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Trackless Mining – the Western Deeps

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Author Williams A W and Dierling D H
ID P198601126

Description

The paper briefly describes the mining system employed on Western Deep Levels for the past 20 years. The negative aspects which gave rise to a new mechanized method of mining are discussed. The sequence of events leading from the Mine’s first attempt at trackless mining in 1980 to the present day in-stope project is presented. The original justification for this project and the in-stope trackless mining method is described in detail. The results to date are evaluated and the original rationale for going in-stope trackless mining questioned. A totally new mining philosophy for Western Deep Levels, whereby major geological disturbances are left in situ and longwalls re-established and mined using trackless mining machinery is described. The economics of this mining method are discussed. Trackless mining machinery can also be put to good use within the conventional longwalls in a new method of mining using Load Haul Dumpers (LHD) in reef drives. When the instope trackless mining project commenced in 1983, it was stated that expansion to any significant degree with diesel powered vehicles could be ruled out and electrically driven alternatives would have to be developed. This issue is discussed and the Mine’s decision to expand with diesel powered vehicles explained. Finally, the extent to which trackless mining is likely to be seen in the 1990 s at Western Deep Levels is discussed.