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Tunnelling is a key activity in infrastructure projects and in mine development and production. The speed of
tunnelling has always been important, especially in underground constructions, where profit is often linked
to how fast the job can be done. This is also valid for development in the mining industry. However, for the
miner the situation is sometimes different, in that his ambition is to fulfil ore production targets with as small
an input of resources as possible. This means that the main objective has been the utilisation of machinery
and labour. In the mine development phase, on the other hand, a rapid access to the orebody is crucial, since
it will yield a quicker pay back of the investment.
Even if rapid development advance is a priority, it is important to recognise that modern tunnelling
technique and equipment can provide additional benefits including: production control, improvement in
tunnel and profile quality, characterisation of the surrounding rock mass, etc.
During the past few years increased focus has been placed on communication technology improving the flow
of information to and from the rig. Information on production, quality, maintenance, ground
characterisation, etc., can be supplied by the rig if the technical framework is present. Logging functions
have also been extended and can now provide detailed information on production, drill hole quality, the
maintenance requirements and drill monitoring for geological and geotechnical characterisation of rock
mass ahead of the face. Computerised drill plan design enables a drilling sequence to be designed by
computer based on the tunnel design for each section. This technology is now in use and can assist with
quality control such that the tunnel will be constructed according to the design with a minimum of over
break. The risk of mistakes and faults is minimised and the rig navigation is the only weak point in the chain.
This paper presents the state-of-the-art in equipment and tools for tunnel construction, and discusses the
benefits available through better process quality control, better tunnel design control and improved
knowledge of the surrounding rock mass and the rock mass ahead of the face.
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