Man-less underground mining - hurdles on the way to make dreams come true
The implementation of automation has been a quantum leap with regards to technology progress in different industries. Due to its numerous advantages, it constitutes an attractive opportunity to improve productivity and reduce costs in underground metal mining. Unfortunately, despite optimistic forecasts pronounced in the past, there is still a long way ahead before man-less mining becomes a reality. In this context this paper reviews technological, organisational and human aspects of automation and its implementation in underground metal mining. It is stressed that with regards to different mining operations (hoisting, loading, drilling, explosive charging, scaling, etc.), a technological progress achieved in the field of remote controlled, man-less mining varies substantially. Based on this review, main adverse factors impeding large-scale underground automation are identified and discussed. In this respect, this paper attempts also to indicate how to address some of the most frequently encountered problems and obstacles. In the conclusion it is stated that despite the automation being a "hot" issue, mining people should develop a more rational attitude to it, based on better comprehension, more patience and perseverance.
Metal mining, human factors, Technology, obstacles, Automation, Implementation