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About us

At CSIRO Hard Rock Mining program, we investigate a dynamic cutting technologies for machanisation of hard rock mining.

Application of mechanised cutting/fragmentation technologies in hard rock mining environment is impeded with the limitations of the existing technologies: being power, size, mobility, and cutter life. Cutting technologies of hard rock mining should be robust and powerful to endure high reaction forces from breaking through strong material, but at the same time be flexible and small in size to navigate through sharp turns and confined spaces of underground mines.

Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM), which use roller disc cutters and are predominantly used for excavation in civil engineering projects, are powerful and effective in cutting through very strong rocks; however, are large, cumbersome and inflexible, making them unsuitable to manoeuvre in narrow mine spaces. The road headers, which use drag picks, on the other hand, have the required mobility but are limited in power and cutter life and cannot effectively break through strong rocks. Therefore, there is a need for alternative cutting method that allows reducing the size of the excavation machines, without compromising their effectiveness in breaking hard rocks.

Three main classes of rock cutting tools
Fig 1: Three main classes of rock cutting tools