Monday, August 13, 2012

TauTona Mine - World’s Deepest Mine

The TauTona Mine or Western Deep No.3 Shaft, located in South Africa, is the deepest gold mine in the world with miners working 2.4 miles below the earth’s surface. Known as one of the most efficient mining processes, 5600 miners roam through 500 miles of tunnels removing the gold containing ore.
The TauTona mine exists within the West Witts area slightly South West of Johannesburg in the North West of South Africa. The mine is near the town of Carletonville. TauTona neighbours the Mponeng and Savuka mines, and TauTona and Savuka share processing facilities. All three are owned by AngloGold Ashanti. 

The mine was originally built by the Anglo American Corporation with its 2 km (1.2 mi) deep main shaft being sunk in 1957. The mine began operation in 1962. It is one of the most efficient mines in South Africa and remains in continuous operation even during periods when the price of gold is low. In 2006 AngloGold Ashanti commenced a project to extend its South African TauTona gold mine to 3.9km. This was completed in 2008 making it the world’s deepest mine, surpassing the 3,585m deep East Rand Mine by a good distance. The name TauTona means "great lion" in the Setswana language.

The mine is a dangerous place to work and an average of five miners die in accidents each year. The mine is so deep that temperatures in the mine can rise to life threatening levels. Air conditioning equipment is used to cool the mine from 55 °C (131 °F) down to a more tolerable 28 °C (82 °F). The rock face temperature currently reaches 60 °C (140 °F).

The journey to the rock face can take one hour from surface level. The lift cage that transports the workers from the surface to the bottom travels at 16 meters a second. The mine has also been featured on the MegaStructures programme produced by National Geographic.

Gold production declining due to increased seismic activity in the vicinity of the CLR shaft pillar which is being mined, and at several highgrade production panels, where production was halted for limited periods during the course of the year. Both face length and face advance were negatively affected by seismicity during the year. The increased geological risk from this seismic activity necessitated re-planning regarding mine layout and mining methods.



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