The most common and recognizable equipment used in mining are the drills and blasting machines. However, miners need various other types of equipment to do their jobs successfully. From the introduction of wet drilling or automated ore transportation, technology has dramatically improved since Red Lake's beginning. Improvements to miners' equipment have not only increased efficiency and productivity but also safety. Today mines are moving increasingly towards automated mining, fazing out manual tools like drills. This will bring even more advancement to the industry's equipment and safety.
Common underground equipment includes:
Common underground equipment includes:
Blasting Cap - Blasting caps are small explosive devices that are used together with fuses to set off a larger explosion. Red Lake mines have used three main types of caps - fuse, electric and non-electric. Historically, fuse caps were crimped to a long fuse, loaded into a blast hole and lit by hand. Eventually, the mines began using electric caps and detonators. Today a combination of electric and non-electric caps are used.
Detonator - Electric detonators or blasting machines were used historically to set off the blasting sequence at a worksite. The machines would send an electrical current through the attached fuse, setting off the sequence of electric blasting caps at face. An example of this machine is the very recognizable plunger model.
Drifter - The drifter or Leyner drill is a rotary hammer drill that is powered by compressed air. The drill is attached to a feed or track, allowing the drill to move along the face. The drill is either mounted on a column wedged between the back and the floor or the hydraulic boom of a drilling jumbo. Water is used to ease the path of drill and help eliminate hazardous dust created by drilling. Miners primarily used drifters in creating a drift (a horizontal tunnel that follows the ore vein) or when a project needed long holes drilled. Like stopers, miners can also use drifters for screening. However, drifters are rarely used in mines today.
Drill Steel - Drill steel, the long metal shaft of a drill attachment, is inserted into a drill and used in the drilling process. Drill steel can have a different sized drill bit on the end, depending on the needs of the projects. Miners attach bits with a hammer and drill bits can be removed with a bit knocker.
Grizzly - The grating that covers the ore chute. The grizzly stops large pieces of ore from passing through and getting hung up in the chute. Rock breakers are used to break large chunks of ore into smaller pieces.
Jackleg - The jackleg has long been the most commonly used drill in hard rock mining. A jackleg is a rotary hammer drill mounted on a leg or stand. The hydraulic leg allows miners to move the drill while drilling. Jacklegs require a solid surface to push against, ensuring there is enough pressure to drill into the face. The drill is operated by compressed air and water is used to ease drilling. Before the jackleg, miners would slowly drill holes by hand using a jack (chisel) and hammers. Jacklegs allowed drilling to become more efficient, cutting down drilling times and operators.
Jumbo - Jumbos are large drilling machines that have drills mounted on a boom (arm). Jumbos can have single, double or triple booms. Drilling machines like the jumbo or long tom (an early form of a jumbo) allow for more efficient drilling and reduce exposure to vibration. These machines are slowly becoming the preferred method of mining today.
LHD (load, haul, dump) Equipment - More commonly referred to as scoops or scooptrams, LHD equipment is used in today’s mines to clear away muck from the face. This equipment, unlike earlier mucking machines, can be operated remotely. Examples of this type of machine can be seen around Red Lake.
Mucking Machines - Muck (rock broken by blasting) needs to be removed from the face (where the miners work) before more drilling happens. Mucking machines (small front-loading machines) pick up the broken ore and put it in mining carts for transportation. Examples of this type of machine can be seen around Red Lake.
Ore Transportation - Historically mines would use wheelbarrows and an underground tram (rail) system to transport the ore to the ore chute. Many of the mines and mining projects had a similar system on the surface to carry the rock around the surface. Today, mines use a fleet of large trucks to transport ore around the mine and surface.
Rock Bolt - Rock bolts are part of the ground support system that is put into place before drilling begins each day. A long steel bar or piece of rebar is used in conjunction with a steel plate to hold screening in place.
Scaling Bar - Scaling bars are steel poles with tapered ends that are used to remove loose rock from the back (roof) and walls of a tunnel. Scaling and screening before drilling is key to protecting miners from falling rocks.
Skip - The skip is used to bring ore from the ore bin (underground storage) to the surface. The skip is located in the shaft of the mine and is controlled by the hoist.
Slusher - Slushers consist of a scoop attached to a winch that pulls broken rock away from the face during the mucking process.
Stoper - Stoping or stoper drills are long rotary hammer drills that are designed to drill vertically. Miners use stopers when they need to drill at a steep angle, typically when working in a stope or driving a raise (tunnel between the levels of a mine). Stopers are also used to secure screening to the back (roof), protecting miners from falling rocks. During drilling, the stoper needs a rigid support to brace against and provide a pushing surface for the stringer (spike at the bottom of the drill). Like the other manual drills, stopers are operated by compressed air, and the drill path is eased with water.
Historic Red Lake Mining
Red Lake Geology
The Red Lake Gold Rushes
From Hudson to Headframe
The Mill Process
Contemporary Red Lake Mining
Mining and Exploration Companies
Premier Gold Mines
Pure Gold Mining
Rimini Exploration & Consulting
Other Mining & Exploration Companies