1Faculty of Mining, Petroleum and Geophysics, Shahrood University of Technology; Shahrood, Iran
2Department of Mining, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
The first step in mining activities is rock excavation in both mine development and production. Constant pressure for cost reduction and creating an improved/safe work environment for personnel has naturally resulted in increased use of mechanical excavation systems in many mining operations. Also, mechanical excavation and mining is more compatible with automation, meaning possibility of reduction in number of people in the active underground mines. This factor plays a major role in selection of mining systems especially considering the dire shortage of skilled labour in the industry. While these systems are an integral part of mining activities in underground soft rock mining (coal, salt, potash, trona etc.), there is a need for developing new approaches and machinery for use in the underground hard rock mining. This paper will offer a review of current and emerging technologies for mechanical hard rock excavation, including disc cutting technology, drag picks, mini-disc, and activated/oscillating disc cutter. A review of general guidelines for assessment of the potentials of new research and development on this topic and evaluation of emerging technologies for a specific mining application will also be offered.