In the Pilbara in Western Australia, automated driverless trucks the size of houses relentlessly plough backwards and forwards in the vast open pits of iron ore overseen by operators 1500 kilometres away in Perth. Almost half of the uranium mined in the world today is recovered using solution mining. This involves leaving the ore in the ground and recovering the minerals from it by dissolving them and pumping the resulting solution to the surface where the minerals can be recovered. In Yorkshire, United Kingdom, there are plans to build an underground potash mine in a national park. The winding gear for the mine as well as the maintenance shops and ventilation equipment will be located underground so as not to be visible at the surface. Canadian company Nautilus has an advanced stage project to recover copper, gold and silver from sulphides at a depth of 1600 metres on the floor of the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea and is investigating the possibility of recovering polymetallic nodules at around 4500 metres depth in the Central Pacific west of Mexico. In 2012, a company named Planetary Resources announced proposals for mining near-earth asteroids (NEAs) for precious metals.1
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