A lot of extractive activities such as drilling and mining characterize the North American economy. Mining activities act as an important source of revenue for the North American economies. Also, it provides employment since millions of jobs are created throughout the continent. Some of the minerals found in North America include coal, oil and natural gas, copper, and iron ore among others.
North America has the world’s largest deposits of coal. Coal is the product that results from the decay of plants over an extended period. It is a type of sedimentary rock located deep underground. Coal remains to be an essential part of in the production of energy in the United States. The burning of coal produces the necessary energy used for fueling electricity generating power plants (Wright, & Czelusta, 2003). Coal, therefore, provides approximately twenty percent of America’s energy needs The United States remains to be among the top countries that produce large quantities of coal worldwide.
The production of coal in North America is mostly linked to states near the Appalachians. Coal mining companies use mainly two methods to extract the mineral, that is, surface mining and underground mining. The other use of coal other than generating electricity is to smelt metals. The cement, paper, brick, and limestone industry also use coal to make different products. However, coal has a disadvantage of being a nonrenewable source of energy, and its use has some adverse effects on the environment due to high levels of carbon emission. Despite these challenges, coal remains to be an important source of energy in America with large deposits in North America (Wright, & Czelusta, 2003).
North America is an important and international producer of iron ore. Iron ore operations in North America can be geographically divided into Eastern Canadian operations and the United States operations. In the United States division, iron ore is primarily sold in the form of iron ore pellets that are used in blast furnaces. The iron ore pellets perform an important part in the process of making steel. Moreover, the iron ore pellets are given different grading and delivered to customers depending on their preference. Most of the iron ore are sold to integrated steel industries thereby acting as a key source of revenue for the companies that operate in North American region. On the other hand, Eastern Canadian iron ore production mainly targets Asia steel producers. The operations of iron ore in the United States are; however, more profitable compared to the Eastern Canadian operations (Kirk, 2002).
The primary use of iron ore is in the production of steel. Steel is a widely used metal all around the world. Steel is used mainly in the construction of bridges and houses, making parts of automobiles and other purposes (Dey, Mohanta, Goswami, & Pani, 2014).
There are several actively operating copper mines in North America. Some of the mines are located in Morenci, Safford in Arizona, and Tyrone in New Mexico. The methods used in mining copper in North America include open pit mining, leaching and solution extraction, and sulfide ore concentrating. Most of the copper produced in North America is cast into copper rods through the processes at the refining. The refining stage consists of facilities such as smelter, refinery, and other specialty copper products facilities.
The properties of copper such as the ease of being molded and shaped, efficiency in conducting heat and electricity, and its resistance to corrosion makes it a valuable material for domestic and industrial applications. Copper is an essential component of the building and the construction industry. It is also used for power transmission and making machinery.
Dey, S., Mohanta, M. K., Goswami, M. C., & Pani, S. (2014). Recovery of iron values from waste manganiferous iron ore fines for pellet making. Journal of Minerals and Materials Characterization and Engineering, 2(05), 513.
Kirk, W. S. (2002). Iron Ore. Mineral Commodity Summaries 1995, 84-85.
Penna, A. N., & Rivers, J. S. (2013). Natural Disasters in a Global Environment. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Wright, G., & Czelusta, J. (2003). Mineral resources and economic development. In Conference on Sector Reform in Latin America, Stanford Center for International Development Nov (pp. 13-15). Retrieved from http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/workp/swp04004.pdf
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