chapter  19
20 Pages


We only need to look at the names used to describe key periods in the early development of societies – the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age – to realize the long importance of mining as a human activity. People have been using minerals from the Earth’s crust since Homo habilis first began to fashion stone tools 2.5 million years ago. Today, we are more dependent than ever before upon the extraction of minerals from the Earth. Virtually every material thing in modern society is either a direct mineral product or the result of processing with the aid of mineral derivatives such as steel, energy or fertilizers.