The first encounter of DOK-ING and underground mining happened when its founder and innovator Mr. Vjekoslav Majetić visited the platinum mining pits of South Africa. Seeing the hard work done in dangerous environment, the first ideas on how to help people to do it more efficiently were shaped, considering at the same time the additional safety needed for all involved.
Today various and increasingly important uses of platinum (like in automotive industry) have made the demand for platinum mining in South Africa pass the existing supply. Platinum mining in South Africa is supported by the SAR possessing over 80% of the world’s platinum group metal reserves. Along with Russia, platinum mining in South Africa produces a total of 90% of the world’s platinum output – which is about 130 tons per year.
The development of extra low profile equipment for underground mining gained momentum at the turn of new millennium and has been tested in real conditions for at least 8 to 10 years. A number of world renowned commercial companies as well as the small and medium entrepreneurs entered into R&D of these machines, incorporating technological advances and increased focus on safety and reliability in mining.
Having sometimes different approach to the R&D issues, still we do recognize the major players in the design and manufacturing of the mining vehicles and equipment, the main ones being Sandvik and Atlas Copco. Since they are major player in the overall mining equipment, logically they have also considered R&D in the extra low profile equipment area.
Since the first extra low profile mechanized equipment has been designed, constructed and manufactured for the South African platinum mines as the original place of application, it has been done as one of the projects of continuous modernization of mining operations incorporating injury free production and cost-effective mining technologies. The introduction of extra low profile equipment in narrow reef (1,2 m) stoping operations showed the potential to add more value than conventional mining ad low profile (1,8 m) room and pillar methods.
The application of the extra low profile equipment is possible not just in the platinum mines, but also in similarly designed gold mining pits. The wider commercialization means the market research in the countries such as China, Australia, USA, Russia, Peru, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, the producers with more than 100 t of gold per year.
The latest inquiries challenged a completely new area of application. The ultra low profile equipment should be used in open pits, under the existing various types conveyer belts. Due to the fact that people cannot really approach these places because of the safety limitations, and bearing in mind that the conveyer belts should „never stop“, a very conventional solution would be to have a remotely controlled extra low profile loader that could clean the hardly reachable pockets and collect ore with envious efficiency.
Since ore is considered as an economic concept, a saleable product that generates a financially acceptable profit under existing economic conditions, the mining industry poses a number of issues – a majority of them considering productivity, efficiency, cost and similar.
Creating a safe mining environment for efficient production is an absolute necessity of any mine operator. Today the operators can choose from a wide range of increasingly sophisticated equipment that by the usage of the latest technological advancements directly enhances safety and improve production in the mine environment. Along with increase in productivity, safety and environmentally friendly production, the most concerns have been attached to the always present decrease of the production costs.
The extensive R&D in underground mining has been done in recognition of the more strict requirements of the mining business. No matter if we discuss platinum or gold mining, even other minerals, the mentioned demands are almost the same – the solutions provided should not just answer to these demands, but even add value through innovative approach to development of robotic systems and equipment.
The solutions DOK-ING provided in designing and manufacturing the first extra low profile equipment proved to be successful in the platinum mining application. The references acquired so far put DOK-ING very high on the success scale because of the following features of the company:
- Extremely client oriented company
- Though thought to be small, it allow the company to be enormously flexible
- Fast in adopting R&D ideas, and converting them into models
Due to those feature, DOK-ING entered a new project of designing and manufacturing ultra low profile equipment with a completely new power source, put him again on top of innovative producers in the mining industry.