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Hard-Rock Equipment
Selection and Sizing
Peter L. McCarthy

INTRODUCTION allow ramps to be steepened. This could reduce overall costs,

Whereas underground equipment should be selected to suit the and it is this larger context that must be analyzed.
mine, it is equally true that the mine should be designed to Machines should be compared in terms of capital cost,
suit the equipment. It is impossible to begin mine planning and operating cost, specifications, performance, availability, ease
scheduling without a good idea of the type and size of equip- of maintenance, service and parts backup, and service life.
ment available and how it might be applied. Design of stopes or
panels, mine accesses, development cross sections, ramp gra- Fleet Description
dients, electric power reticulation, ventilation circuits, and so The first step is to describe the key elements of the equip-
on must be based on an assumed type and fleet of equipment. ment fleet. For example, in a hard-rock ramp-access mine, this
might include
• Two-boom jumbo drills,
In practice, equipment selection for a new hard-rock mine
• One-boom jumbo drills,
starts with the stoping operation. Stoping equipment should be
• Rock-bolting machines,
appropriately sized for the characteristics of the ore body and
• Long-hole drills,
the stope dimensions. Stope development openings should be
• Large load-haul-dump units (LHDs),
sized to suit the stope dimensions and the stoping equipment
• Small LHDs,
capabilities and requirements.
• Haulage trucks,
Equipment should then be sized to mine the required
• Integrated tool carriers, and
size of stope development. Separate development fleets for
• Road graders.
access and stope development may be required. If this logic
is not applied, big “efficient” development equipment may be Many other machines such as personnel transporters, shot-
acquired for access development, and then used in the stoping crete machines, air compressors, raise drills, and others may
areas. The result is that the stope development is sized to fit be needed, but the items in the list will be considered in deter-
jumbo drills, rock-bolter booms, or even the haul trucks, and mining stope and development layouts and dimensions.
must be far larger than the optimum, causing inefficiencies in
stope design, poor geotechnical conditions, or excessive over- Equipment Matching
break and development cost. Individual items of equipment, considered together, form a
Of course, it is often necessary to select new equipment development system or a production system, and thus they
for an existing mine, where the constraints including access must be physically compatible. Jumbo drills must be capable
dimensions, ventilation, and so forth have to be identified and of reaching the limits of the largest excavation required, usu-
managed. In a shaft mine, for example, the machine size may ally determined for the production drills and the trucks. LHDs
be limited by the dimensions of shaft compartments and the must be able to reach and fully load the tubs (boxes or trays)
component sizes in which the machine can be broken down of the trucks in three to five passes.
for transport. Sometimes a workaround will enable incompatible units
Proposed or possible changes to the mine plan, such as to be used. For example, a “step” in the floor may enable small
a move from a 5-day working week to continuous working, LHDs to load large trucks.
or a change in the decline gradient, will affect the equipment Electric machines should all operate from the same elec-
duty and must be considered. Sometimes a new machine may tric supply voltage. A decision must be made about whether
allow a new way of working. For example, replacement of compressed air will be reticulated, and if not, each pneumatic
rear-wheel-drive trucks with four-wheel-drive trucks would machine must be self-sufficient for compressed air.

Peter L. McCarthy, Chairman and Principal Mining Consultant, AMC Consultants Pty Ltd., Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

1144 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

When items are obtained from a single manufacturer, the • Will the manufacturer offer maintenance and consum-
manufacturer will be able to determine how well matched they ables on a fixed cost per hour or per meter basis, and
are. If they come from different manufacturers, some research establish its own maintenance work force on-site?
may be needed, including detailed study of the specifications • What is the reputation of the manufacturer for service and
and discussions with staff of other mines about using the units spares backup in the region?
together. • Are components interchangeable between different pieces
of equipment such as the same axles in LHDs and trucks?
Choice of Manufacturer or Supplier • Are the driveline components from the same
Manufacturers of underground equipment range from large, manufacturer?
international firms with worldwide representation to small
After these questions have been addressed, it may be advan-
manufacturers that generally serve a local market or a spe-
tageous to source the key fleet items, such as trucks, LHDs,
cialized niche. In general, the international firms offer robust,
and jumbo drills, from a common supplier. It is also attractive
reliable, and well-proven equipment at the upper end of the
to minimize the number of different models of equipment on
price range. Equipment is usually priced in euros or U.S. dol-
the mine site, even if from the same manufacturer, to mini-
lars, which may appear prohibitive when converted to a local
mize duplication of stores inventories or maintenance skill
sets. Mixed manufacturer fleets, especially trucks, may result
Small regional manufacturers can offer attractive pric-
in unexpected operational conflicts such as different truck
ing and may offer a viable alternative to the name brands.
speeds, with slower trucks delaying faster trucks, especially
Because their level of research and development is limited,
when hauling loads up a ramp.
and because they are building to a price, machines from such
manufacturers generally have lower availability and may have
Appropriate Technology
reduced performance. These factors should be assessed care-
Any new machine should incorporate a level of technology
fully in deciding whether lower capital cost outweighs higher
that can be understood and supported by the operators and
operating costs, including the impact of servicing and break-
maintenance team. Although it may be appealing to engineers
down delays on the mining system as a whole.
to acquire the latest technology, the potential performance
Other manufacturers offer specialist equipment that is
will not be delivered if the machine spends much of its time
not available from the major suppliers. Examples of the prod-
waiting for repairs. At the crudest level, there are mines that
ucts of international niche manufacturers include narrow-vein
operate compressed-air rock drills and do not have the work-
mining equipment from France and Canada, rock-bolting plat-
shop facilities or the skills to maintain hydraulic rock drills.
forms from Canada, backfill slinger trucks from Germany,
Similarly, many mines do not have the electronics capability
raise climbers from Sweden, and so on.
to maintain the latest fully computerized jumbo drills and pre-
Equipment with similar specifications from the major
fer to buy the versions with manual controls.
manufacturers will generally give similar performance. This
In general, the longer the supply lines to the mine and
is often compared with the choice of buying a car from Ford or
the less educated or skilled the work force, the more robust
from General Motors—both will do the job. It is worth enquir-
and less innovative should be the technology. It is also dif-
ing at other mine sites that use the same equipment, because
ficult to mix different technologies within one operation. For
specific models sometimes have problems that are not really
example, a mine developed some years ago in southern Africa
resolved during the model run, whereas competing machines
tried to combine handheld drills and slushers in the stopes
are free of those problems.
with rubber-tired jumbo and truck development and haul-
Apart from operating performance, equipment analysis
age. The two systems were not compatible: large numbers of
should include the ease of maintenance. Some equipment
walking stope miners impeded the movement of trucks; the
models are easier to maintain, which can have a positive
rock broken in development was too large for the conveyor
impact on the availability of the equipment.
feeders; and the maintenance workshops had to service large
The most important factor in choosing between otherwise
numbers of stope drills and scraper winches, with which they
similar machines is the level of backup support provided in a
were familiar, and smaller numbers of hydraulic jumbos and
region by the manufacturer. Appropriate questions include the
diesel trucks, which were new to them. The mine failed for
these and unrelated reasons.
• What training will the manufacturer offer to operators Mine systems should be designed to accommodate the
and maintenance personnel? technology to be used. For example, if a conventional mine
• Does the manufacturer have service facilities with trained is to be mechanized, not only must the required infrastructure
personnel within an hour or two of the mine by road? If be provided, but materials-handling logistics need to be thor-
not, is it willing to establish such facilities on the basis oughly planned and assessed. For example, this could include
of an order? transportation and storage underground of diesel, spare parts,
• Will the manufacturer stock a comprehensive range of and hydraulic oils.
spare parts in-country for any specific model? What is the
likely delivery time? Innovative Models
• Will the manufacturer provide spare parts in the mine Innovative new models of machines, even from the most
store on a consignment basis, so that payment is made reputable manufacturers, may present operational problems.
only when they are used? It often takes 2 or 3 years of operation to resolve design prob-
• Which major components are not stocked in-country? lems in trucks, loaders, and jumbo drills, with trucks giving
How long would it take to obtain them, if needed, and the greatest problems. Usually the machine gets a bad name
what would be the cost of urgent air freight? in the industry and a revised model with a new code name is
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1145

released after the problems are resolved. The problems are not through two or more duties. For example, haul trucks may be
predictable and could be as simple as shearing of wheel studs converted to water trucks, or production LHDs become devel-
on a high-powered truck. opment LHDs, where they are used more intermittently.
The promised performance of a new model may be A particular problem arises in shaft-access underground
appealing, and some mine has to be the first to try it. When mines. The difficulty involved in dismantling and reassem-
considering such a machine, it is usually possible to negotiate bling large mobile units for shaft transfer leads to inflexibility
a performance guarantee with the supplier. This should take in maintenance, and major overhaul periods may be extended.
the form of an operating availability guarantee, possibly with Operators tend to retain old equipment as backup units long
a minimum performance expressed as metric ton–kilometers after they have reached the end of their economic life. This
per hour, meters drilled per hour, or similar. Financial com- creates an environment of low usage and excessive mainte-
pensation applies if the machine does not deliver the guaran- nance costs. For example, one Australian shaft mine was able
teed performance. to reduce its mobile equipment fleet from 50 to 11 units after
It is usual for the manufacturer and supply agent to be establishing a service decline from the surface.
very interested in the success of a new product, and they Service life and maintenance costs also depend on a com-
may provide high standards of operator training and assume pany’s maintenance policy and the level of onboard monitor-
responsibility for maintenance for an extended period. The ing installed.
duration of these above-normal levels of service should be
ascertained. Making Financial Comparisons
Examples of new equipment that have proved disappoint- The benefit of investment in a new machine should be quanti-
ing in the past include fied in advance, and in most companies this is a requirement
of the capital approval process. The economic benefit is best
• Some high-powered 50–80 t (metric ton) capacity trucks;
measured by comparing the net present values (NPVs, or usu-
• Some combined drilling and cable-bolting machines;
ally net present costs) of the alternatives. If the expected ser-
• Some rock-bolting jumbos;
vice lives of the alternatives are different, the analysis becomes
• Many models of scaling machines;
complicated. For example, two machines with service lives of
• Undersized impact breakers; and
5 and 7 years would need to be compared (artificially) over a
• Novel surface or soft-rock crushers and sizers, when
period of 35 years to get a meaningful comparison, or an accu-
applied underground in hard-rock mines.
rate estimate be made of the residual value of the longer-life
machine after 5 years. To overcome this problem, costs should
Equipment Replacement
be annualized using an approach known as the annual average
All equipment has a service life, after which it becomes
cost or the equivalent annual value method.
uneconomical and should be replaced. For some items the ser-
Equipment replacement decisions are not exclusive to
vice life may be equal to or exceed the mine life, in which case
mining, but apply throughout all business activities. Detailed
replacement is not necessary. Generally, major items such as
discussions of the methods can readily be found in textbooks
headframes, winders (hoists), crushers, ball mills, and so on
on engineering economics and on the Internet, and suitable
are designed to last the life of the mine and, in practice, may
financial modeling software can be downloaded and pur-
outlast several mines. Worldwide, a number of operations are
chased for a small sum.
still getting satisfactory performance from crushers and wind-
Many mining companies require that the internal rate of
ers that were built in the 1930s.
return for the investment exceed a hurdle rate, a minimum
Most portable and mobile equipment has a finite service
acceptable rate of return that is set from time to time by the
life. Typically, new mobile equipment will operate at low
administration and is based on the company’s cost of capital
maintenance costs for approximately 10,000 hours or 2 years,
or desired rate of return on all of its investments. Although this
after which the cost increases steadily. If the use of the machine
may simplify decision making, it often leads to suboptimal
is lower than around 5,000 h/yr, this “honeymoon period” may
decisions because it prohibits many investments that add some
be extended. This cycle may be repeated following one or two
value to an operation, and, in particular, it ignores the many
major rebuilds, although the subsequent maintenance costs are
benefits that cannot be quantified in a simple financial analy-
rarely as low as for a new machine.
sis. Companies may also limit the timing of capital approvals
If the working environment changes, a machine may
within the annual budget cycle and take a dim view of “out of
be deemed obsolescent and need to be replaced. Examples
budget” applications.
include a change to the stoping method, requiring a larger
Nonfinancial measures of performance may be important.
machine, or a change in the ventilation standards that requires
For example, improvements in workplace safety or environ-
a cleaner engine. If there is a substantial improvement in the
mental quality may not be economically measurable but may
available technology, a machine may be replaced, even though
be highly desirable. Provision of a new machine with an air-
it is still delivering to its original specification. For example,
conditioned cab may improve industrial relations even if the
new rear-dump haul trucks with much-improved power-to-
machine specifications suggest there will be no increase in
weight ratios may displace older, slower units.
A decision to replace an existing machine must consider
At many mines, particularly at remote sites, there is a
the entire physical and financial environment. For example, in
large benefit in reducing labor numbers. Increased mechaniza-
a struggling mining company, capital may simply be unavail-
tion will aid this, and can become a matter of policy even if it
able no matter how well a replacement can be justified. In
is difficult to quantify the gains from a particular decision on
such circumstances, the equipment life can be extended
an NPV basis. Labor costs are typically >50% of total costs,
almost indefinitely but with a much-increased operating cost.
but when the cost of extras such as airfares and site accom-
To extend useful life, many operations cycle their equipment
modation are included, they may be higher yet.
1146 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Conversely, the social–political climate in some areas Leasing and Contracting

may dictate that reduction in labor by introduction of more Besides outright purchase, other forms of equipment finance
productive machines is politically undesirable. An example is are available:
the large amount of hand labor on ramp roadway maintenance
• An operating lease is similar to rental, is usually for short-
seen in many Mexican mines when a grader would be more
term requirements, and can be cancelled without penalty.
It is relatively expensive, because the lessor assumes the
risk of re-leasing and technological obsolescence, but
Information Required for Financial Analysis
is fully deductible as an operating expense. It does not
The capital cost of a new machine should be estimated includ-
affect the lessee’s balance sheet.
ing the cost of spares, which can be 20% of the purchase
• A finance lease is a contract, whereby payments are made
price for a mobile unit. This will depend on whether spares
over much of the useful life of the asset. During this time
are available on consignment; that is, they can be held in the
the lease cannot be cancelled, although it may be paid out
store and paid for when used. Estimators should use the final
if the item is disposed of or destroyed. The cost includes
or likely negotiated price rather than the manufacturer’s list
capital (less salvage) cost, interest, a risk premium, and
price, which is usually somewhat higher.
the commercial cost of providing the service. Typically
If an item is sourced overseas, estimators should check
60%–70% of the purchase price is financed, with the bal-
what currency will be used for the transaction and what pro-
ance payable as a residual. The item appears on the les-
tection (if any) is available against exchange rate variations.
see’s balance sheet.
Any payable import duties and the transport and unloading
costs including in-country transport to the mine should be As an alternative to leasing, a contractor (and contractor’s
checked. For a shaft mine, the transport cost will include shaft equipment) could be used. Applications include, for example,
transfer and reassembly, which can be substantial for bigger truck haulage, production drilling, surface crushing, and the
items. entire mine development or production program. Contracting
Operating costs can be estimated from is often appropriate where a small additional increment of
capacity is required for 1 or 2 years. It also makes sense where
• Detailed cost records and performance of similar
specialist skills such as cable bolting are required for a limited
time, or where the necessary expertise is not available in the
• Cost records for the new item from another operation,
vicinity of the mine and there is insufficient time to train a
• Manufacturer’s cost and performance estimates, and
work force.
• A database of costs from a range of operations.
To support ongoing decision making, good record keep- Estimating the Average Annual Cost
ing and cost allocation are required over the life of each unit. The average annual cost is the sum of depreciation, interest,
The mine accounting system must be able to track each piece and operating cost. Consider a truck that has an initial cost of
of major equipment and not report a combined cost for all $1.0 million and a salvage value of $0.2 million after an esti-
LHDs, trucks, jumbos, and so on. Records should include mated 4-year service life. The depreciation is thus $0.8 mil-
engine hours and, for rock-drilling equipment, percussion or lion over 4 years or $0.2 million/yr.
hydraulic pump hours, as well as outputs such as metric tons The interest expense arises, because owning an asset ties
loaded, metric ton–kilometers hauled, or meters drilled. up capital. This is true whether all or part of the purchase price
Caution must be used when comparing costs from dif- is borrowed or existing cash is used. In the latter case, there
ferent operations, where different operating conditions may is an opportunity cost because that money could have been
apply and the basis of reported costs may not be well under- invested elsewhere. The average investment is
stood. Engineers should be particularly wary of manufactur-
er’s estimates, as they are inevitably optimistic. This is an area ($1.0 million + $0.2 million)/2 = $0.6 million
where consultants can be very helpful, as a good consultant
should have an extensive cost and performance database. If the company has a cost of capital (or cost of borrowing) of
The salvage value may sometimes be important. For 10%/yr, the annual interest expense is 0.1 # $0.6 million or
mobile equipment it will depend on the age of the unit, its $60,000 for each of the four years.
condition, and the operating hours since a major rebuild. The annual operating cost may be calculated from the
A rebuilt 10,000-hour underground mobile item could be estimated hourly operating cost of $200/h (which includes
worth 60%–70% of new cost. The rebuild itself might cost operator, fuel, tires, maintenance, etc., and the cost of a major
20%–30% of the original purchase price. An older unit will rebuild at 12,000 hours) and the expected use of 5,500 h/yr,
generally be saleable for about 20% of new cost, if it is oper- which is a total of $1.1 million/yr. From this, the average
able. Machinery merchants are generally willing to provide annual cost is
an estimate of value for a used item, and for common items
may not require an inspection. $0.2 million + $0.06 million + $1.1 million
The cost of removing the old item from the mine, par- = $1.36 million
ticularly if it is a shaft mine, may negate the salvage value,
in which case the unit should be pushed into a stope and A similar calculation can be made for each of the trucks
backfilled. under consideration. The equipment selection decision can
Taxation effects and the method of financing the new item then be based on these results, together with all of the other
may affect the analysis. important considerations outlined in this chapter.
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1147

Courtesy of Atlas Copco.

Figure 12.2-1  Articulated rear-dump truck

A more accurate calculation can be made, if required, item of ancillary equipment. In all cases the considerations
to include consideration of tax effects. The capital tax fac- discussed in the previous sections should be addressed.
tor (CTF) is used to adjust capital costs for tax effects. It is
determined by Selecting a Truck
Trucks used underground fall into three categories: rigid-body
CTF = 1 – (td / (i + d)) rear-dump trucks adapted from surface mining units; articu-
lated rear-dump trucks that may be adapted from surface min-
where ing units but usually are purpose designed to have a low profile
t = corporate tax rate (Figure 12.2-1); and tractor–trailer units, some with separately
d =annual depreciation rate allowable by the taxation powered trailers, usually side-dumping, which can be assem-
authority (average) bled as an underground road train (Figure  12.2‑2). All have
i = cost of capital or interest rate diesel engines except for trolley-electric trucks, which require
special infrastructure.
For example, if t = 30%, d = 20%, and i = 10%, then Where trucks are required to travel through development
openings, the truck cross section will fix the dimensions of the
CTF = 1 – (0.3 # .20 )/ (.10 + .20) = 0.8 opening, or vice versa. Allowance must be made for clearance
from the load to any pipes, ventilation duct, or other services;
The CTF is applied to capital costs and salvage values, and clearance to side walls, which may be a statutory require-
whereas interest and operating costs are adjusted using (1 – t) ment. A typical design profile is shown in Figure 12.2-3.
to get the after-tax cost. In the example, The clearance to ventilation ducts is influenced by the
annual depreciation = $0.2 million # 0.8
= $0.16 million • The shape of the tunnel profile, whether flat, arched, or
shanty-backed, which is determined from the geology
annual interest cost = $0.06 million # 0.7
and ground-support requirements.
= $0.042 million
• The duct diameter, which depends on the airflow required.
annual operating cost = $1.1 million # 0.7 Sometimes oval-shaped ducts are used to improve clear-
= $0.77 million ances but at the cost of greater resistance and fan power
Hence, the average annual cost (after tax) is $0.972 million. • The type of duct, whether rigid or flexible. Flexible ducts
Of course, all the trucks must be evaluated in the same may be more mobile and require greater clearances.
way, either before or after tax, and experience shows that the • The size, number, and position of ducts within the cross
rankings rarely change. Although more-accurate spreadsheet- section. The position could be in the crown or in one cor-
based evaluations are possible, taking into account the time ner of the profile. In wider headings, vent ducts could also
value of money, the average annual cost is only one of the be along a sidewall.
considerations in selecting the most-appropriate equipment. • The size and number of ducts depends on the planned dis-
tance of forced ventilation (before connecting to a return
HARD-ROCK EQUIPMENT SELECTION airway) and the ventilation volume required to service
The key items of mobile equipment are loaders, trucks, the heading. A forced ventilation heading may typically
jumbo drills, and production drills, each requiring a different require one loader and one truck. The ventilation volume
approach to selection. Specific selection criteria apply to each is usually a relationship based on a factor relative to the
1148 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Courtesy of Powertrans Pty Ltd.

Figure 12.2-2  Underground road train

in the event of a breakdown or tire failure. It is not acceptable

for trucks to pass pedestrians.
Trucks require a minimum turning radius, which generally
will not be <20 m due to truck requirements (capability and

maintenance) and development issues on grade (overbreak on


development rounds). Widening of the heading and/or flatten-

ing the gradient may be necessary on bends to maintain required

clearances or reduce longitudinal torsion of the truck frame.

Road trains require additional attention to radius and wall


clearances due to the variable tracking path of the powered

trailers. Development loops are also required for the road

trains as they are not designed for reversing, and tipping is

usually sideways.
The operating cost per metric ton–kilometer decreases

as the truck capacity increases. Thus, there is an incentive

to maximize truck capacity, with diesel trucks of up to 60-t
capacity being available for underground applications. A
trade-off study is required to assess the benefit of the low truck
Drain operating cost against the disadvantages that come with size.
Road Base 300 Factors to be considered include the following:
900 3,200 900
• The volume of waste rock broken increases with the
5,000 cross-sectional area of the heading. For example, a 5.5 #
Note: Dimensions are in millimeters. 5.5 m drive will produce 53% more waste rock than a 4.5
# 4.0  m drive. If the cost of development breaking and
disposal is $130/m3 and 10 km of primary development
Figure 12.2-3  Typical mine development profile for haul truck is planned, the cost difference of more than $1.2 million
must be recovered from a reduced trucking cost for all of
engine power. Duct diameter is then related to required the ore and waste rock from the mine.
ventilation volume and duct resistance. Duct diameter • Ground-support costs generally increase with the square
may become quite large (>1.2-m diameter) for significant of span.
forced ventilation lengths, which may require duplication • Larger, more powerful trucks require more ventilation per
or a mix of types (forced and push–pull systems). truck but not per ton moved.
• The expected load profile in the truck. Sometimes trucks
A larger mine opening with larger trucks will have a greater
are not fully loaded during the development phase, but
total production capacity in metric tons per day or per year.
can be fully loaded after the development is completed,
Equipment manufacturers provide comprehensive manu-
when a ventilation circuit is established and the ventila-
als of specifications of their products, and many provide
tion ducts have been removed.
detailed approaches to equipment selection. The key consider-
• The initial thickness of road base material and any sub-
ations for an underground truck are
sequent buildup of road base dressing material that is not
removed by grading, and allowance for road spillage that • Physical dimensions and load capacity;
a truck may accidentally ride over. • Exhaust gas and exhaust particulate quality;
• The layout of turnouts from the main drive and the way • Safety features including falling object protection system
ventilation ducts make the transition through corners. and rollover protection system, and whether these comply
with local standards;
Sidewall clearance is required to minimize impact damage
• Air conditioned, enclosed cabin;
and for safety reasons. There must be room for pedestrians to
• Ergonomic cabin and seat;
walk past a stationary truck and for recovery work to be done
• Power-to-weight ratio, and hence speed on grade;
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1149

• Engine braking capability or hydraulic retarder; must pass every other truck on its loaded haul out of the mine.
• Whether fitted with spring activated, hydraulic release If, as is typical (but not necessarily efficient) practice, empty
fail-safe brakes; trucks wait in passing bays for full trucks to pass them in the
• Whether the torque converter locks up to provide better opposite direction, the cycle time could be increased by the
power transfer and longer transmission life; time it takes for a full truck to travel half the average distance
• Centralized lubrication; and between passing bays multiplied by the number of trucks
• Centralized fire protection system. operating, less one.
After the cycle time has been determined for a particular
The truck load can be calculated from the truck body volume,
haulage route, the tonnage to be moved, the effective time per
the broken density of the rock to be carried, and a fill fac-
shift, and the truck availability must be considered to deter-
tor that typically varies from 85% to 95%. The stated tonnage
mine how many trucks are required. It is almost always the
capacity of the truck is typically quoted as “SAE heaped”
case in underground mining that the best outcome is achieved
(where SAE refers to the Society of Automotive Engineers),
by having an excess of loading capacity, so that truck use is
which has the top surface of the load rising one length unit
maximized. In other words, it is better to have loaders wait-
vertically for every two length units horizontally from the top
ing for trucks than have the trucks waiting for loaders. Often
edge of all sides of the tray. This is rarely achieved in prac-
the loaders can spend the time between truck arrivals moving
tice, particularly for up-ramp haulage. It is not unusual to find
the muck up to a temporary stockpile at the loading point to
that a 50-t-capacity truck achieves an average payload of 43 t,
minimize the loading time and turn the truck around quickly.
particularly if there is any problem with back clearance on the
If there is in fact little or no queuing of trucks at loaders,
haul route. Capacity is maximized by using a well-matched
the cycle time could theoretically be reduced by having slow
loader and with the use of an onboard weightometer.
full trucks wait for faster empty trucks to pass, rather than the
The manufacturer’s tables will provide torque-speed
more typical rule noted previously. If this were done, the aver-
curves, speed-on-grade curves, and other information to allow
age delay time in passing bays would be reduced. However,
cycle times to be estimated. In general, it is sufficient to deter-
there are other practical operating reasons for why this would
mine the cycle as the sum of
not usually be done.
• Loading time (including any wait for loader), which will In the example, assume a continuous 24-hour operation
depend on the loader capacity and the distance from the with two 12-hour shifts per day. Realistic allowances might
muck pile to the loading point; include
• Travel time (at an average speed on grade) from the load-
ing point to the dump point, usually including level and Fuel up, safety meeting, and travel to job 1 h/shift
uphill segments; Meal breaks 1 h/shift
• Dump time (including any delay waiting for other trucks
Job inspections 0.5 h/shift
to dump); and
Planned maintenance (8 h/week) 0.6 h/shift
• Travel time (at an average speed on grade) back to the
loading point. Breakdowns/unplanned maintenance 0.5 h/shift
Job or efficiency factor 90%
The average speed, when loaded, will depend on the condition Effective hours per shift (8.4 h × 0.9) 7.56
of the roadway, including the presence of spillage or water, the
Effective hours per year (7.56 h × 730 shifts) 5,500
clearance to the tunnel walls, the road gradient, the number
Annual truck production (5,500 h × 43.7 t) 240,350 t
of curves or bends, and any mine-imposed or statutory speed
limit. The empty travel speed, if downhill, may be limited
for safety reasons to less than the general mine speed limit.
If the target production is 1.5 million t/yr of material
Similarly, there may be load or gradient limits for loaded
brought to surface, then the number of trucks required would be
travel downhill.
A typical cycle time calculation for a 50-t-capacity truck
1,500,000/240,350 = 6.2 = 7 trucks
in an efficient decline-access mine might appear as follows:
Traffic congestion occurs when the number of trucks
Loading 2.5 minutes required is high relative to the length of haul, so efforts should
Travel loaded 3.5 km at 7 km/h = 30.0 minutes be made to provide effectives traffic management through the
Dumping 1.0 minutes use of radio communications, block lights, and well-spaced,
Travel unloaded 3.5 km at 9 km/h = 23.3 minutes efficient passing bays. The problem is exacerbated for mixed-
Total cycle time 56.8 minutes fleet systems (different capacity, different loaded speeds).
Efficiency factor 90% The difference between the efficiency factor introduced
Cycle time 63.1 minutes
within the cycle time calculation and the job or efficiency fac-
tor discussed here is that the former increases the operating
engine hours required and, hence, the annual operating cost,
whereas the latter reduces the operating engine hours avail-
Thus, if the truck can be loaded to an average 46-t pay-
able. A useful check is to see that the annual hours required
load, the productivity will be 43.7 t per effective operating
from the truck are consistent with experience at similar sites.
hour. If traffic congestion is expected to interfere with the
There can be a large difference in annual operating hours for
trucking cycle, then a further congestion factor may be intro-
underground haulage trucks ranging from around 2,000 hours
duced to increase the estimated cycle time. One simple way to
up to 5,600 hours depending on the management strategy and
estimate this factor is to assume that a truck returning empty
mine layout.
1150 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

300 300

250 250

Trucking Rate, t-km/h

Trucking Rate, t-km/h

200 200

150 150

100 100

50 50

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 25 30 35 40 45 50 55
Average Haul, km Average Truck Capacity, t

Figure 12.2-4  Truck productivity as a function of haul Figure 12.2-5  Truck productivity as a function of truck
distance capacity

Because haulage routes vary, it is often useful to com- Selecting a Load-Haul-Dump Machine
pare truck performance on a metric ton–kilometer basis. LHDs are known variously as loaders, muckers, or boggers
This assumes that hauling 1 t for 10 km requires about the and differ from front-end loaders in that they have a lower
same truck capacity as hauling 10 t for 1 km. In the previ- profile and are designed to carry a load in the bucket effi-
ous example, a 50-t truck hauled 43.7 t/h over a distance of ciently for up to 200 m between the muck pile and the truck or
3.5 km, an output of 153 t-km/h. Actual truck performance, as orepass that they are loading into. Thus, an LHD spends more
recorded from 32 operating mines, is shown in Figures 12.2-4 time traveling than does a front-end loader, and is engineered
and 12.2-5. accordingly.
The metric ton–kilometer approach should be used cau- A mine may use different-sized LHDs for stoping and for
tiously, because it ignores roadway gradient, which can vary development. Often two or more sizes of LHD are used for
substantially. Whereas some costs, such as tires, vary with stoping, to suit the ore-body width and mining method at dif-
load and distance traveled, others, such as fuel, are more ferent locations within the mine.
closely correlated with engine hours and engine power setting. Standard models are available in bucket capacities rang-
When calculating the number of trucks required, allow- ing from around 3 to 11.6 m3. Special machines designed for
ance must be made for the haulage and disposal of waste rock narrow-vein mining can be as small as 0.5 m3. Corresponding
from development. Often this rock will be backfilled into payloads range from 1 to 25 t. Extremely low-profile machines
stopes, requiring a shorter cycle time than a haul to the sur- are also available for working in flat-dipping narrow-vein ore
face. However, backfilling often causes delays while waiting bodies with as little as 1.6 m of headroom.
for a loader or bulldozer to clear the dump point, so that the LHDs may be diesel or electric powered. The diesel units
advantage may not be great. Where trucks must dump fill rock are versatile and can tram quickly from one location to another
into stopes under a limited back height, ejector-tray trucks (Figure 12.2-6). The electric units (Figure 12.2-7) carry a cable
may be used. These have an ejector blade, something like a drum and rely on a trailing electric cable, so they are tethered
bulldozer blade, which pushes the load from the truck body to a location during normal production. Electric LHDs have
without having to elevate it into the tipping position. low noise levels and zero emissions, so they require less ven-
Ejector-tray trucks have a reduced payload compared to tilation. They are highly productive in situations such as block
the equivalent standard model, and because of the increased caving, where ore is transported from a series of drawpoints to
weight in the truck body, they are less fuel efficient. They also a fixed orepass location.
have more moving parts to maintain and can suffer damage if The ergonomic and safety considerations for selecting
large rocks wedge between the sidewall and the ejector. an LHD are similar to those for trucks, as listed previously.
Trolley-wire electric trucks have been available for many In the past, some operators sustained back injuries due to
years but have limited application because poor operator location and poor seating. The best operating
position is midway between the front and rear wheels, and
• The system has a high capital cost when the trolley-wire
particular attention should be paid to the quality of the seat
installation is considered;
• Although there is no diesel exhaust, they require substan-
LHDs often operate in situations with limited forced
tial ventilation for cooling;
ventilation, so an enclosed, air-conditioned cab is desirable,
• If the mine generates its own power from diesel on the
and the engine should be the latest-generation, low-emission
surface, there is no operating cost saving;
type. Fail-safe brakes are highly desirable. LHDs can operate
• A very high standard of road maintenance is required; and
effectively in headings as steep as 20% (1 in 5), although they
• Without auxiliary power, trucks cannot travel beyond the
perform best if the gradient is limited to around 14% (1 in 7)
fixed trolley wire into actively developing areas.
or less.
Despite these limitations, trolley-wire trucks may offer advan- The size of a selected LHD must fit within the planned
tages for a mine using low-tariff grid power with a fixed load- development and stope openings, and the bucket must be able
ing point, such as the bottom of an orepass system. to reach above and fill a truck efficiently.
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1151

trucks from the stockpile. It may be necessary to consider the

LHD performance to estimate times for the two loading cycles
within the overall development cycle.
The average speed, when loaded, will depend on the con-
dition of the roadway, including the presence of spillage or
water, the clearance to the tunnel walls, the road gradient, and
the geometry of the tramming route. A typical cycle time cal-
culation for an 8-m3 LHD that is loading trucks might appear
as follows:
Courtesy of Atlas Copco.
Figure 12.2-6  Diesel load-haul-dump unit Loading 30 seconds
Tramming loaded 200 m at 7 km/h = 103 seconds
Dump into truck 30 seconds
Travel unloaded 200 m at 7 km/h = 103 seconds
Delays, waiting 60 seconds
Total cycle time 5.4 minutes
Efficiency factor 90%
Cycle time 6.0 minutes
Cycles per hour 10
Courtesy of Atlas Copco.
Metric tons per hour 155 (using 15.5 t/bucket
Figure 12.2-7  Electric unit showing cable drum from previous calculation)

The bucket load can be calculated from the bucket vol-

As in the truck example, the effective hours must be
ume, the broken density of the rock to be carried, and a fill fac-
determined. For a continuous 24-hour operation with two
tor, which depends on the fragmentation of the rock and may
12-hour shifts per day, realistic allowances might include the
be different for development rock and for broken ore in stope
drawpoints. As with trucks, the nominal capacity quoted is
typically for SAE-heaped loading, which is also typically dif-
ficult to achieve in practice. However, a high fill factor can be Fuel up, safety meeting, and travel to job 1 h/shift
achieved with well-blasted rock. For example, an 8-m3 bucket Meal breaks 1 h/shift
with a 90% fill factor and broken ore of bulk density 2.2 t/m Inspect job, wash down, bar down 0.5 h/shift
would carry 15.5 t. Planned maintenance (8 h/week) 0.6 h/shift
The manufacturer’s tables will provide speed on grade Breakdowns/unplanned maintenance 1.0 h/shift
and other information to allow cycle times to be estimated. Job or efficiency factor 80%
Some manufacturers provide estimates of productivity in met- Effective hours per shift (7.9 h × 0.8) 6.32
ric tons per hour for various haulage distances.
Effective hours per year (6.32 h × 730 shifts) 4,614
In general, it is sufficient to determine the LHD cycle as
Annual LHD production (4,614 h × 155 t) 715,170 t
the sum of the following:
• Loading time, which depends on the power of the LHD,
the muck pile condition, the floor condition, and fragmen- If the target production is 1.5 million t/yr of ore, the num-
tation of the broken rock. The presence of large rocks, ber of production LHDs required would be
which require individual attention, can slow the loading
cycle considerably. 1,500,000 / 715,170 = 2.1 = 3 production LHDs
• Travel time (at an average speed on grade) from the load-
ing point to the dump point. The number of production LHDs required could be higher if
• Dump time (including any delay waiting for trucks),
• LHDs are locked into production areas, or the tramming
which is usually faster when tipping into a pass because
distance between production areas is excessive;
no attention to the shape of the load is required. However,
• More redundancy is required to ensure that production
depending on the fragmentation of the rock and the size
targets are met in the event of a major breakdown;
of the pass, grizzlies or other methods of size restriction
• There are periods of time in the stoping cycle when there
to limit the size of rocks in the pass may constrain the tip-
are insufficient active drawpoints to use the available
ping rate into a pass.
loaders; and
• Travel time (at an average speed on grade) back to the
• LHDs are operated on remote control for stope cleanup,
loading point.
which reduces productivity.
A more complex cycle may apply. For example, it is usual
to cut stockpile (remuck) bays every 120–250 m along a devel- A separate calculation is required to determine the number of
opment heading. After blasting, the LHD quickly moves the development LHDs required.
muck from the round into the stockpile bay to allow ground Some LHD models are available with ejector buckets for
support and drilling to proceed, after which the LHD loads discharging under limited headroom, which can reduce the
1152 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

need for back stripping at loading points, and can be useful for
tight backfilling.

Remote Control and Automation of LHDs and Trucks

Remote control of loading units is desirable where condi-
tions at the face or in the stope are hazardous, or where the
ground overhead has not been secured. Radio remote control
of LHDs has been available for many years, having evolved
from cable-remote control of compressed-air-powered loading
units. Line-of-sight remote control has proven to be hazardous
and has fallen out of favor. Despite training and strict operat-
ing rules, operators tend to move into the path of the loading
unit and hence are exposed to injury.
Teleremote control, using television cameras mounted
on the LHD, allows the operator to be seated in a safe, air- Figure 12.2-8  Two-boom jumbo
conditioned environment underground or even to operate
the machine from the surface. Current developments include
employing the operator in a city office, remote from the mine, For autonomous operations, the mine must be designed
thus making the job more attractive while greatly reducing on- to accommodate the level of technology. Where automation
site costs. has been adapted to an existing mine layout, the results have
The productivity per hour of an LHD is typically less generally been unsatisfactory. Design of operations needs to
under teleremote control than with an operator on board, include interaction between activities; dealing with spillage,
because the teleremote operator does not have the full range drainage, and road maintenance; blast damage; planned and
of audible, visual, and physical inputs to enable optimum unplanned maintenance activities; surveying; geological map-
performance. However, most teleremote operations currently ping and sampling; and so on.
use two-dimensional video screens for providing visual infor- Autonomous haulage trucks are also available but are
mation to operators. Such things as three-dimensional (3-D) not yet widely used. Autonomous trucks must operate on a
visual presentation and virtual-reality helmets, available in dedicated haulage route that is locked off from other traffic
other industries, have been trialed in mining operations but and from pedestrian traffic, which can rarely be arranged in
have not come into widespread use. It is conceivable that in existing mine layouts. In most cases, duplicate development
the future, provision of real-time 3-D virtual-reality visual of a dedicated haulage roadway would be required and may
and audio information to remote operators may reduce the not be justified.
difference in productivity between remote control and direct
operation. Also, teleremote operation offers the possibility Selecting a Jumbo Drill
of operating for a greater part of the working shift because A modern jumbo drill has an articulated diesel-powered carrier
delays such as travel time do not apply and because opera- and an electrically powered hydraulic pump, which operates
tors can be rotated in a surface office to keep the machines at the boom rams and hydraulic rock drill(s) when the machine
maximum use. is in drilling mode. The jumbo may have one, two, or three
The major manufacturers now offer autonomous LHDs booms, depending on the size of openings.
that can operate with minimal or no human intervention. These The diesel engine enables the jumbo to tram between
machines have sophisticated onboard computers and typically working places. It is rare for the diesel engine to provide
use lasers to scan their environment and determine position. hydraulic power for drilling because it is inefficient, and
Such a machine can load, tram, and dump autonomously so because there is usually insufficient ventilation to operate
that a human supervisor can manage two or more LHDs. the engine at the face. Some models have a “fast tramming”
The loading part of the cycle requires the muck pile to be option that is useful in a large mine where the work places are
well broken. The current generation of autonomous machines far apart.
is not as effective as humans at assessing the position of large Single-boom jumbos are suited to face areas from 6 to
rocks and maneuvering the bucket to displace and lift them. The 30  m2, whereas twin booms may fit in an opening as small
LHD can be damaged if used autonomously with large rocks, as 8 m2 but can extend 100 m2 or more. Two booms are suf-
so a common compromise is to load the LHD on teleremote and ficient to cover the face area in most mines, with three-boom
then switch to autonomous for the remainder of the cycle. jumbos being more popular in civil engineering works. Where
The use of surface teleremote and autonomous LHDs a three-boom jumbo would, in theory, provide a faster drilling
requires a good broadband communications backbone to be cycle, in practice, the operator is fully busy managing two. A
installed in the mine, and a high standard of training for main- valuable application of the center boom is drilling the large
tenance personnel. For safety reasons these machines can only diameter reliever holes in the cut. Many jumbos have a third
be used in an area that has been locked off from human entry, boom with a basket. A single boom is used in small headings
so the opportunities for their use are limited. They are suited or narrow veins, where there is insufficient room to operate a
to block caving and some sublevel caving operations where two-boom machine (Figure 12.2-8).
production activities can proceed for a significant time with- The manufacturer’s data will show the capability of the
out the need for other activities around them. In many other jumbo to cover the proposed face area. The blast design will
mines, activities such as development, geological sampling, determine the hole diameter, generally in the range of 33 to
surveying, and so on interact with production loading, so that 89 mm, although larger holes can be drilled at greatly reduced
it is impractical to create a nonentry zone. penetration rates. Depending on the duty, rock drills (drifters)
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1153

with impact power in the range of 10 to 30 kW are available. Table 12.2-1  Physical development parameters
The length of round to be drilled and fired will determine Parameter Measurement
the length of the drill steel and the boom. In general, longer,
Width, m 5.0
heavier booms require a larger carrier.
Height, m 4.5
It is important that the jumbo has adequate reach to enable
back holes to be drilled parallel with the axis of the excavation. Area, m2 22.5
If an undersized machine is used to drill large profile excava- Rock density (wet), t/m3 2.8
tions by angling the back holes out (not parallel to the direction Overbreak, % 5
of advance), the result may be a sawtooth profile, excessive Metric tons per meter (including overbreak), t/m 66.2
overbreak, and unsatisfactory conditions for ground control. Drill factor, charged holes/m2 2.20
High-powered drifters may require a high-voltage sys- Number of charged holes 50
tem (1,000 V) to deliver sufficient energy to the hydraulic Number of 100-mm cut holes 4
pumps. The voltage also impacts the trailing cable diameter Hole depth, m 3.05
and, hence, trailing cable length and power extension require-
Pull, % 90
ments. This is of relevance for countries where lower-voltage
Advance per round, m 2.75
systems (~450 V) are the norm.
An important consideration is whether the jumbo will Metric tons per round, t 181.6

also be used for rock bolting and meshing, either consistently 45-mm-diameter face holes, meters drilled, m 151.0
or occasionally, and the type of rock bolts to be used. For rock 100-mm-diameter cut holes, meters drilled, m 12.20
bolting, it must be possible to turn the booms at 90° to the axis Total face meters drilled, m 163.18
of the carrier, and to drill holes into the walls and back. The Rock bolt length, m 2.4
boom length cannot exceed the available width and height. Friction bolt holes per round 5
In these situations a split-feed boom may be required, which Resin bolt holes per round 8
effectively telescopes the boom to full length as required. Rock bolt meters drilled per round, m 31.2
This adds complexity, maintenance, and weight and may lead Total small-diameter meters drilled per round, m 182.2
to inaccuracy as parts wear, so the benefit must be weighed
Face meters drilled per meter advance, m 59.4
against these considerations.
Total meters drilled per meter advance, m 70.8
A jumbo may also be used for scaling or “rattling” the
tunnel walls and back, as part of the development cycle, in lieu
of barring down or using a dedicated scaling machine. This
is never recommended by the drill manufacturers because it
can cause a lot of damage to the booms from falling rock.
Nevertheless, it is a common practice as operators have so could be kept continuously at work. Causes of delays were
learned that the convenience and safety benefits can outweigh recorded in detail on shift reports. The jumbo drills were con-
the increased maintenance. For this application, a robust and ventional units without computer alignment and were not the
well-protected boom should be selected. latest generation of high-frequency drifters.
The face advance that can be achieved from a jumbo drill After this analysis is completed, using performance
depends on the number of faces available to it. In a single- parameters for the jumbo drill under consideration, the
heading situation, such as during the development of a main required number of jumbos can be estimated. If the target is
decline from the surface, a twin-boom jumbo can typically 800 m of development per month, then, in this example, three
average 45–50 m of advance per week, including the main jumbos would be required. Of course, if sufficient faces can-
heading and stockpile bays. This means that the main face not be made available to fully use the drills, this problem is
will advance, on average, about 40 m/week. This rate can be not solved by adding more drilling capacity. Instead, the mate-
exceeded for periods of several months if in good ground, but rials handling capacity must be addressed.
most mines present a range of conditions, including zones of
poor ground or faults, which slows progress, so that over a Selecting a Rock-Bolting Machine
2-year development program the 40-m/week rate would apply. Rock bolting may be done using a handheld rock drill from the
A higher advance rate can be achieved using the latest muck pile, a work basket, or a scissor-lift platform. Purpose-
“long round” technology. For example, during the develop- built articulated, four-wheel-drive scissor lifts are available with
ment of Newcrest Mining’s Cadia East project in New South or without a bolting boom attached. Alternatively, the develop-
Wales, a record for 6.0 m # 5.5 m mine development with full ment jumbo drill can be used to install rock bolts and mesh with
ground support was set with an advance of 283 m in a single minimal exposure of the operator to the area being supported.
month (including stockpile bay development) (Willcox 2008). Purpose-designed machines are available for drilling
Long round development has limitations on curve radius and holes and installing both conventional rock bolts and cable
turnout or crosscut development, so is not generally applicable bolts. A rock-bolting machine resembles a jumbo drill and may
to underground mine development. Higher development rates use the same carrier. The working boom carries a rock drill
exceeding 400 m/month have been achieved in civil tunneling and a carousel that can handle a range of rock-bolt lengths and
works, but the Cadia East performance is a good example for typically 10 rock bolts. A separate hydraulic arm may be fitted
mine development. to maneuver and place screen mesh.
The process of estimating the performance of a two-boom A rock-bolting machine may be capable of installing
jumbo drill is set out in Tables 12.2-1 through 12.2-3, which mechanical- or friction-anchored bolts as well as cement- or
are based on actual measurements from a mine where each resin-grouted bolts. Machine selection should address the fol-
jumbo had at least five faces available to it for drilling, and lowing points:
1154 SME Mining Engineering Handbook

Table 12.2-2  Jumbo cycle time Table 12.2-3  Jumbo development performance
Component Measurement Component Measurement
Setup Roster
Tramming speed, k/h 4.0 Days per year 365
Average distance between faces, km 1.0 Days worked per week 5
Tramming time, min 15.0 Days worked per month 21.7
Setup and markup time, min 25.0 Shifts per day 3
Total setup time, min 40.0 Shift length, h 8
Setup time (=engine hours) per cut, h 0.7 Delays
Drill meters per engine hour, m/h 272.0 Shift change, h 0.8
Drilling Cycle No face available, h 0.6
Instantaneous penetration rate, 45-mm holes, m/min 1.40 No power, h 0.5
Instantaneous penetration rate, 100-mm holes, m/min 0.7 Meetings, h 0.2
Meters drilled, 45-mm holes, m 182.2 Face not scraped, h 0.2
Meters drilled, 100-mm holes, m 12.2 No ventilation, h 0.2
Drilling time, 45-mm holes, min 130.1 Pump/water problems, h 0.1
Drilling time, 100-mm holes, min 17.4 Maintenance/breakdown, h 0.1
Total drilling time, min 147.6 Total delays, h 2.7
Total drilling time, h 2.5 Productivity
Holes drilled (all types) 67 Balance of shift available, h 5.3
Boom setup time per hole drilled, s 55.0 Faces drilled out 1.82
Total boom set-up time, min 61.0 Face advance per shift, m 5.01
Total boom set-up time, h 1.0 Face meters drilled per shift, m 298
Total set-up and drill time (2 booms), h 3.5 Total meters drilled (including rock bolts) per shift 354.7
Average penetration rate per boom, m/min 0.71 Meters drilled per month, m 19,356
Jumbo drilling time, h 1.74 Face advance per working day, m 15.0
Ground Support Using Jumbo Face advance per month, m 325.6
Change centralizers, min 10.0
Rattle backs, min 15.0
Installation time per rock bolt, min 1.0 parts, so that the rock bolt can be indexed to the drilled hole.
Total rock bolt installation time, min 5.0
It is useful to enquire from other operators about their experi-
ence with maintenance on the model being considered.
Total ground-support time, min 30.0
Rock-bolting machines tend to be slower and less mobile
Total ground-support time, h 0.5
than jumbos. A check should be made to ensure that the rock-
Total jumbo time per face, h 2.9
bolting machine can travel between development faces within
Note: Calculations are given in seconds or minutes, and the results are the cycle time required.
rounded to hours. The final result of jumbo time per face in hours is the sum of
setup time plus jumbo drilling time plus ground support time.
Selecting a Production Drill
Production drills are used for drilling stope blastholes and ser-
• Can the desired type and length of rock bolt be installed? vice holes. Top hammer drills are generally available in sizes
• Can it handle screen mesh? from 5 to 127 mm in diameter, whereas in-the-hole hammer
• Will it fit into the required minimum back height? (ITH) drills range from 95 to 178 mm in diameter. The drill-
• Can it reach the required maximum back height? and-blast design will determine the optimum diameter and
• Is the cab enclosed to protect the operator from resin length of the hole. The selected drill must be able to quickly
fumes? drill the hole, at minimum cost, with acceptable deviation.
• Is a remote control option available for hazardous situations? Deviation will limit the smaller hole sizes to around 12–15 m
in length, whereas holes of around 100-mm diameter with
The rock-bolting machine size should be matched to the
tube drills can be up to 40 m long. Longer holes require larger
required heading size, which in turn depends on the purpose
diameters, favoring ITH drilling.
of the heading. It is unfortunately quite common to find that
Skid-mounted, crawler-mounted, and trolley-mounted
limited availability of rock-bolting boom lengths forces head-
rigs have generally been replaced by highly mobile diesel-
ings to be larger than they need to be for the purpose for which
powered rigs. Top-hammer rock drills are hydraulic, using
they were designed. At best, this might merely produce more
electric hydraulic power packs, whereas ITH drills use com-
development waste than necessary. At worst, it can make the
pressed air from a stand-alone or booster compressor. High-
use of the heading for its intended purpose more difficult,
pressure water-powered hammers are also available.
more costly, or more time-consuming than it would have been
For narrow-vein mining, production drills that can oper-
if correctly sized.
ate in vein widths of 3.0 m or slightly less are available. In
Rock-bolting machines are subject to impact damage
the larger sizes, fully automated operation is possible so that
from falling rock and require tight tolerances on working
a complete ring of blastholes can be drilled without human
Hard-Rock Equipment Selection and Sizing 1155

(A) (B)

Courtesy of Atlas Copco.

Figure 12.2-9  Production drill rigs

intervention. Considerations in selecting a production drill pick or lightweight impact hammer and very large scalers
include have proved less successful. Some limestone mines use a
rotary head on an excavator very effectively.
• The performance, including penetration rate, of the drifter
• Shotcrete (or Fibercrete) machines may be designed
at the desired hole diameter;
for wet or dry mix material. Mobility, boom reach, and
• Whether the desired hole inclinations can be drilled;
remote-control capability are important in underground
• Parallel hole coverage capability;
operations. The machine should have a remote-controlled
• Feed pivoting system (rigid with sliders—more accurate
boom nozzle to remove the operator from the unsup-
holes or totally variable—highly variable hole alignment);
ported area.
• Whether reticulated compressed air or an onboard com-
• Explosives charge-up machines may be used for car-
pressor will be used;
tridge, emulsion, or ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, and
• Whether centralized lubrication is fitted;
the charging process may be manual or mechanized. As
• Whether automated rod handling is available;
with jumbo drills and rock-bolting machines, the charge-
• Whether carousel capacity is adequate for planned hole
up machine must be sufficiently mobile to service the
faces required within the development and production
• Whether remote control is available (umbilical cord sys-
cycle. The reach and load capacity of the basket and the
tem for misfire drilling management);
explosives carrying capacity must be suited to the pro-
• What onboard surveying system is used for hole
posed duty.
• Road maintenance equipment, such as graders (with or
• Whether cab is closed and air conditioned;
without rippers), bobcats, water trucks, and rollers need
• The level of automation required (for increased use);
to be fully assessed for the suitability of the road surface
• Operator visibility of hole collar and lighting conditions;
medium and dimensions of the underground workings.
• A wide range of four-wheel-drive vehicles are suitable
• The ability to collar the hole close to the wall, particularly
for underground mining, although many of the lower-cost
in narrow-vein applications.
models may not stand the rough conditions of a typical
Drill string selection (rods, in-hole stabilizers, tubes) and mine and may have a very high maintenance cost. It is
feed stabilization (front- and/or rear-feed stingers) are also a good strategy to buy the best rugged model available
important considerations for managing drill-hole deviation. secondhand, with around 100,000 highway-kilometers.
Figure  12.2-9 shows production drilling rigs with In corrosive or rough mine environments, the best vehicle
hydraulic top-hammer rock drills. Both are designed for life may be around 2 years. Estimators should not under-
long-hole ring and parallel hole drilling upward or down- estimate the cost of fitting a vehicle for underground
ward. In Figure  12.2-9A the drill unit faces the canopy and operation, which might include crash bars, engine isola-
is suitable for holes in the range of 89 to 127 mm. The drill tor, and removal of unwanted interior fittings.
in Figure 12.2‑9B is boom mounted for maximum reach and • Handheld (airleg or jackleg) drills, rope scrapers (slush-
flexibility in both production drilling and bolt-hole drilling ers), and rail equipment may still be used in some cir-
and is suitable for holes in the range of 51 to 89 mm. cumstances, although their use is rapidly diminishing.
Proper selection of rail equipment, in particular, requires
Other Underground Equipment careful consideration based on cycle times, gradients, and
The considerations outlined in the opening sections of this locomotive capability. It is best to consult old textbooks
chapter apply to a wide range of underground equipment. including earlier versions of this handbook to gain an
Specific considerations include the following: appreciation of the selection process.
• Integrated tool carriers are based on wheel loaders for
greater load-carrying capacity, versatility, and stability
Willcox, P. 2008. Rapid tunnelling technologies at Cadia
than conventional forklifts. Operator visibility and auto-
East. In Proceedings of the Tenth AusIMM Underground
mated quick coupling are important features.
Operators’ Conference. Melbourne: Australasian Institute
• Robust scalers are becoming more effective in headings
of Mining and Metallurgy.
between 4 and 6 m high. Backhoes fitted with a scaling