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Good overview of mining and mineral resources in the US as of 1922, with many nice film clips and lots of statistics.
Public domain film from the Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The film was silent. I have added music created by myself using the Reaper Digital Audio Workstation and the Independence and Proteus VX VST instrument plugins.
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth from an orebody, lode, vein, seam, or reef, which forms the mineralized package of economic interest to the miner.
Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal and oil shale, gemstones, limestone, and dimension stone, rock salt and potash, gravel, and clay. Mining is required to obtain any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water.
Mining of stone and metal has been done since pre-historic times. Modern mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysis of the profit potential of a proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation of the land after the mine is closed.
The nature of mining processes creates a potential negative impact on the environment both during the mining operations and for years after the mine is closed. This impact has led to most of the world's nations adopting regulations to moderate the negative effects of mining operations. Safety has long been a concern as well, and modern practices have improved safety in mines significantly...
Mining in the United States became prevalent in the 19th century, and the General Mining Act of 1872 was passed to encourage mining of federal lands. As with the California Gold Rush in the mid 19th century, mining for minerals and precious metals, along with ranching, was a driving factor in the Westward Expansion to the Pacific coast. With the exploration of the West, mining camps were established and "expressed a distinctive spirit, an enduring legacy to the new nation;" Gold Rushers would experience the same problems as the Land Rushers of the transient West that preceded them. Aided by railroads, many traveled West for work opportunities in mining. Western cities such as Denver and Sacramento originated as mining towns.
As new areas were explored, it was usually the gold (placer and then load) and then silver that were taken first, with other metals often waiting for railroads or canals. Coarse gold dust and nuggets do not require smelting, is easy to identify and is easily transported.
In the early 20th century, the gold and silver rush to the western United States also stimulated mining for base metals such as copper, lead, and iron as well as coal. Areas in modern Montana, Utah, Arizona, and later Alaska became predominate suppliers of copper to the world, which was increasingly demanding copper for electrical and households goods. Canada's mining industry grew more slowly than the United States due to limitations in transportation, capital, and U.S. competition; Ontario was the major producer of the early 20th century with nickel, copper, and gold.
Meanwhile, Australia experienced the Australian gold rushes and by the 1850s was producing 40% of the world's gold, followed by the establishment of large mines such as the Mount Morgan Mine, which ran for nearly a hundred years, Broken Hill ore deposit (one of the largest zinc-lead ore deposits), and iron ore mines at Iron Knob. After declines in production, another boom in mining occurred in the 1960s and in the 21st century Australia remains a major world mineral producer.
Into the 21st century, a globalized mining industry of large multinational corporations has arisen. Peak minerals and environmental impacts have also become a concern. Different elements, particularly rare earth minerals, have begun to increase in demand as a result of new technologies...