Mining And Processing
Mining removes ore in the least costly manner available. Surface pits are preferred, but the shape of many vein deposits require mining via underground shafts and tunnels. It is likely that mines of the future may simply inject chemicals or even bacteria to dissolve the metal of interest, allowing it to be pumped to the surface. Uranium mining is already done by chemical leaching. Once above ground, the ore is typically crushed, pulverized, and then upgraded during a process called beneficiation. Beneficiation separates metal and gangue into concentrates and waste material called tailings. The exact beneficiation technique depends on the type of ore being processed and it is usually done at the mine site to avoid transportation costs. Concentrates are generally sent to a smelter for further separation of metals.