Now more than ever, people are prioritizing the wellbeing of our planet — especially those who rely on it for their livelihoods. Because of the environmental effects of mining, some operations are looking at methods other than drill and blast mining to harvest minerals. Continuous surface mining is an alternative that helps your crew work efficiently.
One advantage of this method is in the name — it’s continuous.
“Continuous is the operative word here,” said Mike Selover, corporate accounts manager for Specialty Excavation. “We’ve got machines in Bauxite mines running 8,000 hours a year. That means those machines are running 22 hours a day. Day and night, rain or shine. That’s continuous.”
Minimizing product dilution
A pure product means larger profits, so minimizing product dilution is a priority.
“Using a continuous surface mining method, you can actually mine layer by layer,” said Gregg Van Roekel, applications specialist. “This way you can precisely get down to those elements that you need so you’re not having as much product dilution.”
Mining layer by layer also helps control product size. Instead of the uncertainty of size that comes with drill and blast, continuous surface mining machines, like the Vermeer Terrain Leveler® surface excavation machines (SEM), use mechanical excavation to be precise. According to Selover, Vermeer equipment typically sees about nine-inch minus with very few fines.
“Product dilution is solved with continuous surfacing mining and product sizing is consistent,” said Selover.
Maximizing jobsite efficiency
Removing explosives from the jobsite helps prevent flyrock and minimizes dust that can be kicked up after the blast. Seismic vibrations are also a consideration with drill and blast. Continuous surface mining combats this by creating pit walls upon their cuts.
“It’s an advantage to be able to cut that high wall so you don’t have jagged edges coming out,” said Van Roekel.
Vermeer machines can cut anywhere from an 80- to 90-degree highwall, depending on which attachment you utilize.
“This is all about maximum material extraction for a quarry site,” said Selover. “ And when you use continuous surface mining you don’t have to store, handle or conduct a blast with high energy explosives,” said Selover.
Selective mining and loading
Continuous surface mining also equips you to be precise in what you mine and load out.
“Selective mining and selective loading are two things you can do with continuous surface mining that you can’t do with drilling and blasting,” said Selover.
Using software and drawing up a mine plan in three dimensions can help you have a calculated plan of attack for proceeding with your work. By putting in the pit sumps, ramps, roads and water features, you can plan where to go while you mine to maximize your efficiency.
“If you understand your geology through core sampling and know where the vein of the highest quality ore is, you can draw a mine plan and go right after that, whether it’s in the ground horizontally or vertically,” said Selover. “That’s selective mining, which is also known as follow the seam.”
The process of selective loading can be done visually or with GPS information and includes loading out the minerals that aren’t product diluted. Lower grade quality material is sorted separately and left behind, allowing only the pure product to be loaded out. By only taking the minerals you’re interested in you are maximizing the product quality and product margin by avoiding product dilution found in the drill and blast mining method, all while making efficient use of the land.
To learn more about maximizing your efficiency in the mining process, contact your local Vermeer dealer.
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