Concrete for tunnels and underground structures

When building underground concrete structures such as tunnels, garages, sluices and more, you can use MagnaDense concrete for controlling buoyancy and overcoming issues with sound, vibration and hydraulic pressure.

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Magnus Johansson

Magnus Johansson

Business Development Manager - Americas Region

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High density concrete aggregate

Worldwide, engineers are seeking new and sophisticated tunnelling and underground structures solutions. They do so to limit ground-borne noise and vibration and overcome hydrostatic pressure, in an environment where there is limited space. Similarly, sub-level structures are looking for solutions to withstand natural groundwater pressure. Therefore, many projects can include our high density aggregate MagnaDense to solve this challenge when building underground.

Preventing vibration and noise from tunnels to surface

Crossrail, recently done in the UK, is a perfect example of where MagnaDense is the best fit in an area bound by many limitations. Because it is running beneath central London, the project encountered many constraints. Firstly, there is the challenge of the restricted volume of the tunnel, and secondly, the proximity of surrounding infrastructure, meaning space was limited.

Therefore, the solution was the construction of a High Density Floating Track Slab (FTS), utilising MagnaDense concrete. Due to the limited available construction space, they developed concrete that includes the heavy aggregate MagnaDense. And this is the most suitable option to prevent noise and vibration caused by the passing trains. Also, the project had to overcome many logistical challenges, primarily because the pumping site is within the city centre.

And finally, the Crossrail project saw the world’s first installation of a High Density Floating Track Slab. Additionally, it set a world record for pumping high density concrete. As a result, LKAB Minerals and partners got four nominations for the awards at the NCE Tunnelling Awards in 2017.

For more information about the project, or to hear about the technical details of this construction, you can listen to our Crossrail webinar.

Overcoming hydraulic pressure with heavy aggregate

The use of high density concrete in situations where there is a need to overcome hydrostatic pressure is not only limited to tunnelling projects. Therefore, you can also find this in more common constructions such as:

In a second section of the Crossrail project, they required high dense concrete for the first stage concrete works. This was due to the location’s proximity to the River Thames. Again, due to tunnel bore restrictions, additional weight was required in the concrete to overcome hydrostatic pressure.

Another project in the UK, namely North West London, was the construction of residential and commercial structures. Here, we supplied our MagnaDense for the contractor to produce high density concrete.  The heavyweight concrete acted as a weight creating a stable base above an existing sewer which is running directly below the construction site.

Other LKAB companies involved in tunnelling

Our sister-company, Swedish-based LKAB Wassara, another company within the LKAB group, is also working in the tunnelling construction industry. Their unique water-powered drilling hammer proves over and over again to work very well within this segment.

They know that tunnelling presents drilling challenges such as:

  • water-rich formations
  • high back pressures
  • requirements on the borehole (length, accuracy, etc.)
  • environmental concerns in sensitive areas

Therefore, Wassara drilling technology is the solution to these challenges and their customers use these successfully in many tunnelling applications over the years. Here are some examples:

Another team-member of the LKAB group is LKAB Berg & Betong. This is the company that among other things, sprays concrete in the LKAB mine tunnels to keep them save. Both Wassara and LKAB Berg & Betong supply their products to external commercial projects as well.

Benefits of dense concrete in underground constructions

Mined from our group owned resources in Northern Sweden, MagnaDense, manufactured from the natural iron oxide Magnetite, will always be of consistent quality. Via the large harbours of Narvik (Norway) or Lulea (Sweden), ships take the dense aggregate to our different stock locations around the world, or directly to your project. 
Building underground structures, tunnel building and underground buildings often benefit from a high density material. Furthermore, in many situations, high density concrete can even compete with well-known solutions such as rock anchoring or piling. Our sales team can help you identify the benefits in time, money and workflow for your underground building construction.
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