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The Next Generation of TBMs for Mining Applications

TBMs have been used in mining in decades past, but their use has been limited and sporadic, due to both perceived and actual application difficulties. With new technology and mounting success stories, this is changing. For both coal and metallurgical mining, deep ore bodies require long access tunnels, and an efficient and economical method of reaching those deposits.

Today, mining engineers are considering TBMs as part of the overall mine development plan. Planned TBM mine drifts are not only longer, but have more complicated trajectories. Mine development TBMs will have to cope with varying geology, potential for high water inflows, steep gradients, and high temperatures. TBM systems are being planned to cope with such difficulties. TBM systems will be considered and increasingly deployed for mine development, even if commodity prices remain low. TBMs can satisfy the need for increased productivity, better life of mine infrastructure, and safety.

This paper will review the historical use of TBMs in mining, and will discuss the 2015 status of TBMs in mining, and the special requirements and adaptable features needed in order to make efficient TBMs a reality in mines worldwide.


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