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What Is Involved in Manganese Mining?

By Jordan Weagly
Updated May 17, 2024
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Locating a deposit is often the first step in manganese mining. After locating significant deposits of manganese ore, equipment is usually brought in to form a mine. When manganese has been successfully dislodged from the rock bed, it is usually transported to a processing facility, either on- or off-site. Processing is usually done to remove impurities. The processed manganese can then be refined into many different products.

Manganese mining usually takes place near large deposits of high-quality manganese nodules. Many of these deposits are found in terrestrial sources on various continents around the world. Geological surveying equipment can help locate these deposits on land and in the ocean, which is thought to contain large quantities of manganese. Special equipment is needed for deep-sea extraction, however, which makes such operations cost-prohibitive. Otherwise, typical mining equipment — such as excavators, bulldozers and transportation vehicles — is used to carry out all mining operations.

Open-pit mining is often preferred for manganese mining. Underground mining is also possible, as is deep-sea mining in open pits similar to those used for terrestrial deposits. Manganese mining often requires a specific method of extraction, because nodules can be embedded among various other rock bed materials. One of the benefits to open-pit mining is reduced cost compared to other mining methods. The change in geologic configuration, however, means the environmental impact of this mining is often considered severe.

Transportation is an important part of manganese mining, because raw ore must be transported from the mine before it can be processed, refined and sold. Once manganese ore has been freed from the rock bed, it is often transferred by a heavy-duty excavator to a transportation vehicle. Large dump trucks with a high weight capacity are often essential for this function. Once transported to a processing machine or facility, many of which are near the mine, stationary machines often carry the mined material through the processing and refining machinery.

Processing and refining the ore are usually the final steps in manganese mining. Manganese nodules often contain significant levels of other materials, such as rock, mud and water, as a result of the mining process. Machines often crush the raw material, after which chemical or mechanical processes separate the manganese ore from the rest of the material. Once free of impurities, manganese is often heated or smelted, a process that can strengthen the material by changing its molecular composition. Once fully processed, manganese is added to various products, such as steel, fertilizer and paint.

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Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On Oct 20, 2011

@bythewell - You might be happy to know that world demand for manganese might be be reduced somewhat by the invention and use of lithium batteries. It seems like they are slowly replacing the old alkaline ones, which use manganese. There are still a lot of alkaline batteries being made, using the metal, but I think in the long run, we'll see more lithium batteries and fewer alkaline ones.

Of course, manganese is used for lots of other applications as well, so reducing the amount needed in one area isn't going to stop manganese mining companies, but it will help a little bit.

By KoiwiGal — On Oct 20, 2011

Unfortunately, maganese can't really be substituted for anything. And it is hardly ever used in a pure form, usually it's mixed with something, as it's used like a pigment. So, it would be more difficult to recycle it than to mine it.

I don't much like open mines either, in theory, although they are trying to make them more environmentally friendly and they provide a lot of jobs in my area.

It's a shame that they cause so much damage to the environment though and I think the decision always has to be made whether or not the benefits are worth it.

By bythewell — On Oct 19, 2011

Open pit mines are truly ugly things, and can pollute the area around them, if they don't destroy it utterly.

The worst part, in my mind, is that there is hardly ever any effort to really rehabilitate the land after the mining is finished. What with the heavy metal posioning and the stripping of top soils and the removal of trees, these areas are left with little chance of recovering by themselves in any kind of reasonable time frame.

That's not even mentioning the amount of energy used, or the pollution that comes from refining the ore.

And a lot of these kinds of metals can be recovered from recycling anyway. It makes me angry that they still use such destructive methods to mine them.

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