Underground mining is a mining technique that extracts ore from well below the earth’s surface in a safe and secure manner.
The process is environmentally safe and economical as well. The entire activity is conducted through a tunnel, which could be either horizontal or vertical, which is known as a shaft and sometimes also known as a decline. In order to understand underground mining techniques, we must first understand what underground mining truly is:
What is underground mining?
Underground mining is a very practical method of extracting ores from the earth’s underground surface given that it has a lower footprint as compared to open-pit mining. It is a mining technique used when either the deposit of minerals is way too deep within the earth’s surface, or when the external surface area of the land cannot be mined. Additionally, ore bodies that seem too expensive to extract using an open pit are extracted using underground mining instead – although the ore bodies and the quality of their minerals should be worth the extraction costs.
What are the different methods of underground mining?
There are essentially three methods used in underground mining which include room and pillar mining, mechanized mining and narrow vein stoppage mining which are explained as follows:
Room and pillar mining
Room and pillar mining is a mining technique in which tunnels are used. Tunnels are essentially made in a chess-like pattern, and each tunnel has a square pillar adjacent to it. The square pillar separates each tunnel from another tunnel and is essentially used in mining coal.
Large scale mechanized mining is a method of underground mining which essentially involves three different techniques – long wall, sub-level and block caving mining. All of these are large scale mining methods and include the use of machinery and explosives respectively.
Narrow vein stoppage mining
Narrow vein stoppage mining focuses on underground veins which are essentially crystallized minerals present within different rocks. The mineral from the said veins is extracted and stored accordingly. In order to facilitate underground mining, excavations are likely made to accommodate engine rooms and pumping chambers. This method is essentially used to mine platinum.
The need and use of technologies in underground mining
Since minerals, ores and metals are increasingly becoming rare on the earth’s surface, underground mining is increasing in its application. Also, as concerned for climate change and environment rise, underground mining is becoming a preferred mining technique as it has a lower adverse impact on the earth’s environment as compared to its regular counterparts.
However, a great limitation in the applicability of underground mining has been that the activities that happen underground get cut off from the surface activities, which results in a communication gap. However, companies like Newtrax, are doing an incredible job at connecting underground mines with surface mines by harnessing the power and technology of the internet of things and analytics. They combine the above two and provide insights on the operations of underground mines. These operations and insights include data regarding human resources, machinery and the overall environment. The use of such technologies allows for productivity and efficiency in underground mining operations.
Additionally, underground mining operations generally have a lot of safety concerns for their employees. By using such technologies as described above, companies would be able to manage emergency situations and minimize the risk associated with it. Any injuries and losses can be prevented by planning and adoption of such underground mining technologies.
The use of such applications allows the introduction of operational efficiency and planning into the previously manually managed area of underground mining.
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