Deepsea Minerals Are Coming Soon To A Cell Phone Near You

Rocks mined from the seafloor have been confirmed as a viable source for rare earth metals, and thus a tiny piece of the ocean might soon find its way into a cell phone or computer chipboard near you. The finding, published in the April 2014 issue of Applied Geochemistry, all but guarantees a new round of focus on… » 4/18/14 12:00pm 4/18/14 12:00pm

Why California's Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

Having found a gold lining to the West's otherwise devastating drought, prospectors are flocking to the record-low rivers of the Sierra Nevada foothills. A mini gold rush has kicked off in previously inaccessible riverbeds, not far from the site of California's original gold rush. » 3/30/14 1:00pm 3/30/14 1:00pm

The Latest Mining Boom? Plants That Eat Metal And Scrub The Soil Clean

Plants that eat metal sound like a biological impossibility. But these hungry little guys exist, sucking tiny bits of toxic metal from the soil. They don't just clean the Earth, either—they can actually mine bits of gold and nickel for use by humans. » 3/27/14 12:40pm 3/27/14 12:40pm

How Engineers Are Moving An Entire Town Two Miles Away

The city of Kiruna, Sweden, is sinking—the iron mines beneath it are making the ground collapse. So, over the next two decades, its 20,000 residents will be relocated, along with their homes, offices, stores, and schools, to another, brand-new city about two miles to the east. » 3/26/14 5:40pm 3/26/14 5:40pm

The World's Oldest Underground Fire Has Been Burning For 6,000 Years

If you've heard of underground coal fires, then you've probably heard of the one raging under the abandoned town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, since 1962. Fifty-two years is a long time—and a lot of coal—but that's barely a blink compared to Burning Mountain in Australia, which has been ablaze for 6,000 years. » 3/10/14 10:20am 3/10/14 10:20am

5 Crazy Places We Can Go Looking for Diamonds

Hold on to your engagement rings. Diamonds, according to an industry report, are falling off a supply cliff in 2018. As existing diamond mines are depleted even as worldwide demand increases—thanks, especially to a newly rich Asia—three months' salary might soon buy you a much punier rock. » 12/23/13 1:00pm 12/23/13 1:00pm

Terrifying Facts About the World's Deepest Gold Mine

Oh, the things humans will do to get their grubby hands on gold—a metal mostly prized for its ornamental use, hoarded in bank vaults and jewelry boxes, though we've arbitrarily decided it's worth, uh, its weight in gold.* The deepest gold mine in the world is Mponeng, a 2.5-mile hole in the ground in South Africa. A… » 12/16/13 3:20pm 12/16/13 3:20pm

Miners Spill a Million Liters of Radioactive Acid in a National Park

Oopsie. About a million liters of radioactive acid sludge accidentally poured out of a tank at the Ranger uranium mine in northern Australia. As if the spill itself weren't bad enough, the mine is also located in the Kakadu National Park, where most of Crocodile Dundee was filmed. That place is a national treasure. » 12/09/13 2:40pm 12/09/13 2:40pm

Oil Companies Could Create Dozens of Toxic Lakes In Alberta

Canada's tar sands are an unequivocal environmental nightmare, ravaging the landscape and spewing billions of gallons of toxic water into the world. Now, oil companies are claiming they've figured out what to do with all that poisonous water: Turn Alberta into one giant man-made lake district. » 12/02/13 3:40pm 12/02/13 3:40pm

These Autonomous Dump Trucks Let Mines Operate Around the Clock

As the pace of robotic integration into the modern workforce continues to increase, automatons are finding their way into an ever wider variety of industries. Already making an impact in the agricultural sector, automatons are now poised to perform the task of driving massive, house-sized mining trucks—a job once held… » 11/13/13 12:00pm 11/13/13 12:00pm

Cool-Running Coal Truck Could Save More Lives Than a Dozen Canaries

Coal mining is a dirty, dangerous business. Even with modern safety equipment protecting workers from black lung, plenty of other dangers await them underground. Like, say, mixing easily ignited coal dust with hot machine surfaces. That's why GE has invented a mine-car engine that keeps its cool to prevent setting off… » 10/30/13 11:30am 10/30/13 11:30am

Miners Want to Ignite an Inferno Deep Beneath Wyoming

Out in Wyoming, an energy company is getting creative about extracting coal from deep below the surface. Rather than blast a hole in the side of the Earth and go digging for it, Linc Energy just wants to set the stuff on fire and gobble up the gas emitted by the blaze. What could go wrong? » 10/02/13 5:40pm 10/02/13 5:40pm

The Congo Mines That Supply "Conflict Minerals" For the World's Gadgets

Most people who own a smartphone—or a laptop, or a new car—aren’t familiar with tantalum, the rare, blue-gray metal that conducts electricity through these devices. But thanks to skyrocketing demand from electronics makers, tantalum—along with a handful of other rare minerals—is an incredibly sought-after metal. And… » 9/20/13 12:40pm 9/20/13 12:40pm

Researchers Identify 12 Asteroids Close Enough for Space Mining

Common sense would suggest that humans would want to do everything possible to discourage the asteroids hurdling through solar system from heading towards Earth. But in the too-futuristic era of space rock mining that's just not the case anymore. » 8/12/13 1:25pm 8/12/13 1:25pm

Where the Most Important Part of Your Battery Comes From

Lithium's kind of a big deal. It powers everything from our gadgets to our cars—really our entire modern world. And that's not changing any time soon; some analysts estimate that demand could grow up to 25% over the next several years. But how does one harness the power of a metal that bursts into flame every time it… » 7/02/13 3:13pm 7/02/13 3:13pm

Here's Your Chance to Become One of the First Asteroid Prospectors…

It was just over a year ago, back in April 2012, that we first learned the intentions of a company known as Planetary Resources: Asteroid mining. As in going into space, finding an asteroid that's not-too-far from Earth, and mining it for precious minerals and/or water which could be used as space-fuel for other… » 5/29/13 12:25pm 5/29/13 12:25pm

Digital Drills: The Monster Machines that Mine Bitcoin

Bitcoin! It's everywhere right now. Its value is dropping, spiking, dropping again. More and more new converts are hopping in, buying a few coins and trying their hands at the market, looking to make a quick buck with a profitable exchange. But all the while, there's an ever-dwindling army of specialists working in… » 4/15/13 12:21pm 4/15/13 12:21pm