Have you ever climbed an 80m ladder? Our Rise Support Crew have! In fact, this team of legends are responsible for the 713 metres of underground ladderways that act as a secondary means of egress from all production areas within the mine.
There are currently 19 ladderways of varying lengths installed within vertical rises or raise bore holes throughout the mine. They are there in the unlikely event that the main mine access portal becomes inaccessible, ensuring there is another way to vacate the mine.
Fosterville Gold Mine uses two styles of ladderways, one constructed from steel, another made from plastic. The plastic ladderway is supplied and installed by a local Bendigo supplier.
Vertical rises and ventilation
The vertical rises play another even more critical role underground, acting as Return Air and fresh Air Rises (RAR & FAR) that ventilate the mine and create safe working conditions for personnel.
Not all of the rises are used as ladderways, but those that are have to be reinforced to ensure they are safe. The specialised rise support crew install 2.4m long resin bolts into the walls of the shaft using an “air leg” (a large handheld drill powered by compressed air). The bolts are spaced approximately 1.2m apart. In addition, mesh is secured to the walls of the rise, to ensure the area is safe for personnel to use.
Ladderways and vertical ventilation rises are not new to mining and date back over 120 years ago when Bendigo had the deepest mines in the world (New Chum Reef -1.316km and Victoria Quartz 1.406km).
Back then, the ladderways were located adjacent to the miner’s cage (the small lift located underneath a mine poppet head), which was used to transport the miners underground each day. Imagine having to climb over a kilometre of ladders to get the surface! It would have been hard work.