Mining infrastructure goes well beyond the mine itself. It involves such a varied list of structures and processes that it’s almost impossible to pin down to a concise definition.
Mining infrastructure involves things such as access roads, stormwater services, box cuts for new mining portals, railway lines, and much more. In this article we’ll look at the key areas of mining infrastructure that help the whole process run smoothly.
Primary mining infrastructure
Perhaps the most obvious aspects of mining infrastructure are related to the actual process of mining. These include accessing the mining site, acquiring the materials, and transporting them from the mine.
Box cuts for new mining portals are perhaps the best place to start. Box cuts include blasting and temporary wall support to access the mine site. Temporary wall supports include rock bolts and wire mesh to prevent rockslides as the box cut descends into the mine.
As the mine develops, there is a need for new platforms and laydown areas for new shafts. Laydown areas typically act as spaces to store materials and equipment during construction of the new shafts. New platforms similarly act as a place to store equipment while working in a shaft.
Temporary and permanent access/haul roads are necessary for transporting equipment into the mine site. This equipment will include everything necessary for building and working the mine, so the roads need to be well constructed. Similarly, it’s a way of transporting materials out of the mine. Depending on the projected lifespan of the mine, these roads will either be temporary or permanent.
Railway lines and sidings are another vital aspect of mining infrastructure because they offer a fast and effective way of transporting materials and goods. Railway lines are also sometimes used for transporting materials out of a mine, in which case they need well-built sidings to prevent cave-ins. However, this method is dying out in more modern underground mines.
Secondary mining infrastructure
A major hazard in both aboveground and underground mines is stormwater. Mines need stormwater canals to help prevent flooding in the mine. These channels often run down the side of mine sites to help divert water away from the primary mining area.
Mining infrastructure involves both control dams and tailings dams. A control dam is fairly self-explanatory: it involves controlling water to keep it away from a mining site. A tailings dam is an embankment made from the byproduct of mining after the ore has been separated. Part of its purpose is pollution control, as much of this waste material can be hazardous or radioactive. Tailings dams build up over time to control water flow too.
SCRIBANTE mining infrastructure
SCRIBANTE is familiar with all key aspects of mining infrastructure, and we help our clients to construct safe and efficient mining systems. If you’re new to the South Africa mining industry and need help with your mining infrastructure, contact SCRIBANTE for information on what we can do for you.