There are numerous methods of mining. Do you know the difference between open-cut mining and dredge mining, or longwall mining from bord and pillar? Well, this article will be covering all of that. Mining equipment suppliers need to provide a range of different tools because of the many types of mining methods available. We have broken this article down into three sections, surface mining, underground mining and oil and gas extraction. These are by no means the only methods of mining, but instead methods of mining that are used within Australia.
Surface mining is typically used for mineral and coal deposits that are relatively close to the surface. Australia has numerous useful resources and deposits such as gold, coal, iron, and copper, found near the surface.
Open-cut mining is the typical way surface mines are constructed. Usually, an open-cut mine removes all the surface material or “overburden” from above the deposit. Blasting is used to remove the overburden, and taken away by the bucket load over time. Once the deposit is found, such as a coal seam, drills and surface miners are used to extract the material. Open-cut mines are Australia’s most common method of mining as they’re cost-efficient, and recover around 90% of the deposit.
Dredge mining is another method of open-cut mining that takes place in a flowing body of water with a dredger that sits on the surface to extract the sediment such as sand, gravel, rock and valuable minerals. Usually, dredge mining is used for extracting raw gold from rivers.
Underground mining is where it gets more complicated. There are numerous methods of extracting resources from deep within the ground, but one thing is for sure, it’s complicated and requires a lot of coordination and planning.
Bord and pillar is the oldest method of underground mining. In bord and pillar mines, workers use a cross-section tunnel system. Coal is cut out from around the pillars, to allow structural support as well as ventilation and passages for the miners. This older method of mining is still used today in some mines, but Australia for the most part has moved on to more efficient methods.
Longwall is the most common method of mining within Australia, as it’s more efficient and safer than others. Essentially, there’s a mechanical horizontal directional drilling shaft that runs along the coal wall and breaks it apart in layers. This is more efficient because there aren’t any pillars of coal left behind like there are in bord and pillar mines, instead, hydraulic structural supports are installed as the coal is removed behind the machine, keeping everything structurally stable.
Oil and gas extraction is typically done at the surface with a drill dig. It can either be in the sea or on the ground. There are a few ways to extract oil and gas, but for the most part, we’ll talk about the most common methods of extraction.
When you think of a drill rig, you think of the drill going vertically down into the ground and that’s exactly what happens. Vertical drilling is used if there is a large gas or oil deposit that’s trapped between bedding layers. Once the oil has been drilled, it’s drawn up through a casing system in the ground through a pressure system. There are disadvantages to vertical drilling, as it can’t access all of the oil in an area, without the need for a massive field of drill rigs.
Directional drilling is used to drill lengthways through a layer of material, such as shale, to extract oil. A directional drill can be controlled by the driller who steers it through a bedding layer. This method allows for more material to be extracted, usually through fracking – a high-pressure liquid that breaks the shale.
You may wonder why this is way more efficient than vertical drilling. Well, think of the layers of rocks as the layers of a cut loaf of bread. They’re wider than they are thick, so if you run a drill bit horizontally through a layer, you’re able to extract more material than you would vertically. This also means only one rig needs to be installed in place of a dozen in a field or on the ocean.
Look for a leading mining equipment supplier. Ask thorough questions about their range of surface miners, directional drills, rock cutters and vacuum excavation trucks, to make sure you get the right equipment for the job.