Glossary of Common Australian Mining Terms 2022

Mining terminology is tricky to understand.  We’re here to help you navigate the greenfields, brownfields and mine fields of mining speak.



  • Adit – an underground tunnel on a mine that follows a seam or vein of ore, which can be used for access or drainage purposes.
  • Assay – assay-definition is the testing of an ore to determine the content of valuable minerals.
  • Automation – the technique of making an apparatus, process, or system operate automatically. It is the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.


  • Back – the roof or upper part in any underground mining cavity.
  • Base metals – natural metals, such nickel-and-manganese, that are more readily available and less expensive than their precious metal cousins such as gold.
  • Bed – a layer or stratum of minerals.
  • Bench – in an underground mine, this is the horizontal low ledge or floor on which material is quarried or worked on.
  • Beneficiation – any process that improves the value of ore by removing waste.
  • Blast hole – this is a hole drilled into a material due to be blasted, to contain the explosive charge.
  • Blind sink – the establishment of a "hole" in the ground from surface to a required depth, by creating a shaft collar and then drilling, blasting, loading the blasted rock to surface and shaft lining.
  • Brownfield exploration – exploration work that’s done close to or at existing mines.
  • Bulk commodity – the raw form of products such as iron ore and coal that is shipped and sold in large quantities.


  • Collar – the term applied to the timber or concrete around or on top of a shaft; the starting point of shaft or drill hole at the surface.
  • Concept study – a business case to determine whether it’s worth proceeding to extract ore from a specific area or mine.
  • Concentrate – what is left after the raw ore has been ground down and the waste has been removed.
  • Core or core sample – a sample of rock that has been drilled out of the potential mine area.
  • Cut off – low grade ore that can just about be mined profitably.


  • Decline tunnel – this is a tunnel driven from the surface towards the base of the mine to allow vehicles and equipment to go in and out of the mine.
  • Deposit – this term is used to describe an amount of ore or mineral that makes exploitation worthwhile.
  • Diamond drill – a drill used to collect core samples from rock.
  • Deposit – an amount of ore or mineral that makes exploitation worthwhile.
  • Drift – a horizontal passageway underground, which follows the vein or seam of the mineral ore.


  • Electro-refining – the use of electrolysis to improve the purity of the metal extracted from ore.
  • Electro-winning – a process that uses electric currents to remove metal ions from liquid solutions, usually to recover precious metals.


  • Face drilling – a method used in conventional mining to drill a hole in the coalbed for inserting explosive charges. The holes are drilled into the rock and packed with explosives.
  • Fine-grained – a material consisting of very small particles, each with an average size smaller than 1 mm in diameter.
  • Float – pieces of rock that become separated from the main body over time.
  • Footwall – the area below where ore is present in a mine.
  • Froth flotation – a process used to separate water-loving materials from material that repel water. In mining it’s used to separate valuable mineral or metal from waste material making making it gather on the surface of a ‘froth’ layer.


  • Gangue – the worthless material surrounds or is mixed with the mineral in ore.
  • Grade – the amount of mineral contained in a piece of ore.
  • Grind – to crush ore into grains or powder.
  • Ground-penetrating radar – radar used to scan images of what lies beneath the surface.


  • Hanging wall – the area above where the ore is present in a mine.
  • Hydrometallurgy – a method of extracting minerals/metals from ore using water-based liquids.


  • iron – rocks and minerals from which can be profitably extracted.


  • Jig – a machine used to collect concentrates of ore.
  • Jumbo - A drilling jumbo consists of one, two or three rock drill carriages, sometimes a platform, which the miner stands on to load the holes with explosives, clear the face of the tunnel or else.


  • Leaching – a method of extracting minerals from ore using a technique that converts them into soluble salts in a liquid.
  • Life of mine – the plan for the way in which a company will mine in a particular area and for how long.
  • Liberation – the crushing, grinding and sieving of ore.
  • Load haul dumper / Haulage – these vehicles are used in underground mines to load and transport ore and minerals. They can be operated manually or automatically.
  • Lode – a mineral deposit contained in solid rock.
  • Longwall mining – a form of where a long wall of coal is mined in a single slice.


  • Metallurgy – the art of working metals, especially extracting them from their ores.
  • Mine value chain – the entire mining process, from the moment the potential of an area is identified to the day product is delivered to customers.
  • Mine recovery – the percentage of mined ore that makes it to the processing plant.
  • Mineral – a chemical compound, such as copper or iron, formed into crystals by geological processes.
  • Muck – in open pit mining, muck is the ore that has been broken into pieces by explosives. In underground mining, muck is the clearing up that’s done after blasting to sort the rich ore from the poor rock.


  • Non-destructive testing – a way to measure the integrity of materials or structures, without causing any harm.


  • Opencast mining – a method of mining rock or minerals by removing them from a Open cut mine situated close to the surface above ground.
  • Outcrop – a place where a coal seam is exposed at the surface.
  • Ore – rock from which we can extract valuable minerals and metals.


  • Pit de-watering – the removal of water by pumping or evaporation to remove or drain groundwater or surface water from a site or mine shaft.
  • Precious metal – rare and sought-after, naturally occurring metallic chemical elements regarded as investments or used in industry. Examples include gold, silver and platinum: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum.
  • Pre-feasibility – a detailed examination of the business case for mining in a particular location.
  • Processing – extracting metals and minerals from ore and then purifying them.
  • Process recovery – the percentage of product we can extract by processing.
  • Production – the amount of ore mined in a specific timescale, which is often measured on a quarterly basis.


  • Refine – to produce the pure state of a commodity from its ore.
  • Rehabilitation – leaving the mine area in the condition in which you find it or the condition agreed with the local community.
  • Reject – the coarse (pebbles) and fine (tailings) waste produced at processing plants.
  • Reserve – resources of coal, ore or minerals which can be mined profitably under existing conditions.
  • Resource – a naturally occurring liquid, solid or gas in the earth’s crust that can be extracted for profit.
  • Roof bolting – a common application in underground coal mines for securing the mine roof to be self-supportive.
  • Rock Bolt - A rock bolt is a long anchor bolt, for stabilizing rock excavations, which may be used in tunnels or rock cuts. It transfers load from the unstable exterior to the confined interior of the rock mass
  • Run of Mine (ROM) – Run of Mine (ROM) – ore that’s mined and ready to go to the processing plant.


  • Seam – an underground layer of a mineral.
  • Shaft – a column that runs down to the bottom of the mine. It is used to transport people, ore and equipment up and down the mine.
  • Shaft sinking – the activity of establishing a vertical or declined tunnel to obtain the precious metal and/or mineral.
  • Slope stability – the walls of a pit have a certain slope (stepped, benched or side) determined by the strength of the rock mass and other factors. The stability of these walls and even of individual benches and groups of benches, is very important particularly as the pit gets deeper. Increasing the pit slope angle by only a few degrees can decrease stripping costs tremendously or increase revenues through increased ore recovery.
  • Stripping ratio – the amount of waste rock mined relative to the of ore rock mined.
  • Stope – a step-like excavation that’s formed as ore is removed from around the mine shaft.


  • Tailings – the material or waste left over after the valuable product/commodity has been extracted from ore.
  • Tailings dam – tailings produced during the process of extracting the valuable commodity/product from ore.
  • Tunnel boring machine – a machine that is used as an alternative to drilling and blasting. These machines can excavate tunnels with a circular cross section and can bore through anything from hard rock to sand.
  • Transformation – the refining and smelting of metal.


  • Vein – a fracture or crack in a rock that contains mineralised material.
  • Vug – a small to medium-size rock crevice or cavity.


  • Waste – rock that is mined but not processed.
  • Working face – the location where ore and waste is removed from solid rock.




undergound mining terminology