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Minerals, Volume 1, Issue 1 (December 2011), Pages 1-166

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Addressing the Dual Challenges of Meeting Demand for Minerals and Sustainable Development
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 1-2; doi:10.3390/min1010001
Received: 7 October 2010 / Accepted: 7 October 2010 / Published: 12 October 2010
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Abstract
In recent decades, excellent progress has been made globally in finding mineral resources, extracting them efficiently and effectively, dramatically reducing environmental degradation, and preventing adverse health and safety impacts on workers and stakeholders. The industry has realized tremendous advances in technology and applied
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In recent decades, excellent progress has been made globally in finding mineral resources, extracting them efficiently and effectively, dramatically reducing environmental degradation, and preventing adverse health and safety impacts on workers and stakeholders. The industry has realized tremendous advances in technology and applied science; has met changing and more stringent environmental performance criteria; has made remarkable reductions in fatality, illness, and lost-time accident rates; and has connected better than ever before with the communities in which mining, milling, and smelting are housed. A new era focused on continuous improvement in tackling key sustainable development parameters has come and is intensifying [1].  In order to maintain the social licenses needed to enlist broad public support for mining businesses, continued progress must be visible to national, provincial, and local governments as well as the people who live in the areas blessed with the mineral resources that the global economy and growing population will demand. [...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle Integration of OHS into Risk Management in an Open-Pit Mining Project in Quebec (Canada)
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 3-29; doi:10.3390/min1010003
Received: 8 August 2011 / Revised: 5 September 2011 / Accepted: 14 September 2011 / Published: 22 September 2011
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite undeniable progress, the mining industry remains the scene of serious accidents revealing disregard for occupational health and safety (OHS) and leaving open the debate regarding the safety of its employees. The San José mine last collapse near Copiapó, Chile on 5 August
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Despite undeniable progress, the mining industry remains the scene of serious accidents revealing disregard for occupational health and safety (OHS) and leaving open the debate regarding the safety of its employees. The San José mine last collapse near Copiapó, Chile on 5 August 2010 and the 69-day rescue operation that followed in order to save 33 miners trapped underground show the serious consequences of neglecting worker health and safety. The aim of this study was to validate a new approach to integrating OHS into risk management in the context of a new open-pit mining project in Quebec, based on analysis of incident and accident reports, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and collaborative field observations. We propose a new concept, called hazard concentration, based on the number of hazards and their influence. This concept represents the weighted fraction of each category of hazards related to an undesirable event. The weight of each category of hazards is calculated by AHP, a multicriteria method. The proposed approach included the creation of an OHS database for facilitating expert risk management. Reinforcing effects between hazard categories were identified and all potential risks were prioritized. The results provided the company with a rational basis for choosing a suitable accident prevention strategy for its operational activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)
Open AccessArticle Mental Health, Cardiovascular Disease and Declining Economies in British Columbia Mining Communities
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 30-48; doi:10.3390/min1010030
Received: 1 September 2011 / Revised: 3 October 2011 / Accepted: 21 October 2011 / Published: 28 October 2011
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Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between community-level exposure to changes in economic conditions and the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders and cardiovascular disease in 29 resource-based communities (with a focus on mining communities) in British Columbia (BC)
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between community-level exposure to changes in economic conditions and the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders and cardiovascular disease in 29 resource-based communities (with a focus on mining communities) in British Columbia (BC) during a period of time marked by an economic downturn (1991–2002) The investigation relied on Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Statistics Canada Census data, and health records from the British Columbia Ministry of Health (MoH). Age and sex adjusted prevalence and incidence rates were calculated for each community from 1991 to 2002 and the development of an economic change indicator defined using Census data and industry/government documents allowed for yearly assessment of community-level exposure to economic conditions. The relationship between exposure to economic change and rates of acute and chronic cardiovascular disease and mental disorders across the 29 study communities was investigated using a generalized linear model (stratified by type of community, and adjusted for the effect of the community). Findings indicate an impact on the prevalence rates for acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) during periods of economic decline (rate increased by 13.1 cases per 1,000 population, p < 0.0001 as compared with stable periods) and bust conditions (rate increased by 30.1 cases per 1,000 population, p < 0.0001 as compared with stable conditions) and mental disorders (rate increased by 13.2 cases per 1,000 population, p = 0.0001) in mining communities during declining economic conditions as compared to steady periods of mining employment. This is not observed in other resource-based communities. The paper concludes by highlighting implications for the mining industry to consider as they begin to recognize and commit to mining community health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)
Open AccessArticle Assessing Soil Quality in Areas Affected by Sulfide Mining. Application to Soils in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (SW Spain)
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 73-108; doi:10.3390/min1010073
Received: 1 September 2011 / Revised: 21 October 2011 / Accepted: 25 October 2011 / Published: 7 November 2011
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (2009 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The characterization, evaluation and remediation of polluted soils is one of the present environmental challenges to be addressed in the coming years. The origin of trace elements in soils can be either geogenic or anthropogenic, but only the latter is interesting from a
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The characterization, evaluation and remediation of polluted soils is one of the present environmental challenges to be addressed in the coming years. The origin of trace elements in soils can be either geogenic or anthropogenic, but only the latter is interesting from a legal point of view. The hazard of the pollutants in the soils not only depends on their total concentration, but particularly on their availability. The mobility of the trace elements depends on their speciation, and it is also affected by several soil parameters. Mining activity is one of the most important anthropogenic causes of soil pollution. As a case study, this work is focused in the Riotinto mining area (Iberian Pyrite Belt, IPB, SW Spain). The IPB is one of the most important metallogenic provinces in the world and it has been exploited for thousands of years. The disposal of mining residues has produced important sources of contamination by trace elements and acidic waters affecting soils and rivers. In addition to these problems, the closure of mines in the Pyrite Belt at the end of the 20th Century has led to a great loss of employment, which has caused the development of an intensive agriculture of citrus fruits as a new source of income. The intensive growing of citrus fruits and the traditional subsistence agriculture have been developed surrounding the mining areas and on floodplains near to mining sites. The level of soil pollution has not been taken into account in these cases, nor has its impact on the health of the inhabitants of these areas. Therefore, it is of great interest to study the current state of the cultivated soils and the sources and types of contaminants derived from mining activity in order to program its decontamination, where appropriate, according to legislation. In order to know the present and future hazard posed by the soils chemical and mineralogical speciation has been carried out, given that the availability of a metal depends on the phase in which it is found. The results showed that mining activity has caused high levels of As, Cu, Pb and Zn in several cultivated soils. Moreover, Cu, Pb and Zn showed a high bioavailability. This suggests that at least other studies are necessary to preserve health in the inhabitants of this area. The methodology carried out in this work allowed to select potentially polluted areas where agricultural activities are not recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)
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Open AccessArticle Gait Characteristics Associated with Trip-Induced Falls on Level and Sloped Irregular Surfaces
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 109-121; doi:10.3390/min1010109
Received: 24 August 2011 / Revised: 30 September 2011 / Accepted: 15 November 2011 / Published: 23 November 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (678 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Same level falls continue to contribute to an alarming number of slip/trip/fall injuries in the mining workforce. The objective of this study was to investigate how walking on different surface types and transverse slopes influences gait parameters that may be associated with a
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Same level falls continue to contribute to an alarming number of slip/trip/fall injuries in the mining workforce. The objective of this study was to investigate how walking on different surface types and transverse slopes influences gait parameters that may be associated with a trip event. Gait analysis was performed for ten subjects on two orientations (level and sloped) on smooth, hard surface (control) and irregular (gravel, larger rocks) surfaces. Walking on irregular surfaces significantly increased toe clearance compared to walking on the smooth surface. There was a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in cadence (steps/min), stride length (m), and speed (m/s) from control to gravel to larger rocks. Significant changes in external rotation and increased knee flexion while walking on irregular surfaces were observed. Toe and heel clearance requirements increased on irregular surfaces, which may provide an explanation for trip-induced falls; however, the gait alterations observed in the experienced workers used as subjects would likely improve stability and recovery from a trip. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)
Open AccessArticle Human Biomonitoring Data from Mercury Exposed Miners in Six Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining Areas in Asia and Africa
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 122-143; doi:10.3390/min1010122
Received: 26 September 2011 / Revised: 16 November 2011 / Accepted: 22 November 2011 / Published: 30 November 2011
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (348 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Objectives: In artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) areas in many developing countries, mercury (Hg) is used to extract gold from ore. Data of 1250 participants from Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe were combined to analyze the relation between exposure in ASGM
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Objectives: In artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) areas in many developing countries, mercury (Hg) is used to extract gold from ore. Data of 1250 participants from Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe were combined to analyze the relation between exposure in ASGM areas and body burden. Methods: Four groups were selected relating to their intensity of contact with mercury: (i) a non-exposed control group; (ii) a low exposed group with participants only living in mining areas, but not working as miners; (iii) a medium exposed group, miners living in exposed areas and working with mercury without smelting amalgam; and (iv) a high exposed group, miners living in exposed areas and smelting amalgam. Results: Compared to the non-exposed control group, participants living and/ or miners working in highly exposed areas have significantly higher concentration of total mercury in urine, hair and blood (p-value < 0.001). The median mercury value in urine in the control group is < 0.2 µg/L. In the high exposed group of amalgam smelters, the median in urine is 12.0 µg/L. The median in blood in the control group is < 0.93 µg/L. The median level in blood of the high exposed group is 7.56 µg/L. The median for mercury in hair samples from the control group is 0.21 µg/g. In the high exposed group the median hair concentration is 2.4 µg/g hair. Mercury levels also differ considerably between the countries, reflecting a diverse background burden due to different fish eating habits and different work place methods. Conclusions: A high percentage of exposed individuals had levels above threshold values. These high levels of mercury are likely to be related with serious health problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)
Open AccessArticle Optimizing Location of Bulk Metallic Minerals Processing Based on Greenhouse Gas Avoidance
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 144-156; doi:10.3390/min1010144
Received: 26 August 2011 / Revised: 24 November 2011 / Accepted: 7 December 2011 / Published: 12 December 2011
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (225 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The bulk minerals iron ore and bauxite cause significant greenhouse emissions in their processing to steel and aluminum respectively. The level of these emissions is highly dependent on the source of electrical and thermal energy. However, they also cause significant greenhouse gas emissions
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The bulk minerals iron ore and bauxite cause significant greenhouse emissions in their processing to steel and aluminum respectively. The level of these emissions is highly dependent on the source of electrical and thermal energy. However, they also cause significant greenhouse gas emissions from their transportation across the globe for processing. This study examines these minerals from the perspective of greenhouse gas avoidance, examining the location of processing as an option for reducing transportation-based and process-based emissions. The analysis proposes a “radius of reduction” to define the potential for transporting ore to reduce emissions by offshore processing. Overall scenarios for localized steel production indicate potential for 85% reduction of transport emissions in the steel industry and 14% of overall industry emissions. Local high-carbon electricity grids and inefficient production mean that the benefit of reduced transportation is partially counteracted by increased processing emissions. The transportation of all global bauxite to Norway and other nations with low-emissions electricity for production of aluminum could result in an overall reduction of industry emissions of up to 44%. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Initial Assemblage of Bacterial Saccharic Fibrils and Element Deposition to Form an Immature Sheath in Cultured Leptothrix sp. Strain OUMS1
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 157-166; doi:10.3390/min1010157
Received: 9 November 2011 / Revised: 30 November 2011 / Accepted: 8 December 2011 / Published: 14 December 2011
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (2536 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In an aquatic environment, the genus Leptothrix produces an extracellular Fe- or Mn-encrusted tubular sheath composed of a complex hybrid of bacterial exopolymers and aqueous-phase inorganic elements. This ultrastructural study investigated initial assemblage of bacterial saccharic fibrils and subsequent deposition of aqueous-phase inorganic
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In an aquatic environment, the genus Leptothrix produces an extracellular Fe- or Mn-encrusted tubular sheath composed of a complex hybrid of bacterial exopolymers and aqueous-phase inorganic elements. This ultrastructural study investigated initial assemblage of bacterial saccharic fibrils and subsequent deposition of aqueous-phase inorganic elements to form the immature sheath skeleton of cultured Leptothrix sp. strain OUMS1. After one day of culture, a globular and/or thread-like secretion was observed on the surface of the bacterial cell envelope, and secreted bodies were transported across the intervening space away from the cell to form an immature sheath skeleton comprising assembled and intermingled fibrils. Energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis and specific Bi-staining detected a distinguishable level of P, trace Si, and a notable amount of carbohydrates in the skeleton, but not Fe. By the second day, the skeleton was prominently thickened with an inner layer of almost parallel aligned fibrils, along with low level of Fe deposition, whereas an outer intermingled fibrous layer exhibited heavy deposition of Fe along with significant deposition of P and Si. These results indicate that basic sheath-construction proceeds in two steps under culture conditions: an initial assemblage of bacterial saccharic fibrils originated from the cell envelope and the subsequent deposition of aqueous-phase Fe, P, and Si. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Biominerals)

Review

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Open AccessReview Sleep and Heat Related Changes in the Cognitive Performance of Underground Miners: A Possible Health and Safety Concern
Minerals 2011, 1(1), 49-72; doi:10.3390/min1010049
Received: 1 September 2011 / Accepted: 26 October 2011 / Published: 2 November 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (263 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This review describes some of the literature pertaining to sleep deprivation, shift working, and heat exposure. Consequences of each on human cognitive function, particularly with respect to vigilance and attentional capacity are reviewed. Individually, each of these factors is known to impair human
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This review describes some of the literature pertaining to sleep deprivation, shift working, and heat exposure. Consequences of each on human cognitive function, particularly with respect to vigilance and attentional capacity are reviewed. Individually, each of these factors is known to impair human cognition; however, we propose the possibility that for miners working in hot underground environments and who are assigned to rotating shifts, the combination may leave miners with significant degrees of fatigue and decreased ability to focus on tasks. We suggest that such decreased capacity for vigilance is a source of concern in an occupational health and safety context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Safety & Health in Mining)

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