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Drilling in Mining

In mining, drilling has two key functions: exploration drilling, used to locate underground minerals and detect faults in surrounding rock, and production drilling, in which blastholes are drilled to aid in excavation and extraction.

In mining exploration, drilling obtains detailed information on mineral content and rock formations. Three drilling techniques commonly used in mineral exploration are reverse circulation (RC) drilling, rotary air blasting, and diamond core drilling.

Key fact: Diamond core drilling takes up to five times longer than RC drilling to drill an equivalent amount of rock

These drilling techniques are also used to facilitate ore extraction. Once a mineral deposit has been located, a blasthole is drilled, packed with mining explosives, and detonated. This breaks up the rock, making it easier to explore and extract minerals.

But drilling poses many dangers, including mechanical failures, geological instabilities, and the release of dangerous gases and dust. To enhance health and safety, companies are investing in automated drill rigs, which remove workers from hazardous environments while improving precision and productivity.

Key fact: The worst European mine disaster, which killed 1,099 miners in 1906, was directly caused by methane and dust

Benefits:

  • Identifies mineral deposits

  • Detects faults in surrounding rock

  • Facilitates ore extraction

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