Mine Surveying

in Mining

The mining business involves the identification and extraction from the earth of valuable natural resources and commodities, primarily mineral in composition. There are two basic types of mineral excavation-deep-bore (underground) mining and strip (surface) mining. Each method requires the application of specialized surveying methods that help promote various activities or achieve specific results. No matter which method is being employed, the factors necessary for success are the same. These would include:

• Understanding mineral geology and identifying deposits as they relate to their economic or market value
• Mapping mining claims, both above and below the surface, for the purpose of negotiating with the legal owners the right to extract material from their holdings
• Analyzing the effects of mining activity on the land surface as well as below ground
• Collecting data to plan for the environmental impact that mining has on the area in question, as well as on surrounding (e.g., downstream) geography.

Before the Hole Is Dug...
When planning for mineral excavation, surveyors are one of the first professionals to arrive onsite. During the prospecting stage, boreholes are drilled at various spots in the field, and material extracted during the process is examined for mineral content. Surveyors map out the location of these holes and plot them against known or expected mineral deposits. When a strike is made, additional drilling takes place in adjacent areas to help determine the breadth of the deposit. Once the precise location of each borehole is plotted, the resulting survey is used to plan the optimal location of mining activity.

Surveying Deep Below the Ground
Underground mines are harsh environments. In some areas, mine shafts may extend several thousand meters below the earth's surface. Surveying methods are used to create effective drilling patterns and then employed again to make sure that the resulting bores have been placed correctly. For the safety of workers and the most efficient exploitation of mineral content, it is vital that bores are drilled with precision. The same kind of surveying instruments useful above ground can be equally effective well below the earth's surface. An electronic total station, which measures angles and distance to within just a few millimeters, is perhaps the most valuable tool in the surveyor's arsenal.

Surveying and Mine Safety
In deep-bore mining, shafts extend in all directions (x-y-z) in order to take the most efficient route in following a mineral vein. During the drilling process, surveyors are on hand to keep track of the location of each horizontal, vertical and slant-drilled shaft, ultimately creating a map of the underground complex. In the event of flooding, a cave-in, or some other disaster, the accuracy of these maps can make the difference between success and failure when it comes to mounting a rescue effort. Additionally, rescue boreholes are often necessary to provide much-needed oxygen to these underground caverns. The proper spatial position on the surface or in an adjacent shaft must be aligned with the spot where the other end of the hole is required-to penetrate a particular point in the roof of a collapsed mineshaft, for example-and surveying instrumentation is the most accurate way to achieve this positioning.

Surface-Mining Surveying
Rather than operating in a mostly dark environment well below the earth's surface, the work surveyors do in strip-mining operations is similar to what is expected in the heavy construction industry. Spots are staked out to delineate areas of slope and the proper location of blasting holes, and surveys are conducted throughout the mining process to make sure that everything is proceeding according to plan. At the conclusion of mining operations, a final survey can prove useful to environmental groups interested in reclaiming the land.

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Peter Brittain has 1 articles online

Land Surveys Pty Ltd are building surveyors who provide a complete range of construction surveying services in Perth & Karratha, Western Australia.

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Mine Surveying

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This article was published on 2010/03/31