It is often easy to forget in this world of iPhones and hybrid cars, that technology first starts deep underground with the metal mining industry. Exotic earth elements fill our smartphones while coal generates electricity to charge them. Commercial and military jet engines are built with components forged from metals found deep below the Earth’s surface. Supporting this extended value stream is stainless steel wire cloth and other wire mesh products often used in the metal mining industry.
In the U.S., the mining industry contributes nearly $600 billion to the economy, or roughly three percent of the total gross domestic product. In 2015, $110 billion of coal and minerals were mined and $78 billion of non-fuel minerals were processed into $630 billion worth of products. Mining occurs in every state, with significant deposits of 78 minerals and major commodities.
While this is more than any other nation, there are 19 different minerals the U.S. is 100 percent dependent on imports for, and 24 additional mineral commodities it is more than 50 percent import dependent. These are typically rare earth elements found in computers, smart phones, car batteries and other high value, high technology products – including military hardware.
Although mining is still a physically demanding and challenging industry, computerization and advanced drilling and extraction equipment has increased productivity, reduced costs and shrunk the overall size of the mining workforce. Mining personnel are highly skilled and well-trained in the use of state-of-the-art instruments and equipment that requires unprecedented skill, training and education compared to earlier mining generations.
While the mining industry has greatly improved in safety and technology, its current financial foundation is unstable and on a downward cycle with no end in sight – although it is expected to recover slightly over the next five years.
As a result, exploration rates are down partially due to this uncertainty. The percentage of worldwide exploration spending for metals mining has dropped from 20 percent of total investments in 1993 to only 8 percent today. This means that fewer new, profitable mineral reserves are being located while older mines experience dwindling returns and often operate at a loss.
Against this backdrop of economic concerns, stainless steel wire cloth along with other wire cloth and wire mesh products, play key roles in daily mining and ore processing operations – especially filtration. These are a few examples:
To summarize this short look at the mining industry:
Newark Wire Cloth, a recognized leader in the wire cloth industry, manufactures off-the-shelf and custom woven wire cloth for any and every application – including mining and ore processing operations. It has specialized in the fabrication of wire cloth parts and assemblies for the past 105 years. Contact us today to discuss how wire cloth can help improve the quality and efficiency of your next filtration project or application.