Tunneling Machines

Handewith, Howard J. ; Dahmen, Neil J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 13
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Tunneling machines were introduced into civil con¬struction in the 1800s, but their practical applications were not realized fully until the 1950s. As of 1977, tunneling machines were being used on most tunneling projects of substantial size. As in civil construction, the mining applications of tunneling machines have included long drives such as tunneling for long ore-body develop¬ment drifts, long haulage tunnels, longwall access drifts, and long crosscut developments. Tunneling machines ranging from 1.75-m (5.7-ft) to more than I1.0-m (36-ft) diam are available from several manufacturers; machines for mining applications generally have ranged between 1.75 and 6.0-m (5.7¬and 20.0-ft) diam. Tunneling machines usually operate at or near horizontal grades and are supported by a rail-haulage backup system. However, declines and inclines have been made using alternative backup equip¬ment. Either circular or shaped tunnels may be bored, depending upon the particular equipment used. Using tunneling machines to bore openings through rock offers several advantages over the use of the drilling and blasting technique. These advantages include a rapid advance, continuous operation, uniformity of the opening size, smooth walls, and safe working conditions. Compared to drilling and blasting, boring reduces the disturbance of adjacent rock, thereby reducing the ground-support requirements and the exposure to water inflows. The smooth walls provide natural arching and present minimum resistance to the flow of air. A tunneling machine should be considered a spe¬cialized mining tool that is well-suited to certain mining applications. Properly applied and sustained, a tunnel¬ing machine contributes to realizing substantial econo¬mies in the development of underground mines. All costs herein are expressed in 1977 US dollars, unless otherwise noted. The mention of trade names and manufacturers is not intended to imply an endorse¬ment of any specific equipment. TYPES OF TUNNELING MACHINES As listed in Table 1, five principal types of tunneling machines were being manufactured in 1977. Each type of machine offers a special solution to a specific mining problem. Although each of these types of machines is described herein, most of this chapter is devoted to the full-face rotary rock-tunneling machine that has demon¬strated the greatest production in both civil construction and mining applications. Full-Face Rotary Rock-Tunneling Machines As shown in Fig. 1, a full-face rotary rock-tunneling machine consists of a rotating head that is fitted with rock-cutting tools and is forced into the tunnel face. This head is supported by a bearing on a structural support member that, in turn, is held in place by a hydraulically positioned wall-gripping mechanism. Both torque and thrust are reacted from the cutterhead, through the structural support and gripper mechanism, and to the tunnel wall. The rock cuttings fall to the invert at the tunnel face, and they are removed by means of cutterhead buckets or scoops that transfer the cuttings to a conveyor belt. After advancing the cutter¬head through a preset boring stroke, the tunneling machine is advanced by hydraulically pulling the gripper mechanism in from the tunnel walls, stroking forward, and resetting the gripper to the new forward position on the wall; the machine then is set for the next advance stroke. Full-face machines cut only circular openings. Ma¬chines with diameters as small as 1.8 m (6 ft) and as large as 6.1 m (20 ft) have been used in mining applica¬tions, excavating rock with unconfined compressive strengths in excess of 276 000 kPa (40,000 psi). Although special machines have been designed to turn on a radius of 30 m (100 ft) in both horizontal and vertical directions, the conveyors and backup sup¬port equipment generally limit tunneling machines to turns with a radius of more than 60 m (200 ft). The full-face rotary rock-tunneling machines have provided the fastest and most reliable production of any mining method or machine. These machines can be equipped to place any of a variety of ground-support systems, and they can be provided as "open" machines, as shown in Fig. 1, or as "shielded" machines, as shown in Fig. 2. The open machines have the advantage of allowing the ground to be supported as near to the tunnel face as possible. The shielded machines have been designed principally to allow placing precast con¬crete segments. The shielded machines completely pro¬tect the equipment and personnel at the heading, but they are economically limited to permanent long-life haulageways where full lining is required. Partial-Face Rotary Rock-Tunneling Machines As shown in Fig. 3, the partial-face rotary tunneling machine is equipped with a cutterhead that rotates slowly at about 0.21 rad/s (2.0 rpm). The single-disk cutterhead produces the tunnel section shown in Fig. 4 by means of an oscillating motion. These machines work on the undercutting principle, and they are avail¬able in spring-line dimensional increments of 0.1 m (0.32 ft) from 1.5 to 2.1 m (5.0 to 7.0 ft); the vertical dimensions are 2.4 to 3.2 m (8.0 to 10.5 ft), respec¬tively. Depending upon the tunnel width, the cutterhead disk may be fitted with from 8 to 16 drag-bit cutters. Penetration is achieved by means of hydraulic rams that force the tungsten-carbide bits into the rock mass. The operation is cyclic, with cutting occurring only on the upstroke. On the downstroke, the rotating cutter¬head draws the fallen muck from the invert into the panzer-type conveyor for rearward transfer. This feature allows time to either reposition ore cars or to exit the tunnel with muck trains while the machine is cutting, as shown in Fig. 5. Boom-Type Rotary Excavators The boom-type rotary-excavator tunneling machines commonly are known as boom-type continuous miners
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