Urban developments are popping up all over, including right next to quarries and mining operations. This means mining sites may need to adjust their methods to minimize disruptions taking place outside their walls. That could include moving away from the predominant drill and blast mining method, which uses high-energy explosives, and move toward other options, such as continuous surface mining.
“The main issue of relying on high energy explosives is flyrock,” explained Gregg Van Roekel, applications specialist in mining sales.
Flyrock is a fragment from the blast that wasn’t accounted for in an explosive environment. The unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of these rocks may lead to damage. With the distance between mines and developments shrinking, alternatives may be considered.
“With that comes the extra challenges of how we are going to be a good neighbor to people living within a close proximity to or working on a mining site,” said Van Roekel.
However, the challenges to neighbors of mining sites go beyond flyrock. Seismic vibrations from the blast could lead to undue stress on foundations and could potentially cause damage. In continuous surface mining, the blast is completely removed from the equation.
Noise disturbances from the site can also be a nuisance to neighbors.
Dust clouds produced from the blast are also disruptive to those surrounding the quarry because it can travel by wind with ease.
“A lot of government agencies are engaged regarding silicosis, and dust in the air and on jobsites,” said Mike Selover, Specialty Excavation corporate accounts manager. “Vermeer surface miners can help try and mitigate those concerns in a few different ways.”
The first thing is eliminating the blast and accompanying dust cloud. The initial dust cloud from a blast is large and can easily drift with the wind to nearby areas. By eliminating that blast and large dust cloud, you also eliminate that major disturbance to your neighbors.
Second, there is an optional vacuum dust suppression system available for certain Vermeer Terrain Leveler® surface excavation machines (SEM). An enclosed cutting head with two large vacuums continuously pulls dust into baghouses so the dust can be appropriately discarded, not just released into the air.
“Continuous surface mining is being that better neighbor,” said Selover. “We’re not conducting blasting, therefore, the vibration and blast with large dust cloud don’t exist. It’s a more controlled environment, essentially creating a better neighbor.”
For more information about continuous surface mining, contact your local dealer.
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