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The Evolution of Mining Technology

1. The use of mineral materials dates back to the earliest stage of man’s history. Mining and agriculture certainly rank together as the primary or basic industries of human civilization.

2. Since prehistoric times, mining has been essential to man’s existence. Here the term mining is used in its broadest context - the extraction of all naturally occurring mineral substances - solid, liquid, and gas - from the earth for utilitarian purposes.

3. In fact, most of the cultural ages of man are associated with minerals or their derivatives. They include the Stone Age (prior to 4000 B.C.), the Bronze Age (4000 to 1500 B.C.), the Iron Age (1500 B.C. to a.d. 1780), the Steel Age (1780 to 1945), and the Nuclear Age (since 1945).

4. Mining began with Paleolithic man some 450,000 years ago. There are, of course, no records to substantiate the fact, but flint implements have been found with the bones of early man from the Old Stone Age. He extracted these from the earth and learned to shape them by crude fabricating techniques. At first he was satisfied to recover stone raw materials from surface excavations, but by the beginning of the New Stone Age he had progressed to underground mining. The oldest known underground mine is from the Old Stone Age and believed to be 40 000 years old. Underground mines attained depths of 800 ft (250 m) by Egyptian times.

5. Metallic minerals attracted the attention of prehistoric man. Initially, metals had to be used in their native form, probably obtained by washing river gravel in surface deposits. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, however, man discovered smelting and learned to reduce ores to native metal or alloy form.

6. Among the great discoveries of humankind the art and science of rock breakage are of fundamental importance. No other technological advance in mining had an equal impact, until black powder was first utilized to blast rock in the seventeenth century.

7. As social systems and culture evolved, mining became more organized. The Egyptians were the first organizers and recorders of mining activity, but the most successful mine operators were the Romans, they established a mineral industry.

8. The Industrial Revolution, coming at the close of the eighteenth century has brought significant improvement in mining science, technology and mechanization that have continued to this day.

II. Знайдіть відповіді на запитання.

1. What are the primary or basic industries of human civilization?

2. What does the term “mining” mean in its broadest context?

3. When did mining begin?

4. When did man learn to reduce ores to metals?

5. What age has brought significant improvements in mining science and technology?


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