Types of Mining

Surface and Subsurface Mining

By: Paola Andreu and Alexis Baptiste

Surface Mining

Surface Mining is a type of mining in which soil and rock overlying a mineral deposit are removed. There are three types of surface mining, strip mining, open pit mining, and mountain top removal.

Strip Mining

Strip mining is a type of surface mining where the ore is close to the surface with one or more layers of rock and sediments on top of it. In order to reach the ore, the layers of rock and soil have to be removed.

Strip mining removes the rock, gravel, trees and plants from a region and deposits it into nearby streams and rivers. The sediments wind up blocking up the banks of the streams which can lead to flooding in the environment.

Open Pit Mining

Open Pit mining is a type of surface mining where rock or minerals are extracted from the earth by their removal from an open pit or borrow.

Open Pit mining needs to remove a large amount of sediments to reach different ores and while doing that, the earth often removes toxic or radioactive gases.

Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop Removal is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing seams of coal.

Mountaintop Removal can bury large amounts of usable water and poison even more which can kill the organisms in the mountains and pollute to far places.

Subsurface Mining

Subsurface Mining is a type of mining which consists of digging tunnels and shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits.

Slope Mining

Slope is a method of subsurface mining of accessing valuable geological material by a shaft access that travels downwards toward desired material.

Slope Mining can contaminate water, displace wildlife, and increase soil degradation

Drift Mining

Drift Mining is a method of subsurface mining that involves cutting an opening horizontally into the side of a mountain or hillside to access a mineral seam.

Drift Mining can dispense minerals into nearby rivers and streams ans cause deforestation in the parts of the mountains.

Shaft Mining

Shaft Mining is a method of excavating a vertical or near-vertical tunnel from the top down, where there is initially no access to the bottom.

Shaft Mining can erode the surrounding rock quickly and form sinkholes where the mines are underneath


Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Fracking can cause oil to leak into groundwater reservoirs and wells and release toxic gases into the atmosphere.