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Hydropower – a System for Providing Mechanical and Cooling Power in Deep Mining


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Author Joughin N


The implementation, during recent years, of the concept of distributing chilled water to improve cooling at the working faces represents a very important innovation for the mining world. In a logical extension to that concept it has been recognized that distribution of the cooling water at high pressure would provide a potential source of energy for driving water powered hydraulic machinery such as rockdrills, water jets for moving rock, and support props, in the workings. With this in mind, the Research Organization of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa is pursuing the development of such a dual system that will provide cooling in a deep mine and, at the same time, drive hydraulic machinery. A comprehensive design of such a system has been completed and has shown the concept to be entirely feasible technically using technologies currently available. A pilot system is working in a mine shaft 2000 m deep giving a pressure of 20 MPa at the bottom of the shaft and distributing the cold water into the workings at a pressure of 17 MPa. The system shows considerable potential for improving existing mining methods and will open the way for the development of new mining methods for deep mining operations.