If you have read a little bit of history and are interested in underground mining, which you surely are, since you are already here, you might already know that the deepest mine in the world is located in South Africa.
This world’s deepest mine is also known as the goldmine. The depth of the goldmine goes as below as nearly 2 and a half miles beneath the earth’s surface.
The word underground mining refers to the process of minerals and metals extraction from the earth. Usually, the term used to describe minerals and materials is known as “ores”.
Ores refer to the purest form of the minerals and materials that are concentrated in specific regions below the earth’s surface in the form of deposits.
General Overview of The Mining Process
The deposits of such minerals and materials typically occur beneath the earth’s surface, such as rocky layers, oceans, and forests, which makes their accessibility quite difficult.
Generally, mining methods are categorized according to how the ores are supposed to be extracted. Mining is categorized as underground or surface.
In surface mining, the rock barriers that are positioned at the top of the mineral deposit, are removed to gain accessibility.
However, such mineral deposits can also occur to be positioned far below the earth and make accessibility difficult, especially, from the surface.
In this case, the ores are extracted by not moving the overlying rock layers and by accessing the mineral deposits from below the ground.
Understandably, this method is known as underground mining.
Different Mining Processes – Everything You Need to Know
While mining companies can immensely benefit from underground mining technology, they ought to know the different options for digging deeper, including underwater mining, open-pit mining, and underground mining.
These methods are the general methods incorporated to extract ores from the underground. Let us have a look at the different mining processes, and see what is involved.
As mentioned before, sometimes, ores are located underneath ocean layers, which is where underwater mining comes in.
If the minerals in their purest forms are located in an aquatic environment, such as the ocean floor, the accessibility of the ores can be quite challenging.
Not to mention, that a sensible approach is also required to extract the minerals without damaging the environment and the natural ecosystem.
Underwater mining is usually conducted with specific ships that have been specifically designed for this purpose.
A drill technology and an underwater vehicle are used while these are being operated remotely. With the best underwater mining technology, ores that are located up to 150 meters below sea/ ocean level can be extracted with ease.
The crew is well-trained, and things are well-taken care of, on-board.
Open – Pit Mining
Among the common methods used in mining, you will also find open-pit mining. As you might have already gathered from the terminology, open-pit mining is initiated from the earth’s surface.
During the period of mineral extraction, the earth’s surface is kept open and exposed.
For the safety of the miners, the excavation area has exit sides, while a wide ramp is also included to ensure the safe transportation of equipment and miner’s transportation.
This underground mining process is ideal for the pure minerals that are located close to the earth’s surface, and hence, extensive underground drilling is not required.
Some of the advantages of open-pit mining include the following:
- Smooth and easy transportation of mining equipment and larger volumes of ores.
- The opening size of the mining site doesn’t restrict or hinder the movement of workers or the size of equipment.
- Easier and faster production – miners can work better.
- Lower expenditures of mining – less damaging to the ecosystem.
Underground mining is ideal for the extraction of ores that are located deep below the earth’s surface. Not only is underground mining economical, but it also ensures that minimal waste is produced, which is essential for our ecosystem.
To enter the space below, a vertical tunnel or a horizontal tunnel is drilled. This kind of drilling is also known as a decline or audit.
When is underground mining ideal?
Underground mining is ideal when the minerals and pure materials are located deep below the surface so that open-pit mining is unprofitable.
This kind of mining is also ideal when the quality of the ores is so good that the costs of underground mining can easily be covered.
The Different Methods of Underground Mining
The general methods of underground mining include narrow vein stopping, room and pillar mining, and the large-scale mechanized mining process.
The room and pillar mining process includes the incorporation of tunnels that are drilled resembling the pattern of a chess board.
In between the tunnels, there are enormous square pillars which are then steadily cut away along with the progress of the mining work. This method is usually used for mining coal.
What is The Role of Underground Mining Technology?
Since we are moving on a different online landscape, we cannot underestimate the importance of technology in our lives, including in the sector of underground mining.
Technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are operating at the core of nearly all business operations, and business companies are rendering countless benefits from it.
When it comes to the role of technology in underground mining, we see that it has promoted productivity, protection of our ecosystem, boosted workplace safety, and immensely improved mining operations.
Besides, it has also made the transportation of minerals, workers, and equipment easier; improved underground communication, and enabled fast and instant responses to urgent situations.
The integration of technology in underground mining has effectively enhanced material handling along with curbing the potential risks of serious injuries.
Technology in underground mining has also enabled miners with obstacle detection, automated remote controls, tracing of location, and sensor dealing.
Understandably, working in mines can be quite dangerous as miners have to deal with dangerous gas, toxins, and the constant threat of being crushed.
When it comes to boosting workplace safety and curbing the risks of injuries and deaths, the latest technology solutions play a positive role in the safety of miners and employees.