Hard Rock Cutting And The Development Of A Continuous Mining Machine For Narrow Platinum Reefs - Introduction
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2002
The hard rock gold and platinum mines in South Africa have seen little development in the technology of mining. Holes are still drilled in the rock?though the latest water hydraulic rockdrills will complete that task in two minutes compared with the eight hours for hand drilling. Charging up is with far safer explosives and with available initiation systems it is no longer necessary to run up the face lighting each fuse. Movement of rock in the stope is predominately by means of scraper buckets and scraper winches?these were first introduced in the 1920s. Support is still mainly rock, either in situ pillars or backfill, or alternatively wood. Just as the mining process has changed very little it is hardly surprising that the productivity of mining is also relatively unchanged. Major efforts have been made to mechanize the mining process. However, most of the narrow reef mines where ?trackless mechanized mining? was introduced in the early1980s have reverted to conventional mining. In the wider reefs mechanized mining is the option of choice, unfortunately most of the gold and platinum mines have very narrow reefs that are not suitable to ?off the shelf? equipment. The move to introduce room-and-pillar mining into the narrow UG2 reefs is at the expense of mining more waste with the reef, fortunately it appears that appropriate waste and reef separation processes are available. Room-and-pillar mining followed by long hole drilling and blasting of a narrow slot of reef out of the pillars currently appears to offer the best of both worlds?maximum reef recovery with minimum waste dilution.