Located in Queensland, Australia, Ernest Henry Mining is a Glencore company that first began operating in 1998 as an open pit mine. As the open pit’s economic life span was due to end in 2011, plans in 2009 were confirmed to invest $589 million and transform the mine to underground shaft mining. By early 2012, a 5 km decline had been established to enable the trucking of ore from underground to the surface. Rates of production with this method were approximately three million tonnes annually resulting in about 25,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and 35,000 ounces of gold concentrate per year. By moving to shaft hoisting, 2015 production was forecast to double to six million tonnes of ore. That rate is projected to be achieved on an annual basis over the extended lifespan of the mine to 2026.
The C-Shaft headframe in Yellowknife, originally constructed in 1948, has been one of the most iconic images in the region. The headframe has been there for the entire lives of many local residents. It is a landmark that is displayed on t-shirts, stamps and in history books. However, the headframe is currently being dismantled as part of the Giant Mine remediation project that started in 2013. People have mixed feelings about the structure’s demise. Some feel it is like erasing part of their history while others believe that it’s time to move on.
Yellowknife’s C-Shaft headframe was used by workers for over 50 years for transportation up and down the mine shaft, which is about 640 meters deep. Safety concerns led to the decision to eliminate the C-Shaft headframe to enable early site stabilization for the remediation project.
Mining regulations stipulate that new mine cages have to meet the updated elevator standards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act that is geared towards keeping mine workers as safe as possible. Mining companies and employers need to source top quality, dependable conveyance elevators that are durable enough to withstand the harshest conditions, yet keep the safety of workers ensured as a top priority.
It’s possible to arrange for conveyance inspection at mines to be conducted by experts in the field of cage design who can inspect for worker safety issues as well as operational load needs. Ultimately, a mine shaft performs dual operations within the mining industry – conveying workers down into the mine and up to the surface, and hauling materials between locations.
Before a mining project commences, the site in question is thoroughly explored, entailing a series of lengthy and complex analyses and appraisals to determine the feasibility of the project and the most efficient process to implement. If the minerals are found to be deposited deep in the earth, the only viable option is developing an underground mining operation that involves the creation of a mine shaft.
What is a mine shaft?
A mine shaft is a is a vertical access hole that is several meters in diameter and stretches down to the location of the ore. It is where miners, supplies, equipment, water and air are conveyed to gain access to the ore. Ore is conveyed to the surface through mine skips that move up and down the shaft.