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Shaft Sinking

Shaft mining, or shaft sinking, involves driving vertical shafts into the earth. Once a desired depth is reached, auxiliary tunnels, or drifts, are dug in all directions to access ore and mineral deposits

Shaft mines are dug when there are concentrated mineral deposits embedded deep underground. Shaft excavation is done from the top down, and a shaft can be sunk several thousands of feet to reach an underground ore body. Aside from accessing ore deposits, shaft mines are important for ventilation and material transport.

Key fact: The TauTona gold mine in South Africa is the deepest mine shaft in the world, with a depth of approximately 12,795 feet

A range of shaft equipment is used during this underground mining method. For example, mine cages hoist workers in and out of the shaft. Meanwhile, haulage trucks transport ore through the horizontal drifts and load it into mine skips, which take it to the surface.

Shafts are sunk either by drill and blast techniques, or through the use of equipment like tunnel boring machines. When inside the shaft mine, underground mining equipment, including trucks, loaders and diggers, are used for excavation.

Benefits

  • Extends deep underground

  • Reaches deeply embedded deposits

  • Creates less pollution

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