What is Dredging and Mining

Dredging is cleaning up the mud and garbage from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water places. It’s something that needs to be done regularly everywhere because over time, sand and dirt carried by water can fill up these places, making them shallow.

Dredge mining is a way to get valuable minerals from underwater areas. Big floating platforms with mining equipment like mining pumps, submersible pumps etc.  are used for doing this. It’s like a cool trick that helps us find hidden treasures in our water. 

This way of mining is changing how we get resources and making the mining industry better. Learn more about this cool process and what it could mean for the future of mining.

Objective of Dredging and Mining 

The main goal of dredging is to make water deeper. When we increase the natural depth of an area for the first time, it’s called ‘capital dredging’, ‘development dredging’, or ‘new works dredging’. During capital dredging, we might come across various types of materials in the ground. There could be ‘soft’ stuff like sand, silt, and clay mixed with harder things like stiff clays, boulders, etc.

Dredging is done to make water deeper or to increase the space it takes up. People do this for various reasons, like improving water supply or preventing floods. Dredgers are also used to build reservoirs, make rivers deeper to avoid floods, and create channels for irrigation. If silt is filling up reservoirs, dredging can help keep their storage capacity, and it can also support hydroelectric power projects by managing water supplies.

The second important goal of dredging is to get valuable stuff from underwater similar to  mining. People have used dredging to get tin ore in the past, and now they use it for other valuable things like gold, diamonds, coal, rare earths, and phosphates. The machines used for this type of mining are special and made just for the job. They might even process the material right on the machine. Usually, these machines belong to the mining company doing the work.

Dredging in Detail

A dredge is a special boat used in a method called dredging. It has tools for the dredging process to be carried out. To work, a dredge needs to be in water, like a river, lake, or a manmade pond. The main reason for using a dredge is to find valuable things at the bottom of the water. But there’s a condition: the valuable stuff at the bottom should be loose, like sand or gravel, or very soft. Basically, the dredge is made to lift these interesting materials from the bottom up into the dredge. Later, we’ll talk more about how this works, but for now, let’s discuss what kinds of materials are usually found using dredging or dredge mining.

The bed of rivers, lakes, and harbors often has gravel, which is useful for things like making concrete and for landscaping. Removing this material through dredging not only helps get gravel out  but also makes the waterway deeper, like a bonus! Sometimes, the main reason for dredging is to deepen the channel or harbor, and finding minerals is an extra benefit, like the cherry on top!

Also, if we find valuable materials in a place that could easily be flooded, we might think about creating our own lake and then using a dredge to get the materials from the bottom. If the deposit is in a spot where the water is very close to the surface, we might just need to remove some layers from top, like plants and soil, and the area will fill with water naturally. Then, we can put the dredge in and get the materials. Creating a manmade lake for mining could be an option in certain situations, but it’s a complex process because we have to be careful not to harm the environment.

Mining in Detail

Dredge mining is like collecting valuable deposits, such as gold, from the mud and rocks that flow in the water. It’s done by either sucking up the mud from the bottom of the water or scooping it up with buckets. This method is commonly used by both professional and hobbyist miners to gather raw gold. When dredge mining for gold, the machine digs and sorts through the materials, picks up the gold, and then gets rid of the leftover mud and rocks.

Many people who do gold mining not for professional reasons  use suction dredges, also known as modern dredging. These machines are simple for one or two people to operate, making them popular in places where you can find raw gold. In suction dredging, the machine sucks up mud through a hose placed at the bottom of a river or creek. After bringing the mud to the surface, it goes through a process in a sluice. The sluice separates the valuable stuff, like gold, from the rest of the mud, which is usually sent back into the water.

Although many people find suction dredge mining easy \commercial miners use various dredging methods. For example, flume sluice dredging includes using a bucket to scoop up mud and passing it through a sluice in shallow waters. Screen and flume dredge deal with larger rocks, using a rotating screen to separate mud from bigger materials. 

Table stacker dredge uses a series of buckets to dig up mud and separate valuable things through sluices.

Benefits of Dredging and Mining: 

Dredging and mining has many benefits depending on what you want to achieve. If you’re a business looking to work more efficiently on projects or someone who cares about the environment and its benefits, dredging can help in various ways.

  • Restoration of Environment:

Removing sediment is essential for bringing back the natural state of shorelines and beachfronts, counteracting the impact of soil disintegration. 

Dredging plays a vital role in enhancing waterways by addressing issues like toxic spills, eliminating waste, debris, rotting plants, sludge, and other pollutants that can negatively affect the quality of water and soil.

  • Lower Risk of Floods:

Dredging helps clean up extra mud and dirt from rivers and lakes, making it easier for rainwater to flow smoothly. This lowers the chance of floods because the water can move more freely. It also keeps water levels normal, preventing overflow onto nearby land.

  •  Valuable Metal Extraction: 

The most effective way to get valuable stuff from under the ground is through mining. It helps get metals such as gold, diamond, iron, silver, and others. Plus, it also pulls out useful things like sand, oil, coal, stones, and more from the land.

  • Minerals Extraction: 

Mineral mining is the process of getting valuable minerals from underwater deposits called underwater mining. You can extract different things from the seabed, like gold, tin, aluminum, mineral sands, diamonds, and rock salts. The stuff dug up is sent to a stockpile or a plant for processing to separate the minerals from the sand.

  • Financial Benefits:

Each mining technique brings considerable economic gains, but subsurface mining stands out by extracting large quantities of minerals from expansive open areas. This makes subsurface mining economically advantageous. Dredging offers substantial benefits for shipping, construction, and similar ventures.

Conclusion:

Dredging is about clearing mud and water blocking substances to clear the waterways and thereby make the water free flowing. Mining is the process of extracting valuable metals and minerals from beneath the surface.  Since the early days of civilization till today, people have been using water to transport things like equipment and goods. Because of this, our rivers and canals, which are like our “water highways,” need to be made larger or deeper. This is why almost all the major ports in the world need to do new dredging work to make channels bigger and deeper, create turning areas, and make sure the water is deep enough along the shores.

FAQ's

What impact dredging has on the overall well-being of the water environment in the long run?

How dredging affects marine life in the long-run depends on the methods used and how delicate the area is.

The quality of water can be impacted by dredging, but with careful planning and execution, these impacts can be kept to a minimum.

Yes, modern dredging methods are cost-effective and also can help in maintaining cleanliness of the water.

Some standard equipment like cutter head, cutter teeth, dredge value etc are used in dredging.

This legislation aims to safeguard and preserve the quality and natural equilibrium of the environment, while also regulating various types of pollution.