The Dirt Issue 8

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issue 8│ 4 │ WHAT'S MINED AND WHERE Dig into mining: How much do you know about this essential industry? The U.S. minerals mining industry supports more than 1.2 million jobs. A U.S. metal mining job is one of the highest paying in the private sector, with an average annual salary of more than $85,000 (and often climbing into the six figures for experienced workers). No power plant can be built or operated without metals such as copper, molybdenum, and nickel. U.S. Fast Facts: Did You Know? Last year's hit movie "The 33" brought global awareness to the dangers of underground coal mining. The drama was based on the real events of the 2010 Chilean mining disaster, in which 33 miners were trapped inside the San Jose Mine in Chile for more than two months before a dramatic rescue. For many modern movie-goers, this may have been their first in-depth exposure to one of the oldest industries on Earth. Truth is, mining has been around for thousands of years; and today, active mines can be found in virtually every country around the globe. For those who want to know more about this "bedrock" industry, here's a quick glimpse into the mining industry—how it affects people everywhere. How far back does mining go? Way back. In early civilizations, people used stone and metals found in the Earth's crust to make early tools and weapons. The oldest known mine of archaeological record is the "Lion Cave" in Swaziland (which radiocarbon dating estimates to be about 43,000 years old). At this site, experts believe Paleolithic humans mined hematite to make a red pigment called ochre, used by primitive people as body paint for rituals. Fast forward to today, where large multinational mining companies continue to extract essential resources like gold for cash, coal for energy and many other elements for construction and other everyday uses. The most common ores recovered by mining include metals (gold, silver, bronze, copper, lead, iron, nickel and flint), as well as coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, rock salt, potash (an alkaline potassium compound), gravel and clay. issue 8│ 4 │

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