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Researchers get buzz from 'Honeycomb' underground mining

This method could significantly reduce effective stresses in rock mass and cut accident rates

|Oct 13|magazine4 min read

Scientists from the Research Center for Applied Geomechanics and Convergent Mining Technologies at the NUST MISIS Mining College have proposed a new solution for the key mining challenges associated with safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness - creating sustainable 'honeycomb' mine structures underground. 

This technology is a part of the innovative nature-like (convergent) and functional subsoil development, which allows a major reduction in the volume of waste rock storage on the Earth's surface, and enables a scale-down in the rate of industrial accidents and injuries of mine personnel. Up to 400 billion tons of waste rock - often more than the volume of extracted minerals - is taken from the subsoil to be stored on the earth's surface annually.

It avoids large-scale blasting and enables ore to be extracted from vertical 'pipes' drilled underground. The created system of drill holes is a very stable mine structure, similar to the structure of a porous human bone bearing load. The system allows reducing the loss of minerals left in pillars during mining from 50-60 percent to 15-25 percent. It is also convenient to store mining waste in these mined-out voids without lifting it to the surface.

This method of mining significantly reduces effective stresses in rock mass, minimising the risk of rockburst and unpredictable strains and displacements in rocks. As a result, the number of accidents in mines can be reduced. Thanks to the new technology the large-scale waste rock dumps formed during development of the lithosphere may become a thing of the past. The mines applying this technology will reduce waste storage on the surface by 100 percent.

The project, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation, is currently at the basic research stage. Lab tests of physical models of any complexity mine structures are made with 3D modeling methods, creating and validating standard versions of other convergent geotechnologies for underground mining of mineral deposits of any geological types.

NUST MISIS statement
Mining Global magazine