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Mining and Mine Surveying Basic Dictionary

We have included a basic mining dictionary which will provide a basic meaning to words used throughout the site as well as general terms used in mining and surveying, for the visitors who haven't got any experience working in mines. Some of the terms have been linked to pages with further information.


Auger - A spiral shaped cutting head. These are used on some types of continuous miners.

Arches - Steel roof supports beams (configured in form of an arch).

Back - Roof of an underground area.

Back Break - Rock that is broken past the outer row of blast holes.

Batter -
Refers to the slope of a wall. For example, an excavator digs to a 'batter angle' to achieve a dig wall to the design batter angle.

BCM - Bank cubic metre.

Bench - A level of dirt where a digging machine (e.g. excavator or dragline) sites while digging material below this level.

Blast Clearance Area - An area that needs to be cleared of personnel and machinery prior to blasting.

Blast Guard - A blast crew member who blocks access to a blast clearance area during a designated blasting time.

Blast Pattern - A drill pattern that has been completed and is ready to be loaded or is loaded with explosives.

Bogger/LHD - (Load Haul Dump) An underground loader.

Bord - A tunnel driven at right angles to the main headings.

Box Cut - The initial cut in the ground when excavations are to commence in a new area.

Bratice - A wall of separation (usually temporary) to barricade designed to direct air flow (or restrict it).

Bulkhead - A wall or structure used for blocking off an underground opening.

Bund Wall - A safety barrier constructed from material (usually broken rock) on the side of a ramp, pit edge or vertical opening to prevent vehicles from entering or passing over it.

Cage - A platform attached to a winding rope used for transporting personnel, supplies and equipment in a mine shaft.

Catenery Cable - A wire used for hanging ventilation ducts and electrical cables.

Charge - An explosive/blasting material used for loading a blast hole.

Chock - 1) - A wedge placed behind a wheel to prevent vehicle movement.

Chock - 2) - A hydraulic jack used as a roof support for a longwall or shortwall miner.

Chute 1) - (Escape Chute) An emergency escape tube fitted to large machines such as shovels.

Chute 2) - A slide-like apparatus with restrictors used for loading of trucks, skips or rail cars.

Cleat - A natural opening mode factures in coal beds. The coal will break more easily in a parallel parting than in other directions.

CMS - Cavity Monitoring System - A surveying tool used underground for surveying cavities such as stopes.

Collar - The outer edge of a hole.

Control Room - A room where operations within the mine are constantly monitored and controlled.

Continuous Miner - A machine capable of cutting and loading coal from a solid coal seam.

Conveyor - Equipment used to transport material using rubber belts and rollers.

Cross-cut - An underground drive that runs across a coal seam.

Crown Pillars  - Horizontal pillars that run across a coal seam.

Crusher - Equipment used to reduce the size of material by crushing it through the means of mechanical compression.

Cut Through - A roadway or ventilation passage that interconnections main workings.

Crest - Top of a pit wall, rill/windrow, or dig face.

Drill Pattern - This is a pattern usually marked out by surveyors (unless the drills have GPS) using many pegs, surveying pins or cones for the drills to follow.

Drop Cut - When a machine digs to a lower level after finishing the current level dig.

Exclusion Zone - Can have multiple meanings, it can be an area where access is prohibited unless permission is granted or an area where mining operations are not allowed to proceed. In some cases an exclusion zone might be established permanently where a disaster has occured.

Face - A vertical wall of a drive in the direction which the mine is heading.

Fault - A natural discontinuity in a geological structure (or volume of rock).

Fill - Waste material (rock) used to fill excavated holes/areas.

Floor 1) - Ground in an underground area.

Floor 2) - (Coal Floor) The ground below a coal seam.

Fresh Air Refuge (FAR) - A chamber designed for the protection of personally in the event of an underground emergency where the atmosphere is not safe.

Go Line - A parking area where vehicles are left at the end of a shift ready for the next shift.

Gradient - The slope of drives, cross-cuts, inclines and declines (See below).

Grade - Ground steepness. Levels, GPS and inclinometres can be used with pegs to set out cut/fill values for machines to follow to achieve correct grades. Certain attachments can also be machine mounted and not require survey pegs.

Haul Road - The main road(s) in a mining operation used for hauling coal or waste material from the mining area.

Heave - The expansion of shot ground after a blast.

Headframe - A steel structure built around a mine shaft for supporting winding systems, cages and skips.

Heading - A roadway or cross-cut in an underground operation.

High Wall - The wall at the edge of a pit. They are generally very tall and very steep.

Isolation - A method of making equipment inoperable and therefore safe to work on/around.

Jumbo - A development drilling rig used in underground rock mines.

Laser Level/Staff - A survey instrument used to check levels.

Level - A main underground passage or roadway system.

Loaded Shot - Drill holes loaded with explosive.

Longwall - A method of extracting coal on a continual mining face working between roadways.

Man Car - A vehicle used for transporting people underground.

Mine Car - A trucked mounted or rails which transports material.

Misfire - A result of explosives failing to detonate in a blast. Surveyors generally provide pegs to locate these for the safe removal of explosives by more delicate digging methods.

Pillar - A block of coal or rock that hasn't been mined.

Portal - An entrance to an underground mine.

PPE - Personal Protective Equipment i.e. glasses, sunscreen, ear plugs, steel capped boots, reflective clothing etc.

Rehab - Mines are required to rehabilitate a quota of land after the disruption by mining activities. This involved spreading topsoil over it and planting seeds.

Return Airway - An airway intended for moving gas or air out of an underground mine.

RL - Reduced level. This refers to a level once it has been reduced to a datum.

ROM - Raw Ore Material or Run Of Mine, an area where mined material is stored prior to preparation and train loading.

Shaft - A vertical or near vertical entrance into underground workings.

Skip - A loading vessel attached to winding rope used for transporting rocks to the surface of an underground mine.

Sheeting - This is a better material that is laid out over rough areas and smoothed out
to give a better surface to operate vehicles on.

Spotter - A person guiding you as you manoeuvre a vehicle. A spotter is also used when you want to approach a high wall or somewhere with a risk that you might have an obstructed view of.

Stope - An open space left in an underground mine as a result of using the stoping method to remove wanted ore. Surveyors survey these spaces using a CMS (cavity monitoring system).

Sub-Level - Horizontal underground workings that are not connected to the main shaft.

Toe - The bottom edge of a high wall, rill or dig face. It can also refer to the area at the base of a ramp where it flattens out.

Top Loading - Refers to when an excavator loads a truck while sitting on the same level.

Under Cut - Refers to a dig face that has been excavated slightly further from below the crest of the face. It creates an unstable edge above and the material can fall easily.

Underground Workings - Areas of an underground mine which have been excavated.

Windrow/Rill - Loose material that has been pushed to an edge, generally used to prevent vehicles from driving off high walls or outside of designated roads, as well as for establishing boundaries.

Complex Mining Dictionary

If you would like to conduct futher research and read a more complex dictionary of mining, mineral and related terms, please click here.