According to the basic definition, mining means extracting minerals from the earth. Materials that are usually extracted from the earth that way are base metals, uranium, iron, limestone, coal, rock salt, potash, diamonds and precious metals. These are all the materials that cannot be created in an artificial way nor can they be grown through agricultural process and that is the main reason why they are being obtained by mining. So, in a wider sense of word mining incorporates extraction of resource that are not renewable.
Stone mining, as well as metal mining have been discovered all the way back in pre-history. However, things have changed since then quite a bit. Mining process in a modern sense of word comprises prospecting the ore body, analysis of possible earnings from the exploitation of a certain mine, then the extraction of the targeted material and last – the recuperation of the land to make it suitable to use for something else once the mine has been closed.It is important to mention that mining processes can have a negative effect on the environment. The negative impact can happen during the mining process itself or it can come out on the surface years after the mining had been done. Those negative side effects of the mining industry have forced most countries in the world into adopting rules and regulations that are supposed to keep the negative effects of mining operations in moderation.
You should also read the following: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining