Broadly considered, the mining industry consists of five major segments: coal mining, gas and oil extracting, metal ore mining, non-metal mineral mining and supporting activities such as resource transportation. Each one of these individual segments requires the use of specific equipment in order to complete the jobs they specialize in.
Although the nuances of every single tool used in mining can quickly become burdensome to navigate, there are several types of mining tools that are used throughout the industry. Here is a breakdown of the eight most common mining tools and what they are used for:
As essential part of the mining industry and many mining operations, blasting tools are used to break down and fracture materials, usually rocks. These mining tools work by using a carefully calculated amounts of explosives to release the sought-after product from the waste material it is surrounded by. Additionally, blasting can also be used to remove pockets of unwanted material that are getting in the way or machines or workers trying to access the materials of interest.
Blasting equipment is essential and is used for both underground and open pit mining operations. Rightfully known as one of the more hazardous aspects of the job, it is critical that all blasting tools are approached with the utmost care. Good blast designs are the backbone of any successful mining operation, as poor practices and excessive explosives can result in damage to rock structures causing unwanted caving.
After the blast has been successfully executed, it is time for the excavators to come in. Once the initial explosion has been completed, an excavator is used to recover the blasted rocks and other debris that has been displaced during the blasting.
Mining has come a long way when you think about the fact that when it was first practiced, miners had to use shovels and steam shovels to break and remove earth. The machines they use today are a mobile vehicle that either moves along on tracks or using standard wheels. They also feature a rotating platform which holds the hinged arm, equipped with a bucket or scoop, that is used for the actual digging.
3. Draglines and Earth Movers
Another important tool used in the mining industry, earth movers are heavy mining equipment that work hand in hand with bulldozers. Most often, these large machines are employed to remove overburden or waste material. This then allows the excavators to remove the material or mineral of interest with much greater ease.
Draglines are one example of an enormous earth moving machine that miners use to drag away dirt and expose underlying coal or mineral deposits. These impressive mining tools are some of the largest within the mining industry, if not on the planet, and can remove several hundred tons of material in a single pass.
Throughout the mining process, drills assist in creating holes descending underground. For example, if the work requires that miners operate underground, drills can also be used to ensure the holes are large enough to serve as a portal for miners to enter.
In another application, miners who extract natural gas and oil commonly rely on drills to reach underground deposits before piping the resources to the surface. Furthermore, coal and mineral miners use these mining tools to create extensive series of holes, which they then fill with explosive charges to blast away chunks of earth.
5. Roof Bolters
As important safety measure used during any mining operation, roof bolters are large, hydraulically-powered machines used to force bolts into roofs. These are a critical tool, as miners routinely use roof bolters to safely and securely support tunnel roofs, preventing underground collapses and giving them a protected environment in which to do their work.
6. Continuous Miners
These rather frightening looking machines have a set of massive, rotating teeth, often made from tungsten carbide. Most commonly used in subterranean coal mining, continuous miners are able to scrape coal from coal beds. Robotic versions are also incredibly valuable in dangerous situations. The advances in modern mining software technology allow these robot versions to be controlled remotely.
7. Rock Duster
These important tools are essentially pressurized pieces of equipment that coal miners use to spray inert mineral dust over highly flammable coal dust. Another hugely important machine when it comes to ensuring safely, rock dusters help prevent accidental fires and explosions.
8. Shuttle Cars and Scoops
In coal mining, these electric-powered shuttle cars are used to transport coal from the coal bed to safer points in the mine. Once it is relocated to a lower-risk zone, miners can safely use standard scoops, or haulage vehicles, to drive their loads completely out of the mine. Of course, hauling equipment is used in all kind of mining and plays an important role in ensuring that the goods get to their final destination is a safe and effective way.