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Authors: Priyadarshi Hem (Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering - University of British Columbia), Greg Fenrick (InfoMine), and Jack Caldwell (Robertson GeoConsultants)

Revised: January 2012


This review describes the process and equipment used in raiseboring. Several definitions are given, as well as links to courses and publications related to raiseboring. A list of mines using the raiseboring method, and a list of contractors and consultants specializing in this method are given.


Raiseboring brings up fewer than 300 Google entries. When written as 2 words, raise boring brings up nearly 1.5 million. Regardless of how many words you use there is a lot of information out there. Here are my picks that hopefully provide a guide to your technical, scientific, and engineering interests.


From a 1980 paper, Productivity in Platinum Mining: Traditional shaft sinking methods involve making a hole in the ground which is progressively deepened until the required depth in the earth is reached. If underground access is already available to the position of the bottom of the proposed shaft, the method known as raiseboring may be employed. Rustenburg Platinum Mines has successfully used this technique during the development of their underground program. It involves boring a pilot hole vertically downwards to the existing access at the bottom of the proposed shaft and then reaming upwards, that is enlarging, from the lower access point such that the diameter of the hole is the required shaft width. The broken rock falls to the bottom of the hole and the technique allows for greater flexibility in handling the spoil. In addition to lowering costs and saving time, the safety hazards associated with the older methods have been reduced significantly.

The InfoMine dictionary includes these definitions:

  • Raise: (1) A vertical or inclined opening in a mine driven upward from a level to connect with the level above, or to explore the ground for a limited distance above one level. After two levels are connected, the connection may be a winze or a raise, depending upon which level is taken as the point of reference. (2) A mine opening, like a shaft, driven upward from the back of a level to a level above, or to the surface. (3) To take up the floor or bottom rock in a room, gangway, or entry to increase the height for haulage.
  • Raise Borer: These machines are used to produce a circular excavation either between two existing levels in an underground mine or between the surface and an existing level in a mine. In raise boring, a pilothole is drilled down to the lower level, the drillbit is removed and replaced by a reamer head having a diameter with the same dimension as the desired excavation and this head then is rotated and pulled back up towards the machine.
  • Raise Climber: Equipment used in an opening (raise) that is mined upward.

Wikipedia has a similar, if less literate definition.


Raiseboring can be divided into two categories - Raise Drilling & Boxhole Drilling. Atlas Copco provides a good description of their basics and the figures are shown below:

Raise Drilling

Raise Drill Operating Cycle (Image source: Atlas Copco)

Boxhole Drilling

Boxhole Drill Operating Cycle (Image source: Atlas Copco)

The table below shows a typical representation of the different stages in production raiseboring followed by backfilling of the raise, with details like manpower, duration, performance and the types of work done.


EduMine deals with raiseboring in some of its courses including Underground Mining Methods and Equipment and Underground Mine Backfill 2 – Slurry, Paste, and Rock Fills. The easiest way to find the specific sections is to use the search routine on the EduMine Home Page.

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology offers a course in underground mining raise boring. The program prepares mining personnel to work as specialized Raise Bore Operators (miners). It provides instruction and skill development training activities that will introduce you to the concepts and procedures associated with operating a Raise Bore machine in a safe and efficient manner. Upon successfully completing the program, you will receive a certificate from SIAST.

Training Packages Unwrapped has a unit called Conduct Raiseboring. Here is how they describe their course: “This unit covers the technical knowledge and skills which are specific to drilling using raiseboring method. It will be complemented by other general units which cover the more generic aspects of drilling.” This is an Australian site that links to the National Training Information Service where you will find courses on drilling relevant to mining. See also the Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee site and the courses offered by myfuture.


LibraryMine provides an excellent source to some important and relevant papers in the areas of raiseboring and underground shaft sinking.

http://www.books.google.com/ lists 115 books that, in part, deal with “raise boring”. They list 11 that, in part, deal with “raiseboring”.


Raiseborers are the highest paid and highly demanded mining personnel. A raiseborer in Canada can earn from $40 an hour to $50 an hour. One of my friends from Canada who has 8 years of experience in raiseboring now works in Indonesia on a rotational basis at an incredible $80 an hour. Usually a mine worker starts as a raiseborer helper for the first 5 years before they become a raiseborer. To look for career opportunities in raiseboring, please visit CareerMine.


The most impressive use of raiseboring, in my opinion, is by Murray & Robert who developed 7.1 m diameter shafts for Sasol’s Middelbult and Bosjesspruit Mines in South Africa.

Messina Platinum Mines in South Africa uses raiseboring. I liked the presentation at the link provided – well worth your while.

McArthur River Mine in Canada uses raiseboring to recover ore. Some details: The raiseboring machine is located on the 530 meter level. From there a pilot hole is drilled down through the orebody into the tunnel on the 640 metre level. A 2.4 metres wide reaming head is attached and rotated as it is pulled up through the hole. Ore falls to the lower level and is transported to the underground processing circuit. The ore processing circuit is operated remotely using conventional technologies adapted to the underground environment and designed to provide increased radiation protection from the high-grade ore. Raises are backfilled once the ore has been extracted, using low-strength concrete fed from the upper chamber.

Questa Mine, New Mexico (Image: Molycorp)

Questa Mine in New Mexico uses raiseboring to prepare the ground for block caving.

Barrick's Kanowna Belle mine uses raiseboring to develop ventilation shafts and rock passes.

EduMine has a table that lists many more mines that include raises – see Table 5: Raise Projects in the course Underground Mining Methods and Equipment.


If you are planning a raiseboring operation, you will probably need to retain a skilled and suitably equipped contractor. Here are some:

AusMining Pty Ltd. who have recently purchased new Cubex Megamatic Orion D Drill fitted out with a heavy hoist package that is capable of raiseborings.

Berg Teamet: The company was founded by the Swedish construction company Skanska in 1974. Its main business is to improve and enhance mechanized shaft construction, and, with its own techniques, replace other dangerous methods. The company has grown and expanded internationally over this time and it has invested in 9 raise boring rigs, today reduced to 8, of various sizes and has an experienced staff of 24 people. The company operates independently and has customers all over the world. We have completed contracts in 34 countries on six continents. In December 2005 the company was acquired by the Swedish tunneling and shaft contractor Berg Teamet AB.

DMC Mining Services (DMC): DMC has a fleet of 10 raise boring machines, over 7,500 feet of drill pipe and 16 reamers with capabilities from 28 inch to 20 feet in diameter. The smallest drills operate in only 12 feet of headroom. Our raise drills have also been used to install an 8 inch paste fill line and a 7 foot by 1,100 foot steel liner with a combined hanging weight of 1,000,000 lbs. Since 1982 DMC has reamed over 250,000 feet domestically and internationally. DMC owns and operates a fleet of mechanized raise climbers which provide our customers with options for those applications where it is preferable.

Harrison Western Corporation whose capabilities include almost every aspect of mine development

Murray & Roberts specifically Cementation whose services include raise borings of large diameter ventilation and service raises, raise lining for ore and waste, and raise equipping for manways, hoisting, and services.

Raisebor has the people and the equipment to complete raiseboring projects including these: 6' diameter holes to a total depth of 2200 feet, 9' diameters to 1800 feet, 12' diameters to 1240 feet, and 16.5' diameters to 800 feet, just to mention a few

Stu Blattner"Stu Blattner is the largest Raise Bore Contractor in the United States and one of the largest in the world. The company was founded in 1980 and still operates with its original owners, Stu and Bruce Blattner. Currently there are 19 raise bore machines in their fleet, operating in South America, North America, and Africa."

Redpath Group

Redpath Group. They offer turn-key raiseboring services from management consulting, operations personnel and service technicians.

Thyssen Mining is a leading full service supplier of underground mine contracting services in North and South America. They supply services internationally through joint ventures in shaft sinking and raise boring.

Zereko Mining Contractors Limited Who could resist this invitation on their site: “Our Raiseboring personnel are available to assist your operation in catching up on backlog drilling or contract your blast hole production drilling. Whatever your drilling needs are we are ready to respond quickly and effectively!”

If you are doing it yourself, you may need raisebore drilling equipment. Here are some suppliers:

Atlas Copco



Torquato Drilling Accessories


Most consultants, I would have expected to, do not list raiseboring amongst their specialities. Ask your preferred consultant nevertheless. Here are some I found that do write about their raiseboring activities:

AMC Consultants: AMC’s underground team specializes in all aspects of underground mine planning, production and technical assessments. This includes specialists with technical and operating experience in mass mining methods such as caving.

Master Drilling (Pty) Ltd is based in the Fochville, + 80 km from Johannesburg in South Africa. The company was established in 1986 by Danie Pretorius, initially to address the raiseboring requirements of the surrounding Gold Mines situated in the far West Rand. Within 7 years, the company expanded its operations to mines in the various South African provinces. The Engineering Department employs a strong team of qualified engineers, designers and support staff using the very latest computer aided design and manufacturing equipment. The factory is capable of manufacturing or adapting existing raisebore machines to suit the requirements of the individual customer. Our Service Team provides a 24 hour support service.


Seems as though the Swedes are investigating raiseboring to create a place for high level nuclear waste. The volume at this link is enigmatic but worth the patience to read.

Raiseboring machines fail as described in this abstract:

This paper describes the investigation of the catastrophic failure of a raise boring machine used for underground reaming operations. The results of the investigation indicate that failure was due to the fracture of the 32 drive head bolts, 30 of which had failed as a result of corrosion-induced fatigue. Metallurgical examination confirmed that the bolts had been manufactured in accordance with the SAE J429 Specification. A number of recommendations have since been implemented by the mine, who has also introduced a quality system specifically for the control of drive head bolt sets. The equipment has now operated without problems for several years.

And I stopped looking at Google when I started to get sites talking about how boring it is to raise the stakes in a poker game.


Raiseboring - 1

Raiseboring - 2

Jaguar Mining

Raiseboring technique used in Production proces - McArthur River

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