Steel vs Bamboo Part 1: Mining

We all know what it takes to make bamboo: water, sun, and dirt. But what does it take to create steel from iron ore? In part one, we'll compare the mining and harvesting process.

 Strip Mining

Strip Mining

Creating steel from low-grade iron ore requires a long process of mining, crushing, separating, concentrating, mixing, pelletizing, and shipping.

The process of mining iron ore, or taconite, requires massive resources. Heavy industrial mining equipment, expansive mines, and a skilled labor pool are all required. The equipment used includes diamond-bit rotary drills, hydraulic shovels and loaders, water wagons, production trucks and heavy-duty conveyors.

Mining iron ore begins at ground level. Taconite is identified by drilling core samples hundreds of feet into the earth. Taconite rock comprises about 28 percent iron; the rest is sand or silica.

To uncover taconite reserves, the mine area is first "stripped" of the overburden or glacial drift, comprised primarily of rock, clay and gravel. The overburden is loaded by large hydraulic shovels into production trucks, which haul it to contour dumps.

Once the taconite rock is exposed, large drilling rigs drill blast holes. The holes are filled with blasting agents and the blast is detonated, resulting in a pile of crude taconite. After blasting, hydraulic face shovels and larger loaders load the taconite into  trucks, which haul it to crushers.

Now compare that to the harvesting of bamboo. A farmer cuts off what he or she needs with a knife. That's it. The bamboo plant itself is still alive and thriving, ready for the next harvest.

And that's just one of many reasons why we've spent so much time creating an affordable bamboo bike. Read part 2 here.