The mining industry has many essential tools that enable miners to get the job done effectively and safely. Obviously, the point of many of these tools is to obtain the ore or coal as efficiently as possible, but there are also safety concerns that are paramount in a potentially risky industry. If you’re new to mining, here are some of the key tools you can expect to find:
Drills are used to help create the access holes into the mine or increase the size of natural entrances. When drilling, it’s essential that operators know precisely where to drill and how deep to go to ensure the rock breaks in the right way to expose the seam or enlarge the space without causing any kind of collapse or weakening of the mineshaft.
Miners also use drills to make holes in the rocks inside the mine in which to place explosives. When the charges blow, fresh deposits are revealed that the miners can harvest from the overburden material. These explosive charges are now primarily controlled using remote control machinery.
Blasting is the process of using explosives to fracture rocks and other materials underground to allow access to the ore or coal. Often there will be a barrier between the existing access route and a valuable seam deeper into the rock, and blasting is used to clear the barrier and allow access. Miners use unmanned drilling rigs to do the drilling at the points previously determined by manual inspection and technological assessment. Blasting is a highly skilled job that requires absolute precision to carry out safely.
Underground the air is of poor quality and likely to be contaminated with potentially harmful gases and dust particles. Mines have to have efficient ventilation and dust extraction systems installed to keep exposure to a minimum and ensure the air quality is good. In the early days of mining, many miners were affected by being exposed to contaminants in the air, which led to chronic and terminal health problems. Extractors and ventilators are now an essential requirement for health and safety, as are the industrial fans Australia manufactures for a range of air circulation purposes.
In many mining industries, very small seams are worth accessing to optimise productivity, so rocks and stones are broken up using crushing tools to reveal smaller pockets of ore. This process help keep mining efficient and also enables better control of materials on site. Crusher efficiency is controlled by the weighfeeders, belts that feed the raw materials into the crusher for processing. When the rock and stone are crushed to a suitable size, fraction processing takes place, for example, milling, flotation, and leaching to extract every gram of valuable matter.
The current collection of mining tools is essentially the same as the tools miners were using in previous centuries, but they are now far more sophisticated, enabling miners to operate in a safer environment and at the same time harvest the maximum quantity of precious materials from the mine.
Read more at Queensland Mining & Energy Bulletin