In late June Aker Wirth and Rio Tinto’s new innovative tunnel boring system, deigned within Rio Tinto’s “Mine of the Future” programme, departed from Aker Wirth’s production facility near Dusseldorf, Germany, bound for Northparkes Copper Mine in southeast Australia. The arrival of the Mobile Tunnel Miner is scheduled for mid-August when the machine will be made ready for its use in the underground mines.
The machine concept combines the flexibility of a roadheader with the robustness of a TBM. To build this machine knowledge gained from a previous version developed and tested by Aker Wirth in the early nineties was used.
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The Mobile Tunnel Miner is very flexible and versatile. Using the undercutting technology it is especially efficient with tunneling in extremely hard rock (up to max. 300MPa). Another feature of this tunnel boring system is its ability to cut – in addition to circular tunnels – rectangular or horseshoe-shaped cross-sections of up to 6m diameter, eliminating the need to backfill the lower section of the round cross-section.
The machine can be moved flexibly forward with a walking mechanism and backward with a crawler. Aker Wirth engineers employed several swivel joints to attain a radius of just 30m, which is extremely small for a machine of this size and capacity. The tunnel boring system is equipped with support systems for additional strengthening the tunnel.
Einar Brønlund, CEO of Aker Wirth said, “We will revolutionise safety and efficiency in underground mining with the new Mobile Tunnel Miner. With this tunnel boring system Aker Wirth will play a decisive role in shaping the future of the mining industry.”