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The Loader Distributor Train – an Advanced System for High Speed Mucking of Hard Rock Tunnels


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Author Harris P N and Luck D


Current methods of mucking out small development tunnels are a major limitation to improved efficiency and high rates of advance. This is particularly true in the deep metalliferous mines of South Africa, where the harsh environment, remoteness of operations and the hard abrasive rock conditions mitigate against the use of the tunnel borer type of equipment. The Loader Distributor Train was designed to overcome the special problems of hard rock tunnelling. It combines advanced innovative technology with proven simple methods of operation and maintenance. The system aims at taking advantage of new, efficient and cost effective power sources in South African mines based on replacing compressed air with electro hydraulics and the new concept of hydropower. It also introduces electronics and computer technology, for both automatic control and fault finding, into the production environment. The system is designed to permit sophisticated equipment to be operated and maintained by a semi skilled labour force. Although still undergoing trials it is believed that the Loader Distributor Train will prove highly effective, and that the new concepts offer considerable potential in areas other than flat tunnels, in particular the cleaning of inclined shafts.