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The drive for mechanization of stoping operations on South African platinum, gold and chrome mines is favouring stope support by rock bolts rather than the traditional volumefilling support methods such as mine poles. Many of the stopes are less than two metres high and this is posing a challenge for the drilling of the rock bolt holes in the hard rock. The major mechanised mining equipment manufacturers developed low-profile fullymechanised roof bolting rigs for this environment. Such rigs cost in excess of R1 million each. An alternative approach has been followed by some local manufacturers, who developed small rigs incorporating stabilizing jacks and conventional jackhammer drills. With the same manpower, these mini-rigs achieve the same output as the fully mechanised rigs, at capital cost of under R30 000 each. Safety of the rock bolting operators has been improved as they control the rigs remotely, from under supported rock, while their noise exposure is also reduced and vibration eliminated. Since 2002, over one thousand minirock bolting rigs have been deployed in South Africa. They are giving consistent high output and have been fully integrated into the stoping operations on several large mines. Further refinement of the rigs and expansion in their use is continuing. The design, development and operation of the mini-rigs are described and the results of trials and full-scale use are analysed.
6th International Symposium on Ground Support in Mining and Civil Engineering Construction, an ISRM-Sponsored Regional Symposium
Minova RSA
South Africa
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