What is SHAFT MINING? What does SHAFT MINING mean? SHAFT MINING meaning - SHAFT MINING definition - SHAFT MINING explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Shaft mining or shaft sinking is excavating a vertical or near-vertical tunnel from the top down, where there is initially no access to the bottom.
Shallow shafts, typically sunk for civil engineering projects differ greatly in execution method from deep shafts, typically sunk for mining projects. When the top of the excavation is the ground surface, it is referred to as a shaft; when the top of the excavation is underground, it is called a winze or a sub-shaft. Small shafts may be excavated upwards from within an existing mine as long as there is access at the bottom, in which case they are called Raises. A shaft may be either vertical or inclined (between 45 and 90 degrees to the horizontal), although most modern mine shafts are vertical. If access exists at the bottom of the proposed shaft and ground conditions allow then raise boring may be used to excavate the shaft from the bottom up, such shafts are called borehole shafts. Shaft Sinking is one of the most difficult of all development methods: restricted space, gravity, groundwater and specialized procedures make the task quite formidable.
Historically mine shaft sinking has been among the most dangerous of all mining occupations and the preserve of mining contractors. Today shaft sinking contractors are concentrated in Canada and South Africa.
The most visible feature of a mine shaft is the headframe (or winding tower, poppet head or pit head) which stands above the shaft. Depending on the type of hoist used the top of the headframe will either house a hoist motor or a sheave wheel (with the hoist motor mounted on the ground). The headframe will also contain bins for storing ore being transferred to the processing facility.
At ground level beneath and around the headframe is the Shaft Collar (also called the Bank or Deck), which provides the foundation necessary to support the weight of the headframe and provides a means for men, materials and services to enter and exit the shaft. Collars are usually massive reinforced concrete structures with more than one level. If the shaft is used for mine ventilation, a plenum space or casing is incorporated into the collar to ensure the proper flow of air into and out of the mine.
Beneath the Collar the part of the shaft which continues into the ground is called the Shaft Barrel.
At locations where the Shaft Barrel meets horizontal workings there is a Shaft Station which allows men, materials and services to enter and exit the shaft. From the station tunnels (drifts, galleries or levels) extend towards the ore body, sometimes for many kilometers. The lowest Shaft Station is most often the point where rock leaves the mine levels and is transferred to the shaft, if so a Loading Pocket is excavated on one side of the shaft at this location to allow transfer facilities to be built.
Beneath the lowest Shaft Station the shaft continues on for some distance, this area is referred to as the Shaft Bottom. A tunnel called a Ramp typically connects the bottom of the shaft with the rest of the mine, this Ramp often contains the mine's water handling facility, called the Sump, as water will naturally flow to the lowest point in the mine.
Shafts may be sunk by conventional drill and blast or mechanised means. The industry is gradually attempting to shift further towards shaft boring but a reliable method to do so has yet to be developed.
The shaft lining performs several functions; it is first and foremost a safety feature preventing loose or unstable rock from falling into the shaft, then a place for shaft sets to bolt into and lastly a smooth surface to minimise resistance to airflow for ventilation.
In North and South America, smaller shafts are designed to be rectangular with timber supports. Larger shafts are round and are concrete lined.
Final choice of shaft lining is dependent on the geology of the rock which the shaft passes through, some shafts have several liners sections as required Where shafts are sunk in very competent rock there may be no requirement for lining at all, or just the installation of welded mesh and rock bolts. The material of choice for shaft lining is mass concrete which is poured behind Shaft Forms in Lifts of 6m as the shaft advances (gets deeper).