Australia’s underground mine productivity benchmarks are among the world’s best. There are a vast number of operating underground hard-rock mines in Australia producing coal or ore containing a variety of minerals and metals.
For Australian companies trying to enhance mining output in an ever-volatile environment, they must address a range of issues across the business to maximise value.
There is a huge trend towards technological innovation as mine development and operating costs rise. Declining average ore grades, increasing mine depth, and geological complexity innovation all force underground mining to innovate.
Surface mining has been, for some time, the most economical form of mining in Australia but underground mining will soon count for a much larger proportion of total mining.
Underground Mining Advantage
The primary advantage of underground mining is that the ratio of ore to waste rock extracted is more efficient than open pit mining. This means the removal of more valuable material and limited environmental impact.
Open pit mining often sees excavation go deeper, resulting in higher transport costs and larger amounts of waste rock before there is a shift to underground methods.
Underground Mining Technology
Australia’s METS sector has been making a significant contribution toward greater safety, cut costs, and productivity. As technology has advanced, mining solutions are now increasingly applied to underground projects.
Companies are beginning to change their strategies to adopt more cost-effective methods to maximise their use of machinery during peak and off-peak periods, including:
- Trucks & Loaders
- Production Drills
- Development Drills
- Charge up vehicles
- Integrated Tool Carriers
- Narrow Vein Machinery
Underground Machinery Hire
Many companies look to hire very specific equipment for their operations or machine parts, as sourcing and buying the right underground machinery can often be a costly and time-consuming task.
Technavio’s Global Mining Equipment Rental Market 2016-2020 report laid out the high costs attached to the ownership of mining equipment which has led to companies hiring underground mining equipment.
The option of hiring mining equipment is a cost-effective alternative, especially for short duration projects. Many balance their core fleet with hired equipment to compensate for specialised projects as well as peak and off-peak periods. Hire equipment can be fast to find where lead times for the supply of new equipment are growing as the industry becomes busier, and can be easily justifiable in the business model when compared to capital acquisitions.
Such strategies protect mining companies from the impact of declining commodity prices, expensive operations, and increased energy bills. As the market changes a flexible hire provider will add the capability to “switch on” machines, and “stand them down” as site production requirements change.