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Rock milling, surface mining, and terrain leveling are categories of mining in which soil and rocks overlying the mineral deposit are excavated in layers or sections to minimize further processing and increase product quality. This is most commonly achieved using the drilling and blasting method. In recent years, stricter regulations and increasing expenses have created the need for an alternative solution for mineral removal. Precision surface mining, which uses continuous surface miners to excavate the mineral deposit, can provide an efficient, cost-effective alternative or complement to drilling and blasting — and helps to increase product quality.
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The Vermeer Terrain Leveler surface excavation machine is designed to increase handling efficiency by producing a consistent sized product on the first pass. In most cases, it allows operators to bypass primary crushing, feeding product directly into secondary or tertiary crushing systems.
Precision surface mining provides the ability to precisely control the cutting surface, helping separate minerals of varying chemistry without intermixing unwanted materials. If unwanted materials are visually different from the minerals extracted, this method can improve overall yield by allowing separation of the material at the mine face. This can be beneficial in areas where the ore is laid down in thin seams, allowing for easier separation of the product without additional steps.
Using a laser or GPS system, the Vermeer Terrain Leveler SEM can develop a smooth designed floor, which helps minimize wear and tear on mine trucks and loaders.
In addition to stricter regulations, rising costs and having to deal with existing infrastructure — the shock, noise and vibration associated with drilling and blasting may cause problems with neighbors. In these situations, precision surface mining may allow you to continue mining operations, as the Terrain Leveler SEM can work closer to roads and existing structures as it produces minimal shock and vibration.
Where drilling and blasting limitations are not an issue, precision surface excavation can be used as a complement to these efforts. Where drilling and blasting is allowed, it can be cost effective to remove the overburden and waste material using this method. It can also be used to pre-stress the resource to increase production rates and reduce the cost per ton when using the precision surface mining method.