The Importance of Rock Breakage Technology to the Future of Underground Space in Australia

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Underground space can be defined as space below natural ground level which can be used as an alternative to an above ground location. While many of our above ground structures inherently involve underground excavation for foundations and services, the term underground space specifically refers to organised development of underground openings and of the underground domain. For example, the services to a city such as power, gas, sewerage, water and communications are installed in a congested array which usually requires roads to be dug up when the services need to be accessed. An underground space installation of services would involve a well planned conduit which is easily accessed without any excavation. The concept of using this virtually untapped land resource to the advantage of our expanding cities is gaining considerable interest in Australia. Overseas, in the Scandinavian countries and some Asian countries, underground space has been used for centuries; in Great Britain, France and the United States of America over the last century and in Japan for over a decade. This paper focusses on the types of underground space usage which should be competitive with above ground use and suggests areas in which the competitive edge may be improved in favour of underground space. In particular, considerable advantage is seen by using well-planned underground space developments in major cities, where the strategic central location of the development takes advantage of proximity to potential users. However, the largest single factor affecting the acceptance of underground space is the high capital cost of construction, even though an underground space development may result in lower operating costs and reduced long-term maintenance costs. While excavation methods and associated costs are very much site-specific, the importance of applying the latest technology in rock breakage, with consideration of ground vibration, excavation rates and ground support, remains a major challenge to the development of underground space.
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