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Rock mechanics and Future Mining


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Author Tillman V H


Future hard rock mining will gradually move towards complete mechanisation which lends itself to remote control and ultimately to robotic mining. This will require different technical inputs into mining engineering and one of these is in the area of rock’mechanics. Traditional hard rock mining has had little rock mechanics input. Problems arising from high stresses and poor ground conditions have in most cases be remedied after they occurred, in the worst case by abandoning a particular stope or area and starting elsewhere. In a fully mechanised remote or robotic mining situation the financial penalty for such an approach could be severe, as a major part of the production costs will be in the development and the equipment. It is therefore imperative that a complete rock mechanics feasibility study is undertaken before an area is set up for robot mining and that a continuous stability monitoring system is installed that will predict rock behaviour well in advance of mining, such that the necessary ground control measures can be implemented without impeding the continuity of mining. This system will utilise already existing instrumentation such as extensometers and stress cells, and possibly additional improved instrumentation which has to be developed for this particular Application.