Whenever you turn on your car, switch on your lights, have a hot shower or even brush your teeth it is made possible by the operation of a mine. Yes, even your toothpaste is thanks to a mine; toothpaste contains ingredients that are sourced from mining minerals. Without mining operations life as we know it would not exist. Now that you have a picture in your mind of the importance of a mine have you ever wondered how one is built?
Before a mine is even built it takes many years to survey lands to determine their viability of producing required minerals and rocks. The environment needs to be analysed to determine the state of health, plans need to be created to limit the impact of mining, and strategies are thought out to mitigate any impacts. Then a post-mine plan is created for re-establishing the environment. Both surface water and groundwater in the surrounding areas or within a mine needs to be protected to ensure save consumption and prevent contamination. Mining companies are environmentally responsible for their actions and planned activities.
Only once the above procedures are planned for can a company apply for the necessary permits to mine the land. This again can take many years and can become quite costly. If the company receives approval to proceed with the mining construction, further preliminary procedures need to be followed before the actual mine can be built.
The designated land area needs to be prepared for the construction site. Preparation includes the removal or stripping of vegetation, rocks and mountainous terrains, and any previous buildings or structures. Any wildlife or protected plant species need to be relocated and top soils can be stored for future use. Plans for ensuring safe water and maintaining the environment need to be put in place, as well.
Once the land is cleared fencing is erected and new carriageways need to be built. This includes railway lines, roads and bridges. Workers camps or “mining towns” need to be built to house the workers. The size will be dependent on the expected size of the mine and the number of workers needed. Sewage, water systems and sediment traps will also need to be built.
After the preliminary planning is completed, construction on the mine can begin. The type of mining activity will determine the type of construction needed. Underground mining activities will require various tunnels to be built. High-wall mining will need protective barriers and surface mining will need the various structures surrounding it. Processing plants are usually built on the site of extraction so processed rocks can be binned or stockpiled.
If the mining operation starts to expand then larger cities with schools, hospitals, entertainment centres and community parks will be built. Speciality trade suppliers or contractors like plumbers
and other construction trades
might open up businesses in the area creating a suitable residential and commercial town.
Reclamation of the land was planned in the preliminary phase and once the mine ceases to operate the land is restored to its original form or to a better or elevated use. Examples could involve quarries being turned into lakes, wildlife parks, office parks or even a golf course. If animals or plants need to be returned, the area is decommissioned
and any buildings or structures are removed and revegetation and re-establishment begins.
Each state and territory has its own regulations concerning mining construction. Obtaining permits is quite costly and approved procedures are to be followed before any construction can begin. Mining companies need large capital investments to ensure the process of building is maintained from beginning to end.
Mining companies have to follow all regulations precisely, ensuring they have the correct permits and supply all documentation, drawings and proposals to the governing bodies. Strict occupational health and safety rules also need to be enforced. Companies need to follow sound environmental practices and have a community focus to ensure positive relations with surrounding communities and the general public.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum
have a website full of resources listing all of the processes, policies, acts and procedures needed in mining construction.
The processes involved in mining construction are time consuming, costly and intricate. Mining companies have to ensure their data analysis is correct and plan policies and procedures that will aid the environment, the surrounding communities, the local mining community as well as shareholders and stakeholders.
Visit our Construction and Allied Services
page for more information about construction in the resource industry.