Underground Drilling Rigs: How They Work

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With South Africa being one of the biggest mining countries on the planet, our many mines feature a vast array of industrial drilling equipment. Underground drilling rigs are some of the most-used subterranean excavating tools around, and their uses are too many to cover in one article. We’re going to scratch the surface by looking at a few types of underground drilling rigs, where and when they’re used, and what they’re capable of…

Types of Underground Drilling Rigs

There are five main categories of underground drills used in the South African mining industry, each with their own specific capabilities and applications in the industry. According to this article on underground drilling from The Dickinson Group, the five underground drills used are:

  • Production Drilling Rigs
  • Mining Jumbos
  • Secondary Breaking Drilling Rigs
  • Rock Support Drilling Rigs
  • Tunnelling Jumbos

According to the article, underground drills, “…tend to be much lighter and smaller [than surface drills] and also come in various sizes.”

Where They’re Used

As the name suggests, underground drilling rigs are predominantly used below the surface of the earth, like in horizontal mining shafts and other areas where drilling is required horizontally and at angles greater than 180-degrees.

Owing to the fact that space is an issue when venturing below the ground, underground drilling rigs are usually manufactured with low profiles. Most of the drilling rig’s fuel, spare drill bits and other drilling equipment is stores on the rig itself to prevent excessive back and forth travel.

What They’re Capable Of

While most surface drilling rigs are only able to drill downwards, with some being able to drill horizontally, underground drill rigs are designed to allow for drilling at almost any angle.
According to the article, “these drilling rigs permit drilling of holes at various angles, which proves to be quite advantageous.”

Taking this advantage one step further are the proponents of automation, who are already automating underground drilling processes like never before. Underground drilling rigs can be rigged to be remote controlled units, which will prevent the need for the operator to venture underground and thus making the entire underground drilling process safer for all.

If you love the industrial drilling industry as much as we do, and you’re looking for more information on existing and upcoming drilling technologies, get in touch with Bohrmeister here!