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Benefits of Advanced Technology in Underground Mining


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Author M Edhammer and S Topalovic


In 2007, Atlas Copco introduced an integrated tunnel scanner/profiler. The tunnel scanner, which is integrated into the control system, is mounted on the drill rigs, and replaces the previous variants of non-integrated scanner equipment.

The Atlas Copco Tunnel Profiler, which is the name of this system, is currently being used by several contractors and mines on various projects in Scandinavia, Finland and Australia.

Atlas Copco Tunnel Profiler can scan a tunnel of 65 m2 in just five minutes and is integrated with the computerised control system for the drill rig. This integration means that the results of scanning are immediately available for analysis on the computer screen both in the drill rig and in Tunnel Manager; a software for tunnel and drift planning.

In 2008, a method was introduced for locating the drill rig with a total station navigation (TSN) system, integrated into the control system. TSN systems are used by a number of contractors in Scandinavia and Finland, as well as elsewhere in the world. Using a TSN for navigation is in itself not new, but when this is integrated with the control system it provides the opportunity for individual drill rig operators to use this method, without the direct assistance of a surveyor. TSN gives a very precise indication of the drill rig’s position in relation to the tunnel design. An accuracy of ±1 cm compared with the ±10 cm which is normally obtained with the traditional method using tunnel laser and sight plates on the drill rig’s feeder.

The closer a tunnel is blasted to its planned profile, potentially the more is saved in terms of less shotcreting, extra rock bolting and other corrective work. A better quality tunnel is the key to better overall economy and today’s technology makes it possible to achieve that goal in every type of tunnelling and mining project.

In addition to total station’s ­navigation and Tunnel Profiler, the concept of ‘high precision tunnelling’ also includes:

•Software tunnel planning: Tunnel Manager, Tunnel Manager Pro and Tunnel Manager Measure while drilling.

•Measurement While Drilling (MWD)collects the various drilling data and the interpretation of these for the early identification of variations in the rock.

•Rig Remote Access (RRA) is a
support for wireless or wired communication between drill rig and planning
office. The result is being able to send planning data to the drill rig and to
simultaneously have the facility for logged files to be sent from the rig to the
office. There is an option of an external computer logging in to the drill rig’s
control system to view menu screens and settings, and remotely troubleshoot and
plan appropriate action.

Edhammer, M and
Topalovic, S, 2011. Benefits of
advanced technology in underground mining, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

pp 283-292 (The Australasian Institute of
Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).