HomeFeatures & AnalysisSteel wire mesh tunnel support by Geobrugg ensures safety

Steel wire mesh tunnel support by Geobrugg ensures safety

Codelco, the operator of the largest century-old underground copper mine El Teniente in Chile, commissioned Swiss safety net and mesh net company Geobrugg  to provide dynamic steel wire mesh to stabilise the mine tunnels and boost its safety.

Automated installation provides both an efficient realization and the greatest degree of safety
Automated installation provides both an efficient realization and the greatest degree of safety

El Teniente underground mine spans more than 3 000 km of underground tunnels and has the largest known copper deposits in the world. The mine employs almost 5 000 people.

In addition to solutions protecting against natural hazards, Geobrugg also provides safety solutions for underground mining with this dynamic mesh.

After years of testing this mesh type has proven it’s capability for the underground mining sector. It is now marketed under the brand name MINAX, and sets entirely new standards for providing cost-effective safety.

Two major developments which can be observed in the mining industry worldwide put the high-tensile and dynamic steel mesh of Geobrugg more and more into the limelight. These developments are the relentless efforts to increase safety in the mines and the need to exploit the ores in deeper and therefore more demanding levels.

One solution – many superb advantages

There were two crucial factors that led Codelco to choose the Geobrugg mesh in their New Mine Level (NML) programme, namely:

1) Dynamic surface support by high-tensile steel wire mesh,

2) safe,and faster automated installation.

Made of high-tensile, corrosion-resistant steel wire, this dynamic mesh is the only one suitable for underground surface support and challenging geological conditions prevalent in these tunnels.

Automated installation of the mesh provides both an efficient realisation and the greatest degree of safety since miners are not required to be co-located in the danger area during installation. Naturally, these factors have a positive effect on the operating costs.

Maintaining client safety and profitability

Geobrugg has five global production facilities and over 50 worldwide branch locations allowing delivery of different gauge versions of MINAX wire mesh in large quantities and with short notice.

All mesh exhibit extraordinary strength; and to ensure a long service life Geobrugg analyzes the environmental conditions of the mines and treats the MINAX wire mesh with the required corrosion protection.

Hence, the use of MINAX in the El Teniente mine not only represents a milestone in Geobrugg’s product development, but also great progress for the mining sector with regard to safety and profitability.

Interest at the highest level

Doris Leuthard, minister of environment, transport, energy and communications in the Swiss government showed great interest in the new safety installations and Codelco’s NML program during her recent visit to the El Teniente mine.

Doris Leuthard and German Fischer underground at El Tiente
Doris Leuthard and German Fischer underground at El Tiente

She met with the Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco and other representatives of the government to sign two agreements for increased collaboration between Switzerland and Chile in the planning of infrastructure and the promotion of energy efficiency.

Another focus of Leuthard’s visit was to survey the potential for natural hazards as the climate continues to change.

Switzerland possesses great expertise in anticipating and being prepared to contain floods, rockfalls, avalanches or debris flows, which means that increased collaboration with Switzerland could be invaluable for Chile.

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Chantelle Kotze
Chantelle Kotze is a Johannesburg-based media professional. She is a contributor at Mining Review Africa (Clarion Events - Africa) and has created content for the media brand over the past 6 years.


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