The simplest form of soil excavation, Hand Mining is a method of constructing a tunnel in reasonably stable ground conditions. The tunnel must be large enough for personnel entry, and the tunnel face is manually excavated with hand held tools. With this method, obstructions can be manually removed from the tunnel face if they are encountered.

When faced with unstable soil conditions, a protective shield is usually required, which may have a forward projecting bib to provide additional face stability during soil excavation. Additional types of shields may be required as well, including an articulated shield or a fixed shield, depending on the project.

The advantages to the Hand Mining method are the simple operation and the capability of handling difficult and varying soil conditions. In addition, this method requires minimum workspace and can be used to install linings as small as 42 inches in diameter.

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