Mineral resources and environmental interactions

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
In the first part, the aim of the course is the understanding of the basic concepts of economic geology. In particular, 1) definitions related to the concepts of ore and deposit; 2) the understanding of the close relationship between the human society and the exploitation of natural resources of geological origin; 3) the principal economic mechanisms which govern the exploitation of an ore deposit and 4) the main processes induced by the mining activity on the surrounding geological, hydrological, biological and antropic environment. The second part of the course is aimed to provide the knowledge of the main mineralogical and geological (genesis and deposits) features, as well as the most important uses of some industrial minerals and metals.
The third part of the course deals with basic concept related to geoheritage and geotourism and with their use for education and disclosure.
All parts are equipped with real examples that illustrate theory.
Expected learning outcomes
Understanding of the basic concepts of economic geology reported above.
Capability of evaluating the importance for the society, the prospection, exploitation and separation methods, and the genetic context of the main mineral resources.
Capability of determining the main factors of environmental risk induced by the exploitation of mineral resources.
Capability to use for education and disclosure the national and international geologic patrimony through concepts related to geoheritage and the different ways it is promoted.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
In case of emergency teaching, will be performed online syncronous lectures, according to the planned timetable, using the MS Teams platform. Lectures will be registered and will be available on the MS Teams platform for students who will not be able to attend the online syncronous lectures. In case of temporary unavailability to perform syncronous lectures, asyncronous lectures will be available at the Ariel webpage of the course (Power Point documents with audio comment of the teacher). Modes and criteria to attend class lectures, who require the use of a specific app, will published in advance on the Ariel webpages of the course , as well as all the materials of the course (except for the registered lectures, which will be available on the MS Teams platform) and the news concerning any update related to the regulations imposed by the Covid-19.
The program and the reference material will be not modified.
Mode of exams will be not modified: the oral evaluation will be performed online using the MS Teams platform.
Course syllabus
Mineral resources and deposits
· Basic notions of mineral resources: definitions
· Geological and economic processes governing the mining industry
· Mineral resources in the contemporary society: historical evolution of the relevance of copper and lithium, two case studies
· Processes of ore enrichment: types, wastes and risks of environemental pollution
· Environemtal impact of the mining activity:
o speciation and bio-availability of the polluting element/compound
o acid mine drainage
o Remediation methods
· Management of the environmental impact of the mining activity
· The italian laws regulating the mining activity
· Case studies

The principal mineral resources for our society
· The mineral resources for the concretes: raw materials, mining extraction in Italy, enviromental pollution processes.
· Sulphur: a case study of historical evolution of a mineral resource (with historical and social relevance for Italy) and of applied circural economy.
· Metals: iron, copper, aluminum - Raw materials, geological features, applications, environmental and historical-cultural features.
· Energy resources: fossil fuels and alternative sources.

Dissemination and teaching of the mineral resources
Mineral resources in the framework of geoheritage
Rehabilitation of dismissed mining sites with case studies
Teaching and dissemination projects

Simulation of exam questions
Introductory lectures on daily excursions

To be defined. 2 daily excursions at active or dismissed mining sites.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic notions acquired from the courses of Mineralogy, Petrography and Geology
Teaching methods
Will be adopted: lectures, discussion of case studies, exercises (especially at the end of the course using online tools as PollEverywher followed by collegial discussions), two daily excursions at active or dismissed mining areas.
Teaching Resources
Notes and lectures provided by the teachers on the Ariel webpage of the course and on the MS Teams platform.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral interview.
Evaluation criteria: ability to organize in the spoken laguage the acquired knowledge, ability of critical thinking in front of a problem or a case study, competence and accuracy of the adopted lexis, consistency and accuracy of the acquired knowledge.
Practicals with elements of theory: 24 hours
Lessons: 32 hours
Educational website(s)
send an e-mail for appointments