Underground Mining Development

Underground mining has been around for centuries; its techniques improving over years of developing new processes and technologies. At the surface, mining may seem as simple as digging tunnels or shafts. Earth excavation, however, is both dangerous and difficult to execute properly without the right types of processes in place. Underground mine development seeks to refine approaches and ensure safety while acquiring needed materials. 

Depending on the mining techniques used, some underground mining projects may increase or reduce productivity. Careful consideration should be given to factors such as: size, shape, orientation of ore body, strength of rock materials, and all depths involved. 

underground mining types

What is Underground Mining?

Underground mining is the process of extracting minerals, rocks and other industrial materials other than oil, coal and gas from the earth through the development of shafts and entries from the surface to the deposits or seam before recovering the products and using underground extraction methods.

The shafts created in underground mining are usually too deep compared to surface mining methods.

How Are Underground Mines Created?

Underground mining has changed a lot over the years, since the 19th century when men started using shovels to tote canaries and make sure that the air underground was not toxic.

The modern mines feature extensive water-drainage and ventilation systems including high-tech communication networks with computerized machines in order to reduce the number of humans that are required underground. 

Most mines normally have crucial components in common such as ventilation shafts and clear toxic fumes for blasting and drilling, access shafts to help lower equipment and workers and escape routes.

They also contain ore-transportation tunnels, communication systems that can send information back and forth from deep within the earth and recovery shafts that can carry excavated ore back to the surface.

However, no two mines are usually alike, and technological advances and application on the design and mining methods have greatly changed. These also rest on considerations such as: 

  • The composition of the rocks, 
  • The ore being mined
  • The orientation of the ore deposit, 
  • Simple economics 
  • The geological features found underground, and
  • The determination of hard or soft mining.

Hard-Rock Underground Mining

There are some hard-rock underground mines and soft-rock underground mines. For instance, coal deposits are usually found in soft sedimentary rocks, while gold deposits live in metamorphic igneous hard rocks, and so does copper, diamond, silver, zinc and nickel.

Block caving

This is a common hard-rock mining method that’s typically used to mine low-grade ore. It is a process where drilling a section of the ore at the very bottom of the deposits is done before blasting to make the roof collapse.

The gravity then takes over as the ore above the blast collapses and any succession support is withdrawn. This collapsed ore is then hauled out of the mine for further processing.

underground mining development

Soft-Rock Underground Mining

For coal, uranium, salt, oil shale and phosphate you will be forced to mine in soft rocks. This is where they live and the two main methods are longwall and room and pillar mining procedures. Most of the coal is extracted using room and pillar approaches.

Room and Pillar Mining

This is used for seams and it is a relatively gentle and flat dipping process. The ‘room’ and ‘large’ pillars are mined for coal and left behind to support the weight of the rock layers and overburden above.

This type of the mining process is traditionally used for underground mining in Colorado and results in at least 75% recovery of coal seam.

Longwall Mining

This refers to a mechanized method of coal mining where the coal shearer is mounted between a self-advancing hydraulic roof and conveyor system. The machine then moves along the panel of coal to about 820 feet.

This is almost completely automated. While the coal is removed and transported through the conveyer, the roof supports are also removed, thus allowing the roof to collapse into the void.

This method results in at least 90% of coal mining but it is likely to cause the surface subsidence features.

Common Parts Of The World Where Underground Mining Is A Large Industry

There are many industries in the world relying on the supply of mineral commodities from underground mining, and the dependency on high-tech industries. Coal is actually one of the leading global energy resources.

Additionally, the mining sector is quite pivotal to the economy of the world, and the revenue for the top 40 global mining companies represents a majority of the whole industry. This amounted to approximately 650 billion US dollars in the year 2020.

The top areas of the world contributing largely to underground mining include;

  • The US – primarily Colorado
  • Australia
  • Brazin
  • Canada
  • China, 
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • The EU

Company Requirements Before Starting Underground Mining

Companies wishing to get involved in underground mining should first ensure they fulfill the following requirements;

  • Specific mile plan for operations
  • Bonding, patterns and reclamation plans
  • Acquired permits for water pollution – this should include discharge permit, discharge pollutant elimination system, stormwater pollution prevention, a countermeasure plan and spill prevention control.
  • Air quality permits
  • Artificial pond permits
  • Hazardous materials waste permits 
  • Water rights
  • Well-drilling permits
  • Right of way authorizations, access and road use authorizations 

underground mine development

AMS Providing Underground Mining Services

We are experts in construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation for mining projects of all sizes. We work to ensure that each mining project is given the opportunity to capitalize on the advantages of different types of mining approaches, techniques, and much more.

Our AMS contractor services are in high demand, helping contractors to improve processes, facilitate oversight, and provide oversight for a number of different mining projects. 

  • Underground Development
  • Contract Operations and Training
  • Equipment and Facility Installation
  • Mine Rehabilitation
  • Mine Sealing
  • Drill and Blast
  • Rock Excavation
  • Ground Support
  • Tunneling
  • Highwall Work

For more information on our services, contact us directly.