Staying on Top of Underground Mining: What is your greatest technical challenge?
Being cost-effective while mining deeper and in a more challenging mine geography. — Parviz Farsangi
Narrow-vein underground mining is inherently labour-intensive. Any technology that directly or incrementally improves on safety and productively will improve our effectiveness.
We employ conventional drilling technology (i.e., jacklegs and stopers). Pneumatic hand drills are versatile units, but cause high frequency vibration damage to the operator. A better hand drill will be widely accepted by the industry. Companies are currently testing water- and electric-powered hand drills.
Reduced exhaust emissions in mobile equipment would improve underground air quality, and conversely reduce the cost of ventilation. Diesel engine design has improved over the years. The use of electric scoops has limitations; research into more efficient exhaust scrubbers or fuel types could yield results.
As we mine deeper (we are shallow by many standards), ground conditions will impede our current techniques (design, support methods, etc.). The development of remote-capable drilling, bolting, and load/blast technology that’s applicable to narrow-vein mining would be helpful.
— Boyd Timler