on February 15th, 2024

Mining, a sector that combines unparalleled challenges with extraordinary rewards, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and technological advancement.  

Deep within the Earth’s crust, where precious minerals hide, the extraction process relies on sophisticated equipment that pushes the boundaries of engineering.  

Life of Mining  

The Ngwenya mine
Ngwenya Mine

Mining has been around for millenniums. The oldest known mine on archaeological record is the Ngwenya Mine in Eswatini (Swaziland), which radiocarbon dating shows to be about 43,000 years old. At this site, Paleolithic humans mined hematite to make the red pigment ochre. 

Today, alongside engineering, mining and the resources that are extracted are critical to our world today and into the future. Mined materials are needed to construct roads and hospitals, build automobiles and houses, make computers and satellites, generate electricity, and provide the many other goods and services that consumers enjoy.  

Beyond its global impact, mining significantly contributes to the economies of these regions and countries, providing jobs, supporting community projects, and fostering economic growth.  

This industry’s allure extends to individuals seeking lucrative financial opportunities, as evidenced by the International Labour Organization’s estimate of approximately 19.3 million people working in mines worldwide. 

The countries with the highest number of mine workers are: 

  • China (4.5 million) 
  • India (3.3 million) 
  • Indonesia (2.2 million) 
  • Russia (1.8 million) 
  • Australia (1.7 million) 
  • South Africa (1.6 million) 

Finding a career in mining might come easy if you have the necessary resources, such as a qualification in the respective field. The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) has a 52892WA Advanced Diploma of Electrical and Instrumentation (E&I) Engineering in Mining, designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge essential for thriving in the mining industry. Some of the learning outcomes include:  

  • Understanding power distribution and cabling in mining 
  • Applying industrial data communication concepts 
  • Recognizing risks in hazardous areas 
  • Managing safe operations of electrical equipment 
  • Interpreting SCADA and Distributed Control Systems 
  • Understanding process control in mining operations 
  • Applying principles for mining instrumentation 
  • Analyzing contemporary issues in engineering 
  • Proposing solutions for SCADA, radio telemetry, and more. 

With the right qualifications and resources, joining the mining industry opens the door to mastering the operation of the best underground mining machines, a practical skill set that complements the hands-on experience gained in the field. 

Disclaimer: Not all underground machines are available in all parts of the world.  

The Best Underground Mining Machines  

Sandvik TH665B Battery Electric Truck  

The first machine worth describing is the Sandvik TH665B, a remarkable example of battery electric trucks. This state-of-the-art vehicle signifies a move towards environmentally sustainable mining practices, providing not just power and efficiency but also contributing to a diminished environmental impact.  

The Sandvik TH665B underground truck features advanced Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery technology, emitting no underground exhaust emissions compared to traditional engines. 

Underground mining equipment
Sandvik TH665B

Moreover, TH665B features AutoSwap, a patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack. Swapping takes about five minutes, allowing the operator to stay in the cabin. It enhances safety and productivity and removes the need for heavy mine infrastructure.  

Famur Roadheader 

Famus Roadheader

Continuing down the list is the Famur Roadheader, an influential force in tunneling technology. This resilient machine highlights precision and efficiency, effortlessly penetrating formidable geological formations.  

The R-130 is a roadheader intended to drill roadheadings with a cross-section of up to 22 m² (standard version) and up to 26 m² (version with a telescopic boom) in rocks with a compressive strength of up to 80 MPa.  

The machine can be used underground in coal mines in methane and non-methane fields with „a”, „b” and „c” class of methane explosion hazards as well as “A” and “B” classes of coal dust explosion hazards, if it is to be de-energized at maximum methane concentration increase up to 2%.  

Joy MATS6 Shearer by Komatsu 

Venturing further into the depths, we have the Joy MATS6 Shearer by Komatsu. This shearer is a true work of engineering art, designed to extract coal with unparalleled precision. Its advanced features make it an indispensable asset for efficient and safe mineral recovery in underground mines. 

Joy shearers are designed to be robust, provide high availability, and feature a modular design. The body consists of a controller case and two haulage cases to form a rigid structure with no underframe. The two-ranging arms feature gears designed and produced by Joy using propriety processes that play a crucial role in maximizing performance. 

Joy MATS6 Shearer by Komatsu

Elphinstone WR810 Underground Water Cannon 

WR810 Underground Water Cannon

Water’s vital role in mining operations is elevated by the Elphinstone WR810 Underground Water Cannon. This potent water cannon is instrumental in efficient dust suppression and supports diverse underground activities, enhancing safety and fostering a more sustainable mining environment. 

The WR810 is the smaller of Elphinstone’s two purpose-built base support platforms.  Available in forward or center mount cab configuration, the WR810 features an integrated Caterpillar powertrain delivering optimum performance and reliability in tough underground conditions. 

Techne KIROW. Slag Taurus, Slag Pot Carrier 

This specialized carrier demonstrates the diverse applications of mining technology, emphasizing efficiency in handling and transporting materials in underground mining operations. 

(Link: Techne KIROW

Sandvik DT1132i 

Wrapping up our showcase is the remarkable Sandvik DT1132i, a true technological marvel. This powerhouse drills with accuracy, boasting clever features that amplify its efficiency. With an intelligent control system enhancing drilling precision, this powerhouse not only saves costs but also gets the job done more effectively. And let’s not forget the high-frequency RD525 rock drill – the cherry on top for flawless drilling, making it the ultimate choice for any underground endeavor. 

The showcased equipment boasts remarkable features, ensuring unparalleled efficiency.

Sandvik DT1132i

With its intelligent drilling control system facilitating automated operations, a high-frequency rock drill for swift and precise drilling, and a rugged design guaranteeing durability in harsh mining environments, it sets new benchmarks in the industry. 

Concluding our venture into the intricacies of underground mining, it’s clear that the industry is in constant transformation, driven by cutting-edge technological innovations. The highlighted tools and equipment from Sandvik, Famur, Komatsu, Elphinstone, and Techne KIROW all have a shared commitment to efficiency, sustainability, and safety, shaping the path for an exciting future. 

Just as mastering the operation of top-notch underground mining machines unlocks new possibilities in this dynamic field, exploring opportunities for skill enhancement remains essential.  

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