Operations in an underground drill site have to co-exist within the mine’s ventilation and operational system. The space requirements of a drilling operation have to be adapted to the limitations provided in available site space, which is usually defined by standard mining operations and geotechnical influences. These limitations affect borehole design, equipment positioning in the site layout and possible interactions with mining equipment and services such as water and power supply.
The ventilation requirements for drill sites and the means employed vary with depth of the site, space and likely presence of gas. All drilling operations provide a particular service for the mine and in each case, drilling must operate in a manner which controls all gas, water and cuttings returning from the borehole. The various standpiping systems employed have evolved under differing influences and must cater for conditions during and after the drilling operations.
The influences that gas content, pressure and flow, rib stability, cleat direction, borehole length, potential water pressure and flow have on a mine’s operation and ventilation systems have to be considered in the design of standpipe length, diameter and fittings. Past history has a strong influence on common practice while worst case effects of a possible in-hole event should be catered for.
This paper describes the early drilling systems and their limitations in ventilation and gas management. The drill site dimensions and set-up are discussed in the context of roadway conditions, equipment layout, ventilation and logistics. The use of standpiping to control all returns from the borehole is illustrated by referring to likely scenarios in a drilling site to achieve the most effective sealed depth to accommodate the worst case possibility of intersecting high pressure gas or water during the drilling operation. Practices to allow gas drainage in the return airway of a panel are described.