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How is mercury mined?

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Quick Answer

As with most ores, mercury recovery is achieved through underground mining. The mercury is conventionally mined and blasted and then scraped or mechanically loaded onto ore cars.

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Full Answer

Mercury deposits are small and irregular. Sometimes, mercury occurs in the form of disseminated deposits, but it is usually in veinlets. This requires large-scale and highly mechanized mining methods.

Mercury is found in cinnabar; as mined, it contains less than 1 percent mercury. Different concentration methods are used to process mercury out of the cinnabar. These include jigging, shaking, screening, elutration and flotation.

Large commercial deposits of mercury have been mined at Almadén (Spain), Idrija (Slovenia), Monte Amata (Italy, and Santa Barbara (Peru).

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