Authors: Thompson, RJ; Malekzehtab, H

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Thompson, RJ & Malekzehtab, H 2018, 'Underground roadway design considerations for efficient autonomous hauling', in Y Potvin & J Jakubec (eds), Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 337-350.

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Whilst considerable time and effort is expended on loader and truck haulage system selection and optimisation for an underground operation, comparatively less effort is applied when considering the design and maintenance management of the roadways on which the system is intended to operate. These roadways or declines should be considered an asset, and should, in conjunction with the vehicles using them, be optimally designed and their routine maintenance predicted, planned and managed accordingly. Ad hoc or empirical approaches to roadway design are generally unsatisfactory because of the potential for either overdesign or specification of short-term low-volume roads, or conversely and more typically, underdesign leading to excessive operating and road maintenance costs, premature failure and significant safety and productivity impacts. The interaction of the truck or loader with the roadway running surface will directly influence the productivity, cost efficiency, and critically, safety of the system as a whole. This is true for both manual and autonomous operations. However, with autonomous systems, the roadway itself becomes all the more critical to the success of these type of operations; not only in relation to mine operators’ requirements for safer and more efficient and predictable haulage systems, but also in response to autonomous vehicle manufacturers’ requirements for a more predictable and controlled operating environment. This paper presents a brief summary of fundamental roadway design concepts, followed by a review of current approaches to underground roadway design, from both structural (layerworks) and wearing course (running surface) perspectives. The design and technological challenges associated with providing a safe, predictable and affordable roadway for autonomous underground mine vehicles is then examined as a basis for evaluating the contributions that engineered roadway design and management can deliver to large-scale bulk and autonomous underground mining operations.

Keywords: roadway design, decline, pavement design, hauling, underground mining, autonomous

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