Dig It!


The search for minerals, fuels and precious metals has been going on for millennia. Prehistoric mines have been discovered, for example, where hematite was mined for red pigmentation. Our forefathers initially ‘mined’ stone for tools and weapons; once copper and tin deposits were discovered, our ancestors discovered how to combine these two metals to create an alloy that was better suited to both tools and weapons.  Ancient Egyptians mined gold and semi-precious stones for ornaments.  While the Greek possessed iron weapons and mined silver, it was the Romans who developed large-scale mining in response to the demands of the economy and their military efforts.  They mined gold and copper in Spain, and silver, tin and lead in England. Mining during the Middle Ages concentrated on copper and iron, the latter especially for armory.  At the same time, copper and gold were mined in the Americas.  

Over the centuries, mining has come a long way and there are few countries where some form of mining does not take place either on or beneath the Earth’s surface. And before these mines were ever opened, significant exploration programs were conducted to identify the resources and determine whether it was economically feasible to extract them.

Throughout most of its history, mining was conducted with little concern for safety or the environment.  As the scale of mining increased, so did accidents and environmental disasters, which ultimately led to the development of mine safety laws and environmental restrictions. Mining in North Carolina is regulated by the Mine Act of 1971, which prescribes the extensive mining application process, guarantees, and reclamation guidelines as well as language to address environmental concerns. At the national level, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulates Mine Safety, which is part of the US Department of Labor.  MSHA’s mission is to “administer the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) and to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents; to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents; to minimize health hazards; and to promote improved safety and health conditions in the Nation's mines.”

Personnel of Northwest GeoScience have consulted worldwide with special emphasis on coal and dimension stone in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Tanzania, Madagascar, Indonesia, Colombia, Northern Ireland, and the eastern regions of the United States.  This work has included exploration, geological modeling, feasibility studies, quality and reserve calculations, mine permitting, quarry development, and data management.

The firm’s personnel have provided expert witness testimony for NC DOT in disputes involving property valuation regarding potential stone quarry development.  Northwest GeoScience is qualified to provide annual refresher training in Mine Safety and Health standards for non-coal mining.