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Intro to Mining Resources. Key Concepts in this Unit: Obtaining metal resources from the earth is a very involved process. Many things need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to open a mine. The products that we use everyday come from the earth.

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Intro to mining resources

Intro to Mining Resources

Key Concepts in this Unit:

Obtaining metal resources from the earth is a very involved process.

Many things need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to open a mine.




Intro to mining resources

…But many people don’t realize that even the raw materials we use to make products must be processed before they are usable when they are dug out of the ground.


Case study
CASE STUDY materials we use to make products must be processed before they are usable when they are dug out of the ground.

  • What does it take to get the Aluminum that makes up this can?


About aluminum
About Aluminum… materials we use to make products must be processed before they are usable when they are dug out of the ground.

  • Third most abundant element in earth’s crust (after oxygen and silicon)

  • Has a low density for a metal and resists corrosion.

  • Based upon this chemical structure, will it be found in nature as pure Aluminum?

  • NO


Aluminum is present in a high quantity in the rock of this area
Aluminum is present in a high quantity in the rock of this area...

So how do you get the resource?


Either dig a tunnel underground
Either dig a tunnel underground… area...

  • But this can…

  • be dangerous (collapse potential, build up of harmful gases, high exposure to dust)

  • be difficult to efficiently get the resource to the surface


Or strip away the surface open pit mine
…OR strip away the surface (open pit mine) area...

  • But this can cause a significant disruption of the ecosystem of the area.



Intro to mining resources
Once you have loosened the rock by blasting, you can dig out the rock that contains the aluminum. Here’s what it looks like…

  • This is the rock ‘Bauxite’ (a.k.a. aluminum ore)

  • It contains the mineral ‘Gibbsite’ (AlOH3).

  • It also contains other minerals that are not useful.


Removing the aluminum from the bauxite requires many steps
Removing the Aluminum from the Bauxite requires many steps…

  • Pulverization--

    Rock is crushed into pieces of about 3cm diameter.

    WHY?


2 chemical separation
2) Chemical Separation steps…

  • Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is added in order to dissolve the Aluminum into a liquid as Alumina.


3 density separation
3) Density Separation steps…

The sodium hydroxide solution is stirred around in the giant vat…

Heavier rock fragments settle

to the bottom.

Then the solution is filtered,

which separates the waste material from the liquid that contains the aluminum.


The waste material is coated with sodium hydroxide what is naoh
The waste material is coated with Sodium Hydroxide. What is NaOH?

  • Since NaOH is a strong base…

  • The waste material must be neutralized (by adding acid) before it can be returned back to the environment.


4 electrolysis is used to separate the oxygen from the aluminum in the liquid alumina al 2 o 3
4) NaOH?Electrolysis is used to separate the Oxygen from the Aluminum in the liquid Alumina (Al2O3)

  • Carbon electrodes attract the Oxygen, thus forming Carbon Dioxide & freeing up the Aluminum.

  • This process consumes about 16,000 KWH of electricity for every ton of Aluminum produced.

  • For reference, the average home in CT uses 700 KWH of electricity in a month.


So is it worth it to recycle aluminum cans
So is it worth it to recycle Aluminum cans? NaOH?

Recycling aluminum…

  • SAVES 95% of the energy needed to make the can

  • Reduces impact on ecosystems since fewer mines need to be produced



Intro to mining resources


Is this how all metals are produced
Is this how all metals are produced? through the town carrying a very basic solution of toxic metals into the nearby town.

  • While not all metal resources are processed in the same way, all metals will require several steps to extract and purify the resource.