Mad Max (one of several nick-names)

Modern reality.

Nothing can presently live without mining.

The foundations of your house (stone and cement) are mining products, and the money you wish you had (gold, copper) is also a mining product. Recycling cannot supply all, because populations expand, while recycling is not complete (nor can it be).

Apart from being a motorcyclist, I am also a mineral processor. This means that my job in the real world is supposed to be to extract valuable metals or minerals from the rock that composes the Earth.

The rock that composes the Earth does not follow one formula. In some areas, gold is concentrated, while in others, nothing of commercial value is concentrated.

The role of mining is to excavate and concentrate minerals of economic importance in order to serve the markets of the world.

Because no rock is homogeneous (rather than being one mineral, it is an agglomerate of many minerals), rocks require crushing and grinding prior to sorting between valuable and non-valuable constituents. The grinding breaks the rock until it is as fine (or finer than) sand, so that the minerals that constitute the rock are broken from one-another.

If the ground rock is gold bearing (perhaps 5 gram of gold per tonne of rock), it may be treated for gold extraction at a profit (think about the value of your wedding ring -how much rock was moved?). If this rock is actually gold ore (i.e. the gold is economically extractable), it may undergo cyanidation.

Cyanidation is the leaching of gold (often silver as well) from the ore by means of sodium cyanide, a chemical which is non-bioaccumulating, and which is safe if handled correctly.

If handled correctly (ie the pH of the slurries must be maintained at an alkaline level of perhaps pH 10.5), the leaching of gold from gold ore by means of sodium cyanide will cause no harm to the people using it.

However, while cyanide in small quantities in drinking water will not affect people or other mammals, it does pose problems for fish -so cyanide solutions have to be treated prior to release to the environment.

One of the great merits of cyanide is that it does not linger -after mining has stopped, the cyanide degrades naturally and no longer poses a threat to any creature (including fish).

Many other mining products are treated by a process called Froth Flotation (sic), but this will be elaborated upon later (this process is not generally bad for the environment, if you were wondering).


Froth Flotation is the process of seperating minerals acording to whether you can make them stick to air bubbles.

When concentrating fine coal from its gangue (valueless companions), the best way to do it is to bubble air through the coal-slurry. If there is any frother present (something that makes bubbles and in doing so carries the coal above the water a little ways), the coal will float above the water, and will be collectable in a froth layer (a coal-laden layer of suds).

Coal is heavier than water. The only way it can float is by being ground fine enough that it can stick to air-bubbles and then be buoyant. Coal is like oil in that it repels water, and has air as its preferential (lower energy) contact when in a water - air system.

While coal is naturally hydrophobic (does not stick to water, but sticks to air preferentially), and therefore can be made to flot easily, other minerals can also be made to float, such as copper sulphides.

I'll add to this later, when I can write without constant correction (friday night).


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Mad Max

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