There are several different steps to the process of mining. Each of them are important, from the first steps to the later steps in the mining process.
The first steps are normally the exploration or prospecting. This is where the location and the extent of the mineral or substance that is being sought are found. For instance, an ore body or vein of ore will be discovered, and through the exploration and prospecting process it will be defined and known how large it is, and how far it extends.
Next, often in modern times there will be a study to decide if it is feasible and economically worthwhile to try and access the Ore or mineral. Sometimes it will be easy to get to, at other times it will be difficult to access and it is decided that it is just not worth the effort to mine and reclaim the material.
If it is decided that it will be worth the cost involved, then the process of mining itself can start. There is normally two big types of mining, surface mining, and sub surface mining. Both techniques are used in modern times, and it depends on the material and the geography of the area as to whether or not it is surface or sub surface means.
If it is a placer deposit, then it will normally be accessed using surface mining techniques.
If is it lode deposit, it can be accessed using either surface techniques, or sub surface mining techniques.
Surface mining is when the ground is stripped away in open layers, and as each layer is exposed the material that it uncovers is mined and processed. Open pit mining, and strip mining are both types of surface mining techniques.
Sub surface mining is when shafts and tunnels are dug to reach deposits and lodes that are buried beneath the ground. Different types of sub surface mining include slope mining, shaft mining, and drift mining. Other types include room and pillar, shrinkage slope, and hard rock mining and are all methods of sub surface mining.