From Prehistory to modern times
human development has been dependent on tools. Historians measure progress by
the type of tools made possible through mining, from the Stone Age through
Bronze and Iron Ages. Here is a good informal description of ancient mining sites.
It is thought that the Iron Age brought about the tools
that enabled agriculture to explode to greater extent than stone tools allowed, resulting in more permanent human settlement. Flint was mined in Egypt over 40,000 years ago.
For example this link below shows that Paleolithic flint mining was an involved and sophisticated enterprise involving a wide range of technologies. In the Stone Age flint was used to create sharp tools (knives and axes) before metal mining and refining. Archaeologists have found very sophisticated and organised mining practises were employed to extract the precious flint. We think of our prehistoric ancestors as being more connected to the earth than we are. This may well be true. Our connection to the earth then and now has been enhanced by mining. The ancient engineers and miners were connected to earth in a very physical way, just as miners are today.
Today a tool is more likely to be a cellphone than a hoe but both still require mining to come into being. From ancient times mining allowed humans to connect with the earth through contact with rock which is older and more eternal than organic matter.