Mining operations have changed so much since the early days as modern technologies and equipment now allow miners to efficiently and safely extract minerals they need from the depths of the earth. A feature on Gizmodo detailed one of the deepest gold mine shafts in the world, the Mponeng mine in South Africa, and how the facility uses specialized equipment in its operations. One part of the article cited impressive facts about the mine, elaborating on its scale:
The mine is as deep as 10 Empire State Buildings, and its 236 miles of tunnels are longer than the New York subway.
Every day, 4,000 workers descend into the mine through elevators—or, as they’re called in mining parlance, cages. These triple-decked cages fit 120 people at a time, and the first 1.6-mile shaft takes only 6 minutes to descend. A second shaft takes workers deeper down, and the last part is only accessible by foot or vehicle.
The whole, mind-bogglingly huge structure mines a seam of ore only 30 inches wide.
Seriously: the depths humans will do to get to their hands on gold.
The rock is so hot underground that ice has to be pumped down to cool the tunnels.
Because temperatures increase the closer we get to the earth’s core, the rock faces in the mine can get as hot as 140º F.
The article took note of Mponeng’s immense mine shaft where workers ride in mine cages to descend deep into the earth. To safely lower themselves down the pit, miners need to use durable that act as elevators. Produced by companies such as Wabi Iron & Steel Corp., cages act as huge industrial elevators and are some of the most important pieces of equipment in any mining effort.
Although mine cages are mostly used to transport mine personnel, they can also serve as lifting devices to transport supplies and equipment in and out of the mine. This versatility means that these elevators play a crucial role in ensuring that sufficient amounts of precious metals and minerals are delivered to the surface on time to meet production schedules.
Both mine man cages and service-specific cages need to be of a certain type and size to suit each underground operation’s transportation needs. Generally, the larger the cage, the more personnel and materials that can be transported.
(Source: Terrifying Facts About the World’s Deepest Gold Mine, Gizmodo)