Understanding the Open Pit Mining Process

September 28, 2020

Any material that is being extracted from the mining process cannot be grown through agricultural processes, which is why the mining industry still exists today. And with the speedy advancements in technology, various mining processes have been enhanced significantly, making some of them very effective in acquiring the needed materials. One of these processes is the open pit mining process.

Overview of Open Pit Mining Process

Open pit mining, which is also known as open cast or open cut mining, is a type of surface mining process that extracts rock or minerals from the ground from an open-air pit. This type of mining process is mostly used in the mining industry around the world as it does not require the presence of tunnels. It does not also require extractive methods that can pose risks and dangers to the workers and the environment.

Open-air pits that are created by this mining process are sometimes known as quarries or borrows, especially if these areas generate building materials and dimension stone. Minerals or ore deposits are typically extracted from these pits, whichever the closest to the surface of the ground. Other materials that are difficult to retrieve due to the presence of hard rocks can be only extracted by other mining processes.

Operations behind Open Pit Mining

To start with the open pit mining process, the mining company would first dig on benches that are measured around four to sixty metres vertically, twenty to forty metres wide, and twelve to fifteen metres thick. The interval of these benches would usually depend on the deposits and minerals being mined and the size of the equipment or machinery that is being utilised.

Accessing these benches is usually done through a series of ramps. New levels of benches and ramps that are dug on will usually become progressively wider, ensuring that a new pit bottom is created. And to ensure that the walls of these open pit mines are safe for mining operations, mining companies would drill de-watering bores horizontally. This drilling operation enables water pressure to be relieved and avoid the sudden destruction of the walls along the way. A haul road is subsequently created at the side of the pit so that ore-carrying trucks can have a place to carry materials to and from the site.

Production activities such as drilling, excavation, loading, and transporting minerals or ore deposits can all be done after building and finishing the whole physical mine infrastructure.

Benefits of Open Pit Mining Process

All the operations that are carried out in open pit mining can bring a lot of benefits to the mining company and the industry. For one, this process is just simpler to do, especially when it comes to the mechanical aspect of its mining operations. Moreover, the space created by this mining process does not restrict the movement of trucks and equipment. This freedom of movement makes it possible for the mining operations to be conducted effectively without any hindrance.

Since tunnels and mine caves are not needed in open pit mining processes, the risk of endangering the lives of workers is somehow minimised. Exposure to poisonous gas is likewise mitigated since workers are not entrapped in an enclosed area or space.

Other benefits of the open pit mining process include the ability to mine selectively for ore materials, low capital and operating expenses, the ease of draining subsurface water, and the ability to freely select equipment and machinery.

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