Hard rock mines, like those that harvest diamond and metals, are deep, therefore feature steep inclines. While there are a variety of methods in place to mine from these types of sites, the method will very much depend on the geometry of the mine’s ore body, as well as its stability.
The ore is blasted and drilled to break it up and then removed using a machine. Once this has been done a truck will drive the haul away, or a chute will be used to transport it to a crusher located underground and then shifted via conveyor belts. There a lot of moving parts involved, so it stands to good reason that there are dangers at play.
Miners who work underground often use diesel machines to carry out their work. If the ventilation is insufficient this can result in poisoning. There are more toxic materials to consider, including aerosols, blasting fumes, dust, and gases that are released from the rock. This is why ventilation is so vital.
A mine collapse could occur due to a number of factors, including the use of explosives, timbering failure, induced seismicity, and explosions from gas or dust.
There are a variety of fire sources located in underground mining. Conveyor belts can rub, friction can also be created from defective bearings in machinery, and more. When you consider the amount of machinery that is used in the operation you can understand why fire is a large risk.
- Falling Objects
This is separate from the complete collapse of the mine, if the orebody isn’t stable then miners are at risk of being hit by falling objects. Of course, this risk is present when using different machinery and equipment, too.
There are some dangers that are part and parcel of the mining industry in general, however, many of those listed above are specific risks to underground mining operations.