Simple Underground Mining innovations from front line workers!

3 Mins read

Underground mining is pushing hard into the digital frontier, as covered in multiple articles on this website. However, there are simple solutions to problems often encountered underground, that have been developed by those working on the front line. This article will cover three examples of such innovations that have been developed by those working in the deep, dark underground!

Azimble – Decline Dust Suppression System

Developed and brought to market by front line jumbo operator, Brad Hillster, the Azimble offering solves an old problem. Dust suppression on the long underground tram up the decline is something that is either overlooked or managed poorly at most mine sites. The dust generated is not only bad for underground workers’ lungs, but also terrible for underground machinery and ventilation systems.

The automated system which can be pre programmed for periodic dewatering during a 24 hour period

Brad has developed an automated system that can be programmed to spray overhead gravity-fed raw water onto the decline. This is completed by a series of valves and a manually formatted controller which can be set on a periodic spray cycle. This solution is powered by 2x 9V batteries allowing for long intervals between recharging cycles.

Not only does a system like this remove the dust hazard, it also removes the requirement for vehicles to stop at existing manually operated valves. Whilst reducing the likelihood of over spraying and creating a hazardous surface for uphill trucking by poor manual operation

UG Mining Tech – LZR Tag: survey laser protection cover

The LZR Tag was conceptualised by me, one fateful day whilst following a truck up the decline. Whilst deep in thought, I wondered what product I could develop to make my life easier, whilst working in a busy mine. After 10 months of CAD work, 3D printing and prototyping it was ready for it’s first production run.

As a surveyor, you often become entangled in the mining cycle, and installing timely survey lasers for jumbo development is an essential part of the job. The delicate socket that is left behind once installed can be damaged in numerous ways, usually via fly rock or other machinery working in the area. The LZR Tag offers a malleable hardened rubber protective cover for the laser socket that has been designed for ease of install and visibility at the working front.

The LZR Tag protecting a McGarf survey laser – note the easy to observe reflective surface!

When chatting with jumbo operators they highlighted that the laser socket can sometimes be hard to find in the dirty underground conditions, therefore a reflective strip was attached to the front. Reducing wasted time locating the laser for both jumbo operators, shift bosses and surveyors at the underground face.

Ezy Mining Solutions – EZYTAIL drill steel indicator

Troy Evans and his business partner Dale Harper, have created a simple tool to increase the safety and efficiency around one part of the jumbo puzzle, the installation of resin bolts. This can be a repetitive and challenging task, as there are many variables for the operator to overcome for a perfect install. If not correctly installed the resin bolt system may not deliver the ground support standards required, creating a safety hazard for those working in the area.

The problem they solve is drill hole depth, as the resin and bolt needs to be properly embedded to ensure the integrity of the ground support. When talking about this with various operators there are several different ways to check that you have drilled to the required depth, however, none of them are hard and fast engineered solutions.

The Ezytail being utilised by an underground jumbo drill

The Ezytail offers a simple and cost-effective way of ensuring that resin bolts are installed correctly. It attaches neatly to the end of the existing OEM drill steel and allows the operator to clearly see (when the EzyTail reaches the rock/shotcrete) that the required depth has been drilled. This will make for a safer work environment and reduce costly rework required in areas if pull tests and QA/QC checks fail due to poor installation. 


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I continually strive to offer new and interesting content for those exploring new technologies and ideas for underground mining – so please send me an email if you would like to get involved.

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