2. Mining Methods

Illustration thumbnail depicting copper mining methods Left: Open Pit Mining. Right: Underground Mining.

In each of these mining methods, various earth-moving equipment including shovels, dozers, hauling trucks, and loaders are used to remove and transport the ore. However, the first step is to loosen the rock in the ore body so that it can be moved and processed. Blasting and grinding equipment are used to accomplish this task.

Open pit mining is a technique used to extract copper ore near the earth's surface. Open pit mining is the most widely used technique of mining copper today. It is accomplished by creating and using benches or terraces to gradually reach deeper under the earth's surface.

Underground mining is used when the copper ore is not near the earth's surface. Miners dig a shaft into the ore deposit vertically or a horizontal tunnel (or adit) in order to do this. Mining then follows the vein of ore and the underground mine develops.

In both mining techniques, the mined ore must be removed from the mine and transported to a plant for processing and refining. Trucks and trains are used for this purpose.