It takes considerable effort to mine minerals that are buried beneath the surface. A large amount of waste needs to be removed in order to uncover the mineral. Surface mining becomes an impractical approach. Hence underground techniques are the most suitable option to consider.
The costs of underground mining, for each ton of material mined, are much higher underground than on the surface. The reasons for this is that the size of underground mining equipment is much smaller than in the open pit and access is much more limited. This is due mainly to ground conditions, mineral body geometry, and other technical factors.
Circumventing these mostly natural conditions, require special skills, equipment and state of the art technology. Hence, the costly nature of underground mining.
What is underground mining?
Underground mining “refers to various underground mining techniques used to excavate hard minerals, usually those containing metals such as ore containing gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, tin and lead, but also involves using the same techniques for excavating ores of gems such as diamonds or rubies.”
How underground mining works
Underground mining involves the use of extensive ventilation and water-drainage systems, high-tech communication networks and increasingly computerised machines to coordinate a variety of operations. As a result of this, the number of humans required underground may be limited.
Common features of all underground mining operations include the following:
Ventilation shafts to clear toxic fumes from drilling and blasting;
Escape routes; access shafts to lower workers and equipment;
Ore-transport tunnels; recovery shafts to carry excavated ore to the surface;
Communication systems to send information back and forth between the surface and the depths.
High pressure valves in underground mining
Underground mining by nature is associated with pressures beneath the surface. Pressure usually builds up relation to depth. Underground mining operations require a fairly complex water system with pressure reducing valves to handle the pressure. Without such valves, pipes would easily burst and pressure would be too great for equipment operation.
The use of high pressure valves serve as a means of creating a safe working environment.
Apart from that, valves provide a means of continuous, uninterrupted water supply to pressure reducing stations.
HPE, a manufacturer of high pressure valves in South Africa, are rated 250 bar working pressure and used in underground applications.
South African mines are known for exposure to high pressures, a corrosive environment and dirty contaminated water. HPE valves are designed specifically for the harsh conditions in South African underground mines.
HPE valves uses the latest technology in the industry. Their technologies include SolidWorks computer software, 3D printing technology, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computer Aided Design (CAD – SolidWorks), Mechanical Hydraulic Systems Analysis (HOPSAN), high speed data acquisition and processing (eDAQ + nCode GlyphWorks), transient and steady state fluid network analysis (AFT-Impulse), pipe stress and deflection analysis (Ceasar).
Built to last for 20 years, HPE provides valves that are made from stainless steel and bronze with the seals and bearings made from ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. All valves conform to ANSI B16.34.
With HPE valves, South African mining companies can expect nothing less than world class high pressure valves that are guaranteed to get the job done over and over again for a long period of time.