Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...
in which soil and rock overlying the mineral deposit (the overburden
Overburden is the material that lies above an area of economic or scientific interest in mining and archaeology; most commonly the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body. It is also known as 'waste' or 'spoil'...
) are removed. It is the opposite of underground mining, in which the overlying rock is left in place, and the mineral removed through shafts or tunnels.
Surface mining began in the mid-sixteenth century and is practiced throughout the world, although the majority of surface mining occurs in North America .