Module 3 • Natural Resources: Mineral Resources
Activity 3-2
Gold Mining
Activity Level:
explore
Research Question: How are minerals extracted and what is
Subject Areas:
their value?
science, mathematics,
Background:
geography
Since 1968 the price of gold on the open market
has ranged widely, with a record high of \$850/oz (\$27,300/kg) on 21
January 1980, to a low of \$252.90/oz (\$8,131/kg) on 21 June 1999.
Objectives:
Gold is valuable because of its many uses in our society, its rarity, and
Students will:
the difficulty and cost of removing it from the ground. To profit, a - Demonstrate the steps
mining company invests large sums of money to mine or drill in an that are taken to find,
area, to make sure that the area has plenty of mineral deposits. Gold
extract, process, and use
goes through six phases on its way from being a mineral in a rock to
mineral resources.
being a wedding band.
- Discuss the significance
Exploration Phase: Mining companies find out where the miner-
of gold as a natural
als they want to mine are located so they know where to dig. They
resource to society.
test for minerals in the earth. The company must also make maps of
exactly where they intend to mine so they can figure out who owns Time Consideration:
the land and ask for permission.
1-2 45-minute class periods
Mining Phase: Mining companies use different methods to get min-
erals out of the ground. They may mine underground using hard rock
Materials:
mining techniques. They can also do strip mining or quarrying to get
- Teacher Notes 3-2
the minerals they want. How a company mines a mineral is important,
“Polar Husky Bucks”
because they must restore the land when they are done mining. The - Student Page 3-2
company must clean the water, plant new trees, and return the area “Gold Nut-Gets”
to its original state. This is called reclamation.
- 3-4 lbs. roasted peanuts
in the shell
Processing Phase: Minerals come from the earth mixed with rocks.
The mining company has to separate the mineral from the waste rock
- Assorted colors of markers or
before it can be made into useful things.
enamel paint and brushes
- Coin
Manufacturing Phase: Raw minerals themselves aren’t very valuable. - 8 1/2” x 11” graph paper
When was the last time you bought a chunk of limestone or a heap of
- Food processor
calcium carbonate? We don’t buy those items, but big companies do.
- Blender scale
They use them to make everyday items such as toothpaste and micro-
- Vegetable oil
wavable containers. This is called manufacturing. It is the process of
- Salt
taking raw minerals and turning them into useable products.
- Honey
- Celery sticks
- Crackers
- Plastic knives