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Tunnel Boring Machines Assisting the Mining Industry

October 7, 2014 0 Comments

A Civil Construction Company will supply Tunnel Boring Machines to speed up a mining project.

Civil Construction Company, McConnell Dowell Constructors, brings tunnel boring machines (TBM) to assist underground coal contractor Mastermyne with developing successful drifts in underground coal mines. Tunnel boring machines (TBM) are conventionally used within the Civil Construction Industry to create long tunnels for highways and metros.

The traditional use of conventional road headers to create drifts is a slow process… and that’s where the tunnel boring machines come in. They deliver as many metres in one shift as a road header does in a week. Basically, TBMs will quadruple the pace of drift development. They also eliminate the need to re-bolt and re-support in the future. This means cost reduction including – labour costs, camp costs and flight costs. The other big advantage is increased safety.

That’s the upsides.

The downside is that they are costly. This is the reason tunnel boring machines haven’t been a popular choice for the mining industry. Some of the machines cost between 10 and 20 million Euros each. They are feasible in civil construction when creating kilometres of tunnels, but in coal mining, drifts often only range between 1000 metres to 2000 metres.

For this reason a drift arrangement, lining, and TBM of standard size and design has been put together for the joint venture.

David Sibthorpe of McConnell Dowell who is leading the joint venture between McConnell Dowell and Mastermyne said, “The concept is to make it repeatable, so that we can spread the capital expenditure over many drift projects, not just the first one”.

With the hope of other mining companies taking advantage of tunnel boring machines, McConnell Dowell is offering advice on how to structure mine layouts to accommodate the large TBM drift deliveries.

It appears that the lines of Civil Construction technology and mining overlap with the use of TBM’s as more mining companies see the benefits of them. The Grosvenor project in QLD is already using one – being operated by Redpath.

“We had been pushing civil technology in the coal mining sector for a long time and we worked out that together, with Mastermyne, we had more sector credibility; we’ve got the tunnel boring machine experience and they’ve got the coal experience and statutory coverage in house, so we formalised a joint venture to introduce these civil technologies to the mining industry,” Mr Sibthorpe said.

Filed in: Featured, Industry News

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