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How to achieve faster drifting in mining, some


SME Denver February 2007

Gunnar Nord Atlas Copco Rock Drill AB Sweden
Comparison of objectives
ƒ Objectives for the tunnel builder
– To make the tunnel face advance as fast as possible
ƒ Fulfil the requirements in the design
ƒ Time and cost are strongly related 70% of cost is time related
ƒ Utilization of the equipment is a secondary priority
– Meet the safety and environmental regulations

ƒ Objectives for the miner

– Fulfil production goals in tons or m3
– Mine the tons as cheap as possible
– Ensure a high utilization of the equipment
– Meet the safety and environmental regulations

ƒ Let us look at the tunnel building approach and see if

it can be applied in the mining!
Parameters to play with

ƒ The Size of the opening

ƒ The length of the rounds (either ruled by stability or momentum aspects)
ƒ Support and water handling approach
ƒ Scaling
ƒ The number of activities in the excavation cycle
ƒ Demand on labour and management and set up of pay rules
ƒ Choice of equipment and building material
ƒ Safety regulations
ƒ Communications underground
The size of the opening, an example from a
rail tunnel in Helsinki Finland
The Savio single track rail tunnel in Helsinki
Finland 13,5 km long
ƒ An enlarged tunnel section meant
– Faster advance rate
– Lower cost

ƒ The project owner

– Asked for a 6.6 m wide tunnel
– He was offered a 7.5 m tunnel
– Why? Loading could be done right up at the face
– These statement are valid for 4 of the 5 contracts of the Savio tunnel

ƒ Conditions
– Good rock conditions with most of the support behind face
– Long muck haul ways on public roads (one way 20 km)

ƒ It is not obvious that the smaller the tunnel is the faster it can be
The length of the rounds
ƒ Drill and blast drifting / tunnelling is a number of sequential operations
ƒ Each operation requires the same mobilization/demobilization of the gear
irrespective of the length of the round
ƒ If the total time for all mobilization and demobilization is 90 minutes the time
saving when going from a 4 m round to a 5 m round will consequently be
90 min for every 20 m of tunnel.
ƒ There are other savings as well because there are other activities that are
not related to the length of the round like collaring of the drill, cleaning of
the tunnel invert, scaling of face, etc
ƒ A created drifting case with X-section 6x6 m has been estimated with
respect to advance rate for 4 and 5 m rounds
A drifting case for comparison of the advance
rate for a 4 m and 5 m round respectively
Background figures
ƒ X-section 6x6 m (20x20 feet) 33 m2
ƒ 14 feet round (4 m)
– 64 blast holes
– 2 big uncharged holes
– 2 bolts /m each 2,4 m
– 5 cm of shotcrete in the roof
– Loading bays every 100 m

ƒ 18 feet round (5 m)
– 68 blast holes
– 3 big uncharged holes

ƒ The advance rate for the 18 feet round is 12% faster

ƒ In poorer ground with doubled bolting and tripled shotcrete 9% faster
Support work and handling of water
ƒ In mine drifting, common situation
– One or two support designs to be applied in all drifts
– All support measures to installed at face
– The support design shall cover most of the rock mechanical scenarios of
the mine
– Logistically easy to handle
– Many feet of drifts are over supported

ƒ In tunnel building, common situation

– Support-measures adapted to the actual ground conditions
– Support measures split on installation at face and behind face
– More intelligence efforts are spent on establishing ground conditions
ahead and for each round excavated than in mine drifting
– Generally less support at face – Gives faster advance of the headings

ƒ The activity that the face that shows the largest variety of methods
ƒ The large variety of methods is ruled by variation of the geology
ƒ But surprisingly:
– A mine site or a tunnel building site most often has only one method of

ƒ In general it can be said that the tunnel builder has nothing specific to
offer the miner
ƒ The various scaling methods will be listed and some will be
Different types of scaling
1 Manual scaling using a bar

2 Scaling by using the drill rig ( a misuse of the equipment)

3 Mechanical scaling using a breaking tooth (hydraulic power)
4 Mechanical scaling with hydraulic breaker
5 Ripping with steel bar mounted on loader or excavator
6 High pressure water flushing
7 Water-cleaning using nozzle of shotcrete spraying unit

No scaling at all!
Mechanical scaling with hydraulic breaker
Mine application
Mechanical scaling with hydraulic breaker
Tunnelling application
Ripping with a steel bar
May require supplementary manual scaling as check up
High water pressure flushing
Scaling continuation

ƒ Flushing with the regular water spraying system of the shotcrete gun
– Many geological formations cannot take the pressure from the water jet
spraying, they start ravelling
– The regular cleaning process as used before shotcreting is adequate

ƒ Only spraying with air

– It is well known that there are geological formations that start deteriorate
or swell on exposure to water
– The air spraying capacity of the shotcrete rig is used

ƒ No scaling at all
– Unless thoroughly analysed as the best option this must be considered as
a method “Piling up problems for the future”
Number of activities in the tunnel excavation
ƒ The number of activities at the drift-face is balanced by the ambitions
– To keep them down and make time savings on the mobilizations
– To keep them up not having to create multipurpose equipment, a rig that
has to perform two different activities will often have disadvantages like
hampering the speed or the quality of the work when comparing with a
single purpose tool

ƒ Normally the number of activities at the face is 7 or 8

– Roughly 11/2 is spent on mobilizations and demobilizations
– There are savings to be made
A large number of sequential
Mobilization and demobilization activities at
the face
1 Drilling of blast holes Time for mobilization (demobilzation
during channeling)
2 Charging and Blasting Time for demobilization
3 Ventilation
4 Mucking out Time for mobilization, demobilzation
time is nil
5 Scaling Time for mobilization and
6 Shotcrete support Might be combined with scaling
7 Bolting Same mobilization as for drilling
Conclusions on the number of activities at
the drifting face
ƒ There are no drastic cuts to be made
ƒ But trimming and overlapping will give noticeable timesaving
ƒ There are options to move activities to areas behind the face
Demand on labour and management

ƒ To achieve high speed drifting devoted and skilled people is needed

ƒ What is meant by skilled and devoted people?
ƒ Example the Vinstra case from Norway 1950
– 30 m2 tunnel
– Bottom pilot with 7 feet long rounds
– The Crown was slash
– Hand held drilling with pusher leg drilling machine had a 85% utilization
– Mobilization of a new round took 7 minutes
– Production 100 meters / month

Vinstra Norway 1950 case on devoted crew
Vinstra Norway

Devoted crew
Long term capacity 100 m / month
When drilling, the machine is in
operation 85% of the time
Mobilization of a new round
took 7 minutes
How much faster was tunnelling 1998 when
comparing with 1973 a 25 year period
ƒ A study was made 1998 on the advance rate on a 70 m2 road tunnel
– Both for year 1973 and 1998 conditions
– People with long experience from tunnelling both 1973 and 1998 were
– The purpose of the study was to show how much the tunnelling speed had

ƒ The speed had only improved from 0,31 m / total hour to 0,38 m /
total hour
ƒ Details are exhibited on following slide
Situation Situation Dimension
1973 1998
Pull of the round 3,7 4,9 [meters]
Drilling 3,75 2,75 [hours]
Charging & Blasting 0,25 1,25 [hours]
Ventilation 0,50 0,50 [hours]
Scaling 0,50 1,50 [hours]
Mucking 3,50 3,50 [hours]
Shotcrete 3 & 4 m3 respectively 1,25 1,00 [hours]
Bolting 15 & 20 bolts respectively 1,00 1,00 [hours]
Setting out and marking 0,50 0,00 [hours]
Time lost 0,75 1,50 [hours]
Sum time for a round 12,00 13,00 [hours]
Advance rate 0,31 0,38 [m/hr]
Conclusions from the study

ƒ Equipment has made it possible to achieve far better progress

ƒ Stricter safety regulations has drastically added time to the round
ƒ A more relaxed attitude to work has also added time to round
– This phenomena can be observed in the rest of our society
– It is not believed that this trend can be broken

ƒ Maybe the solution is a much higher degree of mechanization and

automation where man is given more the role of controlling and
observing – the equipment sets the speed

ƒ Expected improvement of the advance rate of the drift face is hardly

visible and in many cases it is the other way round
ƒ Modern mining and tunnelling equipment really have the potential to
boost the speed of the drifting face
ƒ Underground mining and tunnelling people cannot be separated out
from the rest of our society. To be attractive for the new generation it
has to be provided a working environment they feel familiar with.
ƒ A good working environment means
– A safe and comfortable working place
– Proper training in the trade
– Working with modern mining equipment and technology