Surface mining deals with soil and rock mining techniques where levels of ground are removed and as mineral deposits are exposed they are removed and processed. It is the opposite of underground mining.
This is the type of mining where rock and useful minerals are either found on the surface or near the surface, where the overburden rock is fairly thin or easily removed. Surface mining is also done when the area or rock would not support tunnels or shafts that are necessary in underground mining efforts.
Areas that are heavy in gravel cinder and sand, where the overburden is thick and where the material is in veins of rock near the surface are often ideal for surface mining. Sometimes one type of surface mining is open it mining
Sometimes this open pit mining technique will gradually remove rock in layers, leaving a large open pit. These surface mines are expanded slowly and deeper and deeper as long as the material being mined continues to be available.
Earthmovers and heavy equipment are often used in Surface mining to remove the ground and rock over the mineral that is being sought. This material is called the overburden, and it is extracted and discarded to access the minerals and materials that are being sought.
In addition to Open Pit mining, another type of surface mining is called Strip Mining. It is where a long strip of overburden is removed, and a strip of material, or a seam of mineral is exposed and then able to be mined and processed. It involves some of the largest man made machines on earth, such as large bucket and wheel excavators that can move as much as 10-12 thousand cubic meters of earth in an hour.
Strip mining can also access sands that are oil impregnated, and these can actually be used to remove oil for use commercially from this mode of mining.