Mining Technology spoke with Normet’s senior vice president of Ground Control and Construction Technologies (GCCT) to discuss the latest developments in bolt technology and what the future holds for the mining industry.
How long you have been at Normet and what does your role involve?
Himanshu Kapadia: I have been with Normet since 2017. I’m currently the head of Ground Control and Construction Technologies, which is one of Normet’s three key business lines. It includes construction chemicals and the rock reinforcement business.
Normet specialises in providing comprehensive support to customers including machinery, chemical products, rock bolts and expert application personnel. Our target market is underground construction, be it mining or tunnelling projects.
Talk me through the key solutions and services that Normet GCCT business line provides
HK: Our technologies are aimed at providing ground support and ground consolidation. Sprayed systems for rock support and waterproofing remain our leading technologies.
These include sprayed concrete admixtures, waterproofing for sprayed concrete surfaces and resin based thin spray liners. In addition, we also provide expert personnel who help our customers in optimising the cost of application and, at the same time, ensure high quality standards. We also provide special products like soil conditioners and tail seal sealants in tunnels using TBM technology.
Ground consolidation and concrete repairs is another area of specialisation for us. These include pre and post injection materials for ground consolidation/leak seal in both mining and tunnelling. The concrete repair systems prevent leak seals through concrete body, for example precast and in-situ concrete lining in TBM/drill and blast tunnels, tunnel rehabilitation, and dam projects.
What’s been the most important technological breakthrough in GCCT in recent years?
HK: The biggest breakthrough is in rock reinforcement. Normet’s patented D-Bolt system has dynamic properties that are particularly useful in moving ground condition. With its unique design, this bolt remains effective even after multiple cycles of movement and we supplement this with bulk pumpable grouts – another upcoming technology.
This technology enables one step installation of rock bolts and grouts, all in one automated operation, and a tremendous productivity advantage. Leading mines around the world now rely upon D-bolts to keep their underground mines safe.
There is a growing awareness of safety and productivity which is making some of the existing technologies interesting again. The urban tunnelling market, for example, has started adopting sprayed concrete final lining with a sandwiched waterproof layer, popularly known as single shell lining. The Connex project in Australia and Mumbai metro are good examples.
In addition to chemical products, Normet also has connections which supports clients with structural designers and specialist contractors who understand this technology. Our customers are then able to get full suite of support: equipment, chemicals, and design and applications guidance.
How important is sustainability in mining and how does Normet help operators work towards it?
HK: There is a growing understanding of sustainability in the industry and the main advantage of working with Normet is that we reduce wastage and promote the use of less aggressive chemical products.
The biggest concern in shotcrete is the rebound – the wastage of materials which falls down from the wall during application. Our modern sprayed concrete equipment and understanding of application management reduces this rebound considerably. This saves cement, the production of which emits high amounts of carbon dioxide.
Additionally, the Tamshot range of accelerators has replaced the previous generation of caustic accelerators. These ground consolidation products have much lower toxicity and some products are completely non-toxic.
Are there any recent or upcoming changes to mining that have the potential to overhaul the industry?
HK: Mines are now going deeper and deeper and, with that, mining companies encounter more and more moving ground. This is where the rule of dynamic bolts comes in. The D-bolt and self-drilling dynamic bolts are key products that we market in this area and which are gaining increasing acceptance and popularity.
Sprayed concrete equipment is now mounted with smart scanners that rapidly scans the substrate without the need for human presence inside the excavated area. Demand for electric vehicles is also on the rise and, in the future, AI will start playing a role in scanning, design, and measurement of treatment to support the ground
It can also make the investigation of future remedial measures much easier. Smart bolt technologies, which are slowly gaining popularity, will begin to give measurements of movement in the ground. This will drastically improve safety as traditional bolts require humans to enter risky areas for damage inspection.
Why do clients come to you?
HK: We offer the complete package for underground construction-related technologies. We have moved beyond just providing the materials; we provide the equipment, the materials, and have a team of people who understand the entire process. This understanding helps us to offer solutions that make our customer’s operations faster and safer.
What does the future hold for Normet?
HK: We are upbeat with the growing prospects and changing trends. Surface mines are going underground and the existing underground mines keep going deeper. Safety and productivity are now the guiding mantras in mining.
Growing demand for underground urban transport is also rapidly increasing the number of tunnels being excavated. These developments will continue to increase the demand for high performance equipment, chemical systems and rock bolts, and Normet is well placed to gain a share of this growing underground construction business.