IllustratedMining Terms


Back- The roof or upper part in any underground mining cavity.

Men travelling to work

Backfill – Mine waste or rock used to support the roof after ore removal

Bacterial leaching / bio-oxidation - The use of bacteria to oxidise sulphide minerals.

aeration of a biopond

Ball mill: a steel cylinder loaded with steel balls into which crushed ore is fed. The ball mill is rotated, causing the balls to cascade and grind the ore.
Banjo - Miner's term for a shovel.  
Barren - Said of rock or vein material containing no minerals of value, and of strata without coal, or containing coal in seams too thin to be workable.  
Barricading - Enclosing part of a mine to prevent inflow of noxious gasses from a mine fire or an explosion. Also used in cut & fill stopes to hold back the wet sandfill until it dries.

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Barrier - Something that bars or keeps out. Barrier pillars are solid blocks of coal left between two mines or sections of a mine to prevent accidents due to inrushes of water, gas, or from explosions or a mine fire.

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Base Metal - A metal inferior in value to gold and silver, generally applied to the commercial metals such as copper, lead, etc.

Basic Rock - An igneous rock, relatively low in silica and composed mostly of dark-colured minerals.  
Beam - A bar or straight girder used to support a span of roof between two support props or walls.


Beam building - The creation of a strong, inflexible beam by bolting or otherwise fastening together several weaker layers. In coal mining this is the intended basis for roof bolting. Similiar to cribbing.

Cribbing Used to Keep Car Stable

BearingA surveying term used to designate direction. The bearing of a line is the acute horizontal angle between the meridian and the line. The meridian is an established line of reference. Azimuths are angles measured clockwise from any meridian.

Bearing plate - A plate used to distribute a given load. In roof bolting, the plate used between the bolt head and the roof.


Bed - A stratum of coal or other sedimentary deposit.    

chart mars sedimentary rock .jpg

Bedrock - any solid rock underlying gravels or other detrital material  
Belt conveyor - A looped belt on which coal or other materials can be carried and which is generally constructed of flame-resistant material or of reinforced rubber or rubber-like substance.

Roach Incline Belt Conveyor with Integral Noseover

Bench - One of to or more divisions of a coal seam separated by slate or formed by the process of cutting the coal. In open pits, benches are different mining levels formed as the rock is mined in horizontal slices.

Beneficiation - The treatment of mined material, making it more concentrated or richer. Uses the process of crushing, grinding, and often froth-flotation to remove waste rock from ore. The metal content is increased as the waste is removed.

The low grade ore beneficiation plant (the Concentrator) at Mount Tom Price was commissioned in 1979. This marked a further stage of ore processing by Hamersley and increased total production to 46 Mt/a (dry basis).

Berm - A pile or mound of material capable of restraining a vehicle.             

filter berm

Binder - A streak of impurity in a coal seam.  
Bit - The hardened and strengthened device at the end of a drill rod that transmits the energy of breakage to the rock. The size of the bit determines the size of the hole. A bit may be either detachable from or integral with its supporting drill rod.

Bituminous coalA middle rank coal (between subbituminous and anthracite) formed by additional pressure and heat on lignite. Usually has a high Btu value and may be referred to as "soft coal."

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Blasting agent - Any material consisting of a mixture of a fuel and an oxidizer

 tonne of explosives

Blasting cap - A detonator containing a charge of detonating compound, which is ignited by electric current or the spark of a fuse. Used for detonating explosives.

Blasting circuit - Electric circuits used to fire electric detonators or to ignite an igniter cord by means of an electric starter.

Bleeder or bleeder entries - Special air courses developed and maintained as part of the mine ventilation system and designed to continuously move air-methane mixtures emitted by the gob or at the active face away from the active workings and into mine-return air courses. Alt: Exhaust ventilation lateral.  
B-Line - A detonating cord with a high explosive core used in secondary blasting operations.

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Block Caving - A cheap method of mining in which large blocks or ore are undercut, the ore breaks and caves under its own weight.

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Bolt torque - The turning force in foot-pounds applied to a roof bolt to achieve an installed tension.

Borehole - Any deep or long drill-hole, usually associated with a diamond drill.


Bootleg - The bottom or side or a drillhole left unbroken by a blast.  
Bottom - Floor or underlying surface of an underground excavation.

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Boss - Any member of the managerial ranks who is directly in charge of miners (e.g., "shift-boss," "face-boss," "fire-boss," etc.).  
Boxhole - A short raise or opening driven above a drift for the purpose of drawing ore from a stope, or to permit access.

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Box-type magazine - A small, portable magazine used to store limited quantities of explosives or detonators for short periods of time at locations in the mine which are convenient to the blasting sites at which they will be used.

Pro-Tec explosive magazine storage

Breakthrough - A passage for ventilation that is cut through the pillars between rooms.  
Breast - A working face, usually restricted to a stope.

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Bridge carrier - A rubber-tire-mounted mobile conveyor, about 10 meters long, used as an intermediate unit to create a system of articulated conveyors between a mining machine and a room or entry conveyor.  
Bridge conveyor - A short conveyor hung from the boom of mining or lading machine or haulage system with the other end attached to a receiving bin that dollies along a frame supported by the room or entry conveyor, tailpiece. Thus, as the machine boom moves, the bridge conveyor keeps it in constant connection with the tailpiece.

Brow - A low place in the roof of a mine, giving insufficient headroom.  
Brushing - Digging up the bottom or taking down the top to give more headroom in roadways.  
Brunton - A small pocket compass with sights and a reflector attached, used in mapping.

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Btu British thermal unit. A measure of the energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.  
Bulk sample - A large sample, selected in such a manner as to be representative of the material being sampled.  
Bullion - Metal in bars, ingots or other uncoined form.

Bump (or burst) - A violent dislocation of the mine workings which is attributed to severe stresses in the rock surrounding the workings.

Burn Cut - Cut holes are drilled straight into the surface parallel to each other with one or more holes left unloaded for the other holes to break into.

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By-product: a secondary metal or mineral product recovered in the milling process.  

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