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Hazards Associated with Mining

Discuss About The Alternative To Conventional For Processing.

On the day of a field trip, it was rainy and since I was absent a friend of mine narrated to me about their visit to the mining site. During their visit to the mining site, they observed numerous activities such as how the mining of gold was being done with the various process being used. Though in the course of learning, they realized that there were many risks the workers were going through during the mining operations. There were various hazards hindering them from performing their duties effectively due to injuries experienced from those hazards in the site.                         

  1. Slip and trips- Most workers working in the mine were sliding and falling thus injuring themselves since the walking paths were very wet since it was raining.
  2. UV Exposure- The miners are overexposed to ultraviolet rays which can put them at a risk of getting skin cancer. The UV rays also cause serious damage to the eye if the miners fail to put on protective eyewear(Carey, 2016, p. 12).
  3. Noise- The were various drilling and heavy machines that were used in mining which were very noisy. The noise from the mining site causes hearing damage but workers don’t realize since the damage occurs very slowly. Over-exposure to excessive noise result in concentration problems, tinnitus and also permanent hearing loss.
  4. Dust inhalation- So many specks of dust are released during mining process causing black lung which is realized when one is suffering from shortness of breath, scarring of lung tissues which results to ongoing respiratory issues(Adwera, 2008, p. 123).

Frequency of Occurrence

                                   Hazard Categories

    Catastrophic

            1       

      Critical

        2

Serious

      3

   Minor

        4

(A)Frequent

           1A

Unacceptable

      2A

Unacceptable

      3A

Unacceptable

          4A

   Medium

(B) Probable

         1B

Unacceptable

        2B

Unacceptable

   3B

   High

        4A

Medium

(C) Occasional

           1C

Unacceptable

      2C

     High

     3C

   High

       4B

   Medium

(D) Remote

        1D

      High

      2D

       High

       3D

    Low

       4C

      Low

(E) Improbable

    1E

    Low

     2E

     Low

        3E

      Low

        4E

      Low

The above-mentioned hazards can be controlled so as to minimize the risk associated with them.

                   ELIMINATION- most effective

                             SUBSTITUTION

                              ENGINEERING

                    ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS

                   PPE- Least effective

  1. Based on Hierarchy of controls, the hazards can be eliminated by removing them physically to avoid injuries associated with them.
  2. The hazards can be substituted such that hazards such as pouring waste materials into the lake can be substituted by constructing waste pit where all the waste materials can be stored and then recycled.
  3. People should be isolated from the hazards by putting strict measures so that to minimize injuries associated with these hazards.  (Williams, 2010, p. 453).
  4. The hazards can also be controlled by changing how people work on the mining site, for example, giving out protective measures to the workers and visitors.
  5. The hazards can also be avoided by developing a dust control plan. Installation of dust control protection, medical screening and surveillance will assist in solving respiratory problems

The Ballarat Goldfields located in Yarrowee River in the Central Highlands commenced exploration in1985. Geologically, the area consists of alluvial sediments and volcanic flows originating from now –extinct volcanoes (Clark, 2006, p. 235).

Description of alluvial deposits

Alluvial deposits are materials deposited by rivers and they contain silt, gravel, sand and clay and also organic matter. They are always most extensive in the lower part of rivers course leading to the formation of deltas and floodplains but they may form at any point where the rivers overflow its banks (Blee, 2010, p. 175).

Formation of turbidites

The turbidites are sediments which are carried and deposited by the flow of density. The rock particles are carried away by water traveling at a certain velocity in order to suspend the particles in water and push it along. Turbidities in sediments occur in carbonate as well as siliciclastic sequences and their massive accumulations may result in the formation of submarine fans (Adwera, 2008, p. 123)

There were different methods that were used in the past in mining of gold but currently, most of them have been replaced by modern methods. The ancient methods used in Ballarat region include;Panning

This was a manual technique widely used in separating the other materials from gold. In this method, filling of gravel and sand was done in a shallow pan which may have gold. The pan was dipped into the water and shaken so that gold can be separated from gravel and other materials. The gold will simply settle at the bottom of the pan quickly since it is denser compared to the rock. The removal of panning materials was normally carried out on the stream beds or bedrocks.  (Tyler, 2010, p. 432).

Hierarchy of Controls

This method of extracting gold is the cheapest and easiest method but it cannot be used in the extraction of golds in large deposits this making to be unsuitable commercially (Kenny, 2009, p. 98).

Sluicing

This method was mainly used small-scale miners whereby gold extraction from placer deposits using sluice box which is made using box having riffles intended to produce dead zones in the current to permit dropping of gold from the suspension. The box placement is done at the stream so that to channel the flow of water while the material bearing the gold is placed at the top of the box. The current is used in carrying the material through the volt where various dense materials together with the gold settles out behind the riffles while materials which are little heavy runs out of the box as tailing (Gudde, 2009, p. 54)s.

Dredging

This mentioned method has mostly been replaced by most modern method but it mostly applied miners doing mining activity in small scale by using suction dredges, a slight machine capable of floating on liquid during the operation. The suction dredges entail a sluice box supported by pontoons which are controlled by miner operation underground the water. In the extraction of smaller golds then small suction dredges are preferred to old bucket line (Tilston, 2016).

The operation of greater scale dredging takes place on bare river gravel bars at the cyclic water and the excavator is used in feeding a gravel screening plant and sluice box floating in a provisional pond. The excavation of pond is done from gravel bar, filled with the natural water table and then it is processed through a floating plant. This particular method involves low cost since the movement of rock just takes place one (Lynch, 2004, p. 289).

The process of pudding involves the elimination and processing of all dust's found beneath the bedrocks and several turns can be treated especially when using puddling machines powered by the horses.  The mechanism is made of a wooden trough circular in shape and placed on the central mound straight pole made of wooden and was attached to the post using a pin made of iron. The iron rakes were hanging from the pole which was being dragged nearby the trench to assist in breaking the clay and free the gold (Carey, 2016, p. 278).

This particular method was less widespread. It was mainly used in areas where the deposits of alluvial were buried beneath the primordial lava flows or younger sediments. The process of deep lead mining involves a sinking of the main shaft in a solid ground and extending tunnels from this underneath the old, buried riverbeds. At the intervals to the lead, a vertical connection was made and then excavation of earliest gold-bearing gravels from the sides of the major tunnel linking the tunnel over the lead. There were threats associated with applying this method for example flooding problems were incurred more so during rainy seasons (Gilbert, 2014, p. 412).

Geology in the Ballarat Goldfields

This process, Quartz reef mining was the extensively practiced technique of extraction and it is still employed in some places up to date. Quartz Reef is the major source of gold in most goldfields. The reef is dipped suddenly in the mining sections leaving the huge slots where the reef had been. The reef was initially open-cut or quarried to gain the advantage of the rich surface exposures then sinking the shafts or the tunnels to assist in tracing the gold concealed at greater depth. After extraction, the crushing of quartz is carried out into the fine sand to remove the gold (Coulson, 2012, p. 123).

Most mining operations currently carried out in Ballarat today involves either underground or surface methods and some involve hybrid manner whereby it combines all the methods. The methods currently employed in Ballarat goldfield include;

This method of mining gold is similarly termed as open-pit or open-cut mining. It is a shallow mining technique which involves extracting minerals from the earth by removing them from a borrow or open pit. The method mentioned is applicable when the mineral is found within the surface thus does not require a long wall mining such as underground mining which is only relevant when the mineral is deep inside the surface (Patterson, 2004, p. 321).

The enlargement of open pit mines is done until the exhaustion of mineral resource or an increasing ratio of overburden to ore. The water is also controlled during the mining process so as to protect the mining area from becoming a lake.

This method of mining involves extraction of minerals by the involvement in a chemical reaction. The chemicals assist in the absorption of certain minerals then they are re-separated after their division from other earth materials. This method is preferred economic wise by most mining industries since it is a better alternative to conventional processing for example agitation and flotation.

References

Adware, P., 2008. Society and Environment. s.l. Adventure Works Press.

Blee, J., 2010. Gold, Greed, innovations, Daring and Wealth. s.l. Media Participation.

Carey, H., 2016. Methodism in Australia. s.l.: Wolters Kluwer.

Clark, W., 2006. Gold districts of California. s.l. OLMA Media group.

Coulson, M., 2012. The History of Mining. s.l.: Hachette Livre.

Dunbar, A., 2007. International Mining Manual. s.l.:Person.

Everist, R., 2006. The Travellers Guide to the Goldfields. s.l.: Reed Elsevier.

Gilbert, R., 2014. Gold Letters Limp B & W. s.l. Random House.

Guide, E., 2009. California Gold Camps. s.l.:Grupo Planeta.

Kenny, J., 2009. The Ballarat East Goldfield. s.l. Haufe Gruppe.

Lynch, M., 2004. Mining in World History. s.l.: Hachette Livre.

Patterson, J., 2004. The Gold Fields of Victoria. s.l.: Readers Digest.

Tilston, J., 2016. Bull Market The Rise and eclipse of Australian stock exchanges. s.l.: McGraw-Hill Education.

Tyler, R., 2010. The Welsh in an Australian Gold Town. s.l.: Wolters Kluwer.

Williams, G., 2010. History of Australia. s.l. Scholastic.

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