Automated Continuous Mining at Sylvite
Sylvite's potash mine, which produces 8,000 tons of ore per day, probably ranks as one of the most highly mechanized and automated mining operations in the world. Employing, on a normal 10-hour production shift, one supervisor and a crew of seven operators, Sylvite is able to mine at an average rate in excess of 600 tons per hour. The ore is produced by two Marietta miners weighing 258 tons, the largest and heaviest pieces of equipment ever taken underground. The ore produced by these two Marietta miners is conveyed to the shaft area, cycled through a 15,000-ton storage system and hoisted to surface completely automatically. The operation of all equipment in the mine can be monitored and controlled from a central control panel located underground. Because Sylvite's mine is a new operation with equipment of a new design, the full potential of the operation has not yet been realized. The ultimate capability is clearly evident from the success Sylvite has had over the past year as the average mining capability has risen from 100 tons per hour to 600 tons per hour.
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