As mining is referred to the exploration, development, mining and processing of mineral resources from the Earth's upper crust with the use of technical equipment and aids. According to the modern comprehensive definition of this concept for mining include the required surveying ( Mine Surveying ), mine management tasks ( ventilation and water drainage ), social security systems ( miners' banks ), special schools ( for example, mining academies ) and mining supervision authorities. As a Montanist (from Latin mons for mountain ) is called on all mining related issues. In German-speaking countries were and are also the names Mont property, recovery of mineral resources and mining and metallurgy usual.

There are over - and underground mining methods for solid, liquid and gaseous commodities.

Mining activities are regulated worldwide by the respective mining law within the national legislation.


The degraded natural resources are located in a deposit, the extent and location is now mostly investigated by geophysical exploration. This preparatory work is often done outside of the mining sector, by academic institutions and government agencies. By their visibility at the surface ( outcrops ) have been discovered - From prehistory to modern times, many deposits - for example veins. A future growing importance of the reduction of deposits in the deep sea is obtained.

In Germany, the mining industry is generally regulated by the Federal Mining Act, in other countries by similar legislation. The public body which is transferred legal control, ie mining office in Austria Mining Authority. In Switzerland, the mountain jurisdiction is located in the cantons.


Pre- historic and early historic mining

The oldest form of raw materials, which is referred to as mining, goes back to the occasional use of flint deposits in the Stone Age. Small working teams go for a few days to flint mines to win the raw material for the production of equipment. In Stone Age cultures ( North America, New Guinea ), this operation held in part to the present time. The exploitation of Mediterranean obsidian deposits is considered to be the work of chance miners.

A permanent or seasonal mining operation requires an agricultural surpluses and trade, as the miners have to be fed, without being able to produce their own food and even produce more products than the community can use. The conditions were usually given only in the Chalcolithic period ( Naqada Culture / copper mines of Timna in Egypt). Iran's copper mines are already stone age and over 6500 years old. The heyday of the Cypriot mines begins 4000 years ago. In Europe, archaeologists have studied two types of prehistoric mines.

There were probably around 3000 BC already ore mines in India and China. A 3000 BC dated gold mine is covered in Georgia. Around 2500 BC, the copper production began in central Germany. Ore was mined from about 800 BC in the Alps. In Central Germany, a furnace from the La Tène period sets in Wilnsdorf witness of mining around 500 BC. The mining of coal is known since the 9th century in England.

Flint mines

In parts of Europe, archaeologists discovered in the soft chalk subsoil flint mines:

  • In the UK ( Grimes Graves 2300-1700 BC),
  • In France, Belgium and Holland ( Rijckholt, about 4500-2500 BC),
  • In Germany, Jutland and Poland.

The prehistoric miners teuften up to 15 m from deep shafts in flint -bearing strata, and put on routes. As tools, hoes from deer antler and stone were used. In Obourg in Belgium abortive prehistoric miner was found with his equipment.

Ore mines

The great need of the advanced civilizations of the Middle East on metals is revealed early on also from European mines, which were probably developed by prospectors. Copper mines in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were dated by pottery finds in the fourth millennium before Christ ( BC). In Rudna Glava (Serbia ) vertical shafts penetrate 25 m deep into the mountain. In the Hungarian Kőszeg archaeologists found next to an old copper mine, a blacksmith shop with metal ingots, bronze residues and Tondüsen of bellows, Toneinsätze for forms, a clay crucible and over 50 stone molds. Stone molds and equipment that point to such workshops, is also known by Špania Dolina (Slovakia ), the UK ( Alderley Edge, Cheshire ) and Ireland (Mount Gabriel ).

The best-researched copper mining area in Europe is that of Mitter mountain in the province of Salzburg. There were 32 mines in the late 2nd millennium BC. Calculations showed that here at the same time 200 miners, steel workers and support staff must have served. Dissolving the ore from the pit wall by the rock was heated and quenched with water. The Bronze Age pits were up to 100 m long. The chalcopyrite ore was done in carrying baskets from the mine. For air circulation ensured shafts that connected the superimposed studs together. Ladders made ​​of logs with notches If enabled the miners access to the tunnels.

The copper mines of the Iberian Peninsula were already 2500 BC developed by a Copper Age culture (Los Millares ). From here, the Bell Beaker people spread metallurgical knowledge in Europe. In ancient times, the silver mines of Laurium were famous. There, slaves worked for the Athens citizens. The Romans exploited the old mines in Tartessos, in Britain and Dacia (Romania ) and further developed in other provinces new. They introduced new techniques, such as water wheels to drain the mines, as well as Erzwaschanlagen.

Mining law

Since the development and exploitation of deposits is very time consuming and expensive, it is to have a high contractual and investment security for mining companies of concern. This contrasts with the interests of the state to achieve the highest possible taxes from mining. Customer and recipient countries want security of supply and low prices.

There are two basic interpretations of the law and conflict resolution mechanisms in relation to the local ownership of natural resources:

The French Civil Code and the style similar legal systems represent an intermediate view. The above-ground natural resources belong to the landowner, the underground to the State.

Depending on the location, history and development of raw materials, thus also result in conflicts due to different legal traditions, local authorities and contractual arrangements.

The discovery and possible development of extensive mineral deposits can aggravate existing territorial conflicts and problematic border demarcation issues, as well as lead to new legal instruments. One example is the 200 -mile zone called by coastal states. Successful cross-border conflict rules such as the European Coal and Steel Community ( as a forerunner of the EU), the North Sea oil and the Svalbard Treaty established a solid foundation for international cooperation.

Mountain Structurally supported commodities

The raw materials funded in mining can be divided into three major groups: element, energy, raw materials and property.

The group of element materials include raw materials for metallurgy and chemistry.

  • Ores: An accumulation of metals or metal-containing minerals, such as gold, iron ore (hematite and others), galena, sphalerite. A subset of the ores are the fluorite and barite Spate.

The group of energy commodities includes hydrocarbons, coal and uranium.

  • Hydrocarbons: petroleum and natural gas ( associated with these are: asphalt, earth wax, bitumen and oil shale).
  • Coal: lignite, bituminous coal and anthracite, peat, Sapropelkohle ( Kaustobiolithe ).
  • Uranium: raw material for the production of nuclear energy.
  • Geothermal energy: See also: geothermal, the basis for the use of geothermal energy for heating and electricity market.

The group of commodities property comprises rocks and soils, including industrial minerals and bulk commodities, and precious and semi- precious stones:

  • Industrial minerals such as kaolin ( clay), mica, asbestos, feldspar, quartz and quartzite, graphite, talc, magnesite, alums, vitriols
  • Mass raw materials such as limestone, dolomite, sand, gravel, clay, tuff and gypsum ( for construction materials manufacturing ) bentonite, earth colors, phosphate, diatomaceous
  • Precious and semi- precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, garnets, amber

Mineral recovery

For developing, and promoting the mining- recoverable raw materials extraction are three different methods:

  • The mine: near-surface materials are recovered by excavation in open pits For example, in a quarry, in clay pits, gravel pits, sand pits, Torfstichen or chalk quarries,
  • By scraping, for example, gold,
  • Or in Mountaintop Removal mining

Mining communities

Environmental impact

Environmental and economic upheavals by means of mines are occupied early. From the Middle Ages to the modern period has a lot of customer from the so-called " silver rush " and Goldräuschen. Heaps and smelting in the vicinity of the mines resulted in the Middle Ages to the emergence of a Galmeiflora and heavy metal lawn.

Basically, an infrastructure needs to be created in the establishment of a mine regardless of the type of raw material extraction, which allows the removal. If the mining area - as now often the case - is in remote wilderness regions, already the construction of roads or railways and the creation of workers' settlements inevitably leads to a far-reaching influence of the natural environment. Experience shows that, along the roads in the course of time, more plants of various kinds and so that new settlements and other roads caused at least reinforce the fragmentation of natural landscapes and habitat destruction more and more. P.4

A large number of areas of conflict of indigenous peoples goes back to measures of resource extraction. An illustrative example of the result of developments of mining projects is the construction of the iron ore railway in Swedish Lapland, which has significantly promoted the development of the sparsely populated north since the end of the 19th century.

Especially the open pit - which always assumes greater proportions due to the increasing demand for raw materials - is the most massive form of damage to the countryside compared to agriculture, settlement and transport: S.4 The shift of millions of tons of earth, deepening the pits, the mound of. Halden, the siltation of water bodies and water consumption have far-reaching effects on the ecosystem and the groundwater level in the affected regions. Sometimes it is also affected settlements, which must give way to the open pit. S.5 A well-known example of these problems is the Garzweiler mine in the Lower Rhine Basin. On the other hand, are thus chances of renewal as part of reclamation measures connected. Abandoned pits and quarries can become valuable biotopes. The facility, drainage, ventilation and protection as the result of use of mines and associated mining industry has a variety of innovations and improvements in the legal, planning and entrepreneurial and technical environment result.

In addition to the above-mentioned effects leads almost any form of mining on various emissions of toxic substances in air and water. Large environmental scandals of this kind with significant health risks for the population were known from the gold mines of South America, where large quantities of highly toxic mercury into the environment. More problematic substances in the extraction of metallic ores are phosphorus and sulfur compounds, heavy metals or radioactive substances in the extraction of uranium. In the oil and gas production occurs among others in West Siberia or the third world countries in Africa, it comes by permanently defective equipment ( rigs, pipelines, etc.) to a nearly irreversible contamination of soil and water. While the mining companies in Europe often go to great lengths to prevent or minimize these emissions, the conditions and actions in the Third World countries are often insufficient.

Examples of significant environmental effects of various mines see, among other

→ Yanacocha (Peru, Gold )

→ Chuquicamata (Chile, copper)

→ Rössing Mine (Namibia, uranium)

→ Grasberg mine ( West Papua, gold and copper )

→ Pangunamine (Papua New Guinea, copper)

→ Lusatian lignite mining area ( Germany )

→ El Cerrejón (Colombia, coal )

McArthur River uranium mine (Canada, uranium)

→ Niger Delta (Nigeria, conventional oil )

→ Athabasca Oil Sands (Canada, unconventional petroleum)

→ Bayan Obo mine ( People's Republic of China, rare earths)

The American Blacksmith Institute ermittel since 2006 the top 10 most contaminated places on earth. This includes mining companies often on polluters. Mention may be made here Kabwe in Zambia ( lead and cadmium), Norilsk in northern Siberia (nickel, copper, cobalt, lead), Dalnegorsk in the Far East of Russia ( lead, cadmium, mercury, antimony), Sukinda in Northeast India ( chromium ) or Tianying in central China ( lead and other heavy metals).

Mining professions and universities

Over the centuries, a variety of careers in the mining industry were out.

Today (also called Mountain Academy ), the Technical University of Freiberg, the Technical University of Clausthal and the Rhenish- Westphalian Technical University of Aachen in Germany on three montane research universities, offered mining related courses. Furthermore, the Technische Fachhochschule Georg Agricola offer in Bochum and some other mountain schools of mining related courses.

In Austria there is only one University of Mining and Metallurgy: the University of Leoben, Leoben also called short or Montanuni.

In Switzerland, you can earn a master's degree in Tunnelling at the University of Lausanne.