Take It Away Carefully: The World's First Eco-Technology of "Honeycomb" Underground Mining Which Reduces the Loss of Minerals by 4 Times Is Invented at NUST MISIS

Take It Away Carefully: The World's First Eco-Technology of "Honeycomb" Underground Mining Which Reduces the Loss of Minerals by 4 Times Is Invented at NUST MISIS

PR Newswire

MOSCOW, Oct. 12, 2020

MOSCOW, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The research team from the NUST MISIS Mining College has presented the latest "Honeycomb" Technology for solid mineral mining. The technology is based on a fundamentally new nature-like concept for the development of the Earth's interior. The new-generation engineering solutions created based on the novel convergent system will provide an order of magnitude higher economic and environmental performance in underground mining.


The modern technocratic civilization takes materials and energy from the substance extracted from the Earth. The outstripping growth in the consumption of mineral raw materials on the planet leads to a rapid depletion of non-renewable resources and reserves in the lithosphere, to complication of mining conditions and to the increase in the depth of mining. At the same time, up to 400 billion tons of waste rock—which is often more than the volume of the extracted minerals—is taken from the subsoil to be stored on the Earth's surface annually.

The process of mineral extraction always generates a zone of anthropogenic destruction in the lithosphere and disturbs the adjacent areas of the Earth's crust with a cascade of accompanying environmental problems. On the other hand, the infrastructure and maintenance of large-scale mineral mining, which is one of the most energy-intensive sectors of the economy, are based on the advanced extraction of liquid, solid and radioactive resources from the subsoil. That is, to extract and use, you first need to spend a lot.

Scientists from the Research Center for Applied Geomechanics and Convergent Mining Technologies at the NUST MISIS Mining College have proposed a new solution for the key mining challenges associated with safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness—creation of sustainable honeycomb mine structures underground. This technology is a part of the innovative nature-like (convergent) and functional subsoil development, which allows a major reduction in the volume of waste rock storage on the Earth's surface, and enables a scale-down in the rate of industrial accidents and injuries of mine personnel.

"This technique is a part of a system in which interaction between the nature and technology is organized according to the principle of co-evolution of antagonistic systems in the theory put forward by Academician Nikita Moiseyev, that is, the dialectically contradictory co-development," said Project Manager, Director of the Center and Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaly Eremenko. "This approach implicates mining using analogs of natural processes distinguished by maximum safety, practicality and wastelessness."

In particular, the Center's research team is developing the technology of "honeycomb" underground mining without large-scale blasting and with extraction of ore from vertical "pipes" drilled underground. The created system of drill holes is a very stable mine structure, similar to the structure of a porous human bone bearing load, a cereal stalk, etc.

The system allows reducing the loss of minerals left in pillars during mining from 50-60% to 15-25%.  At the same time, it is convenient to store mining waste in these mined-out voids without lifting it to the surface, vice a verse, other waste from the earth's surface can be placed underground. This "honeycomb" concept is actively used by aircraft designers, architects and builders. It provides the necessary structural strength with a minimum amount of material spent.

"Nature never leaves waste, but carefully selects and restores everything. Industrial waste is normally a man's "prerogative". Unfortunately, man is currently destroying the Earth by leaps and bounds, and it may soon become not green, but a different color," stressed Vitaly Eremenko.

Firstly, this method of mining significantly reduces effective stresses in rock mass, respectively minimizing the risk of rockburst and unpredictable strains and displacements in rocks. As a result, the number of accidents in mines can be largely cut down.

Secondly, thanks to the new technology the large-scale waste rock dumps formed during development of the lithosphere may become a thing of the past. The mines applying this technology will reduce waste storage on the surface by 100%.

The project has been supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation and is currently at the stage of basic research. The scientists carry out laboratory tests of physical models of any complexity mine structures using 3D modeling methods, and also create and validate standard versions of other convergent geotechnologies for underground mining of mineral deposits of any geological types.

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