Almost 20 years have passed since the cutting-edge research by Thompson
and Visser on the design and management of opencast mine haul roads
was conducted in South Africa. This system is based on three principles,
namely the structural ability to support the ultra-heavy truck loads, the
selection of vehicle and environmentally friendly riding surface, and an
appropriate level of maintenance to counteract wear and tear. Obviously,
proper layout and geometry are essential.
These principles have been implemented worldwide, and it is useful to
review the lessons learned. The objectives of this paper are to present a
critical review of the status of mine haul road design and management,
and the impact that these principles have made on operations, particularly
the cost-effectiveness. The paper briefly reviews the principles of the haul
road design and management and the extent to which they are applicable.
Case studies of a number of implementations are presented to demonstrate
that the principles are sound and have been applied effectively. For
example, at an international operation the transport cost of coal was 40%
more expensive than anticipated in the feasibility stage, and this made the
mining operation uneconomic. Correction of this problem resulted in a
viable enterprise. Although designed for opencast operations, the
principles are equally valid for underground operations, and initial
development work will be discussed.
The main conclusions are that the research approach is valid and its
effectiveness has been demonstrated in a number of applications. The
anticipated financial benefit has been derived, and has made the mining
operations that used the principles more effective. Of major importance is
the application of opencast haul road design principles to the future thrust of using driverless vehicles in opencast and underground mining, where
the road quality is not negotiable as there is no driver that can avoid
obstacles or severe road deterioration.