Stuck drill rods (often referred to as bogged rods) in production ‘upholes' are a common problem in the underground mining industry. Bogged and broken off drill rods have the potential to fall out of the hole without warning, posing a serious hazard to personnel and equipment below.
Current industry practice to alleviate this hazard can be to either grout the hole in order to lock the drill rods in place, or to ‘plate over' the hole with a rock bolt. Each of these operations seriously delays mine production as both require demobilisation of the production drill and mobilisation of alternative personnel and equipment to address the hazard. Both methods have been assessed for safety and efficiency and were found to be expensive, time consuming and in the case of plating over, ineffective.
To address the safety and efficiency short-comings of the traditional practices, the long hole plug (LHP) has been developed to safely secure the lost rods in the hole. The LHP when struck by falling drill rods behaves similar to an expansion shell anchor transferring the axial forces from the falling drill rods horizontally into the rock mass. It is installed using standard production drills allowing work to safely continue with little interruption.
Extensive testing has been carried out on the LHP in the laboratory and underground at the Rosebery mine on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia. Testing has included static pull testing, full scale drop testing and underground trials.
The outcome of this work has proven the LHPs ability to add safety, volume and cost benefits to the Rosebery underground operation and it is currently in use at that site. It enables proven elimination of a common workplace hazard immediately, thus eliminating delay on the mine's production cycle.
Thomas, S, Noonan, G and Limbert, M, 2017. Long hole plug – addressing the hazard of bogged rods in ‘upholes', in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators' Conference 2017, pp 305–310 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).