Traveling underground for deep level mining is getting to be a costly and time-consuming process. With orebodies being discovered deeper underground, how can we mine them profitably with costs for workers’ travel time eating up the profits?
Sadly, transportation vehicles travel very slowly because of their limited speed and the poor road maintenance. Multi-user automated mining equipment, autonomous equipment, and subshafts for high-speed haulage systems just don’t address the main problem.
One concept that came to me was a bit hard to swallow, but the more I did the number crunching the better it sounded. There already is a system that moves hundreds of people at high speeds and has a good safety record: the amusement ride industry.
I imagined a roller coaster going underground with the miners screaming, arms flaying and legs kicking as they accelerated hopelessly to their worksite deep in the mine. Not a pretty picture. But, how about a high-speed transportation system using the coasters rail technology and adapting it for underground use?
Some ideas get brushed off because they don’t seem feasible or just sound too off-the-wall. But, if nobody builds such a system, the mining industry in Africa might have to close up some of those deep mines. Remember that light at the end of the tunnel: the prospect of getting at those deep orebodies economically.
Dennis R. Pageau 224 Labreche Dr. North Bay, ON. P1A 4J6
Regarding “Sudbury branches out” (CMJ, January 2002), it is always nice to see a positive, yet well balanced article like this one.
Richard Riach, Mines Research, Mechatronics Engineering Inco Ltd. Copper Cliff, Ont.
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