They're massive; they exist in some of the remotest and most exotic landscapes in the world; and they generate the metals -- billions of tons each year -- that go into everything from rebar to electrical wire to car engines to iPhones to airplane wings to the gold vaults of central banks.
Still, few outside the world of mining know where, precisely, these metals comes from, and what it takes to bring it all out of the earth. Environmentally contentious, politically fraught (see:
), mining goes to the core of the problems (and the blessings) of modern civilization.
Red Dog -- all the usual suspects are here.
In this interactive map, discover the basic facts behind the mines that produce the world's basic materials. And be sure to check back; our guide to the planet's buried treasure is far from finished.
will continue to update, refine and expand the map with new information and additional mines as time goes on.
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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.