Automation to Change the way we Mine in Narrow-Veins

Walter Siggelkow,
Abstract The future is here – or at least that’s what Mine Planners predicted some 15 years ago – that by 2004 we would have man-less mines running themselves using space-aged technology. Truthfully, though, there hasn’t been much change in mining methods in the past decade, but thankfully that’s all about to change.

The benefits of autonomous – even Tele-operated mining (especially in narrow-vein ore bodies) are well-known: increased production hours by eliminating travel time to and from the face, continuous production at the face while crews screen and bolt behind the working equipment, less liability for workers’ safety in certain areas, etc. But when plans are put in place to accomplish this vision, things stagnate and production carries on as before.

This paper examines the components necessary to make that vision a reality. First we’ll detail the technology required to enable Tele-operation – even autonomous operation of mining machinery, then we’ll look at what’s wrong with the current way we’re mining, and finally conclude with a critique of the machinery itself.
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