Recently, Kupol has been working with BASF Mining Solutions, a mining chemicals company, to help develop new ground support products to support the mine’s unique needs.
With help from BASF, Kupol developed and implemented shotcrete and superskin technology that is customized to meet needs associated with the arctic environmental conditions at Kupol.
The teams have been researching the safest and most cost-effective way to support the underground tunnels at Kupol and avoid cave-ins.
As a result, they have developed a unique type of shotcrete (a sprayed concrete) that uses a dry-mix that can better support the rock, as opposed to a wet-mix that can easily freeze in arctic temperatures. The water is added at the nozzle a little earlier than usual which allows better mixing and less dust. The shotcrete is applied using robotic machinery that is unique to Kupol.
The teams have also built machines that was made bespoke for Kupol to apply Superskin. The Superskin is used to seal and insulate rock against seasonal temperatures.
The shotcrete and Superskin products are both made in-country, which decreases costs and increases efficiency getting them to the mine. Shotcrete was previously shipped to the mine at 17,000 tonnes annually. This number has been cut by 80%.
The BASF team completed training at Kupol on proper implementation of these products, increasing safety. To date, Kupol has over 150km of underground tunnels that are kept open and safe through work conducted by our crew of experts and the help of BASF.
Underground training with BASF
Shotcrete is applied with the robotic sprayer
An infographic on compressional forces that try to close the tunnel