UniPass innovation enhances rock bolting safety for modern mines

Friction bolts or resin installed rock bolts hold together the safety of underground mines by providing ground support to keep workers safe from roof falls or collapsing ground. Minova has revolutionised traditional bolts with its Unipass technology.

Friction bolts and resin installed bolts, set with a strong chemical anchor, are among the most important products that can be used within an underground mine.

Without these rock bolts, workers would risk being injured by unsupported rock.

As underground mining companies are forced to dig deeper for deposits, this increases rock stress and exposes operators to higher risks, such as seismic events and rock bursts.

To mitigate this, Minova has taken this safety tool’s capabilities to the next level with the development of its UniPass bolting technology.

Combining Minova’s hollow bolts and CarboThix resins, UniPass is an all-in-one system engineered to suit the potentially hazardous nature of underground mines.

Minova product lead Douglas Pateman says with the quick reaction of the two-component resin injected through the hollow bars, the rock bolt is consistently anchored to allow for safe mining conditions.

“With mines getting deeper, it takes longer to access the deeper ore, meaning workers are exposed to potentially dangerous underground conditions for longer,” Pateman tells Safe to Work.

“To reduce exposure to these conditions, we need to develop better quality ground support installations.

“The technology developed as part of the UniPass system has been extensively tested at facilities globally to prove the UniPass system is suitable for the modern mine – those mines that are going deeper into more challenging conditions.”

UniPass doesn’t just prevent ground fall accidents, it also reduces the time workers are exposed deep underground by reducing the installation period of ground support.

This is particularly important for larger mines that require more rockbolts and spend significantly longer time installing them to reach the ore.

“In taking the next step in ground support technology and developing UniPass, it wasn’t just about improving safety for Minova, but also about productivity,” Pateman says.

“Reducing the time people spend on installing ground support allows mines to continue the development process a lot quicker.”

After spending several years on the development of UniPass, Minova’s global team has brought the technology to Australia to develop a resin to suit the country’s mine conditions.

Key updates have included modifying the resin to create one that could withstand Australia’s unique and harsh underground environment, including its temperature.

 

“The resin is a critical part of the system,” Pateman says. “Transferring that technology to Australia and subsequently developing it to become more suitable for Australian underground conditions was one of the most important phases of research and development.

“For example, in Europe we see temperatures of about five degrees Celsius underground but in some mines in Australia they are above 30 degrees, which can affect how the resin chemicals react and impact the set time.”

Minova manufactures resin for Australian mines locally to best serve the market, while working alongside original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The UniPass range consists of varying rock bolts to service several mining environments and types, including static bolts for static conditions to address hole collapses in fractured ground, yielding bolts for converging ground and dynamic bolts for seismic conditions.

These can all be used in conjunction with Minova’s pumping systems, injection adaptors, controls and skid units to fit onto existing drill and bolting rigs.

The UniPass system also improves productivity on site as it has increased installation rate and improved cycle times compared with conventional models and does not require cleaning as a cement system would, saving approximately 1-1.5 hours per shift.

“We have progressed the UniPass system so it can be brought in behind a jumbo, which allows for it to be easily retrofitted for use with a jumbo, the predominant equipment in our market,” Pateman explains.

“The retrofitted system allows for mines to easily switch between standard mining operations and UniPass bolting. The CarboThix resin can stand for weeks without draining the pumps so there is minimal impact to mining productivity.”

By applying local research to a globally recognised product, Minova has enhanced ground safety bolts to a level that is on par with the advancement of Australia’s mines of today and tomorrow.

“With dedicated development, Minova has drawn on its steel business in Europe to develop new styles of bolts to optimise the productivity of drill rigs and minimise the amount of resin required. Incorporating these developments has allowed us to transfer UniPass into the Australian market,” Pateman concludes.

This article also appears in the Mar-Apr issue of Safe to Work.

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