This Australian mining tool could save lives world-wide

Australia-based Forefront played a significant role in the future of international mine safety when it launched an innovative application product to the worlds’ mining community at the fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving, held in Vancouver October 2018.

The event presented the perfect opportunity to launch HEX-RITE, a lifting tool used for charging high explosives into drawpoints associated with block-cave, sublevel-cave and open stope mining. The growing popularity of the block-caving and sublevel-caving mining methods around the world is largely due to the very low production cost and the intrinsic safety associated with these mining approaches.

The growing popularity of the block-caving and sublevel-caving mining methods around the world is largely due to the very low production cost and the intrinsic safety associated with these mining approaches. They are often the only viable mining methods for some of the lower grade massive orebodies that are becoming too deep for open pit mining.

HEX-RITE was initially designed to be utilised in block-cave mines. In the block-caving mining method, the ore body is undercut so the base of the ore body starts collapsing, or caving, due to the mass of overlying material. The ore body subsides under gravity, gathering at draw points for collection and later processing. At the same time, the caving process gradually propagates upward and further into the ore body. Often, overly large fragments can block an extraction draw point. The culprit can be a single boulder or a stringed arch of smaller boulders.

These blockages are referred to, by block-caving miners, as ‘hang-ups’. Stresses created by the blockage transmit to important mine structures, such as draw point brows, structural pillars and extraction-level drives. Damage can go as far as causing footwall heave and failure of sidewalls and the extraction of these hang-ups can create a fatal work environment for miners as they manoeuvre equipment and explosives to eradicate any obstacles.

The HEX-RITE removes personnel from the line of fire whilst safely, and efficiently, clearing oversize material hangups, a solution that symposium delegates from almost 100 different companies from 14 countries were introduced to as Forefront demonstrated the use of their safety products as a registered trade exhibitor.