Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
Sublevel caving is a highly mechanizable mass mining method normally utilized in large, steeply dipping orebodies. The fragmented ore flows freely, aided by gravity, down to the drawpoint while the surrounding waste rock caves in due to induced stresses and gravity. Fragmentation of the blasted ore is a vital component in any mining operation and directly affects productivity and efficiency of the following production steps (Nielsen et. al, 1996).
In an attempt to reduce mining induced seismicity in Malmberget, LKAB is initiating various trials. One of these trials involves a reduction in blasthole dimension and an increase in the number of blastholes utilized in each ring. A reduction in blasthole dimension is undertaken to achieve a less impactful mining operation in terms of disturbances to surface populated areas, particularly addressed to ground vibrations. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to analyse if fragmentation and production is affected as a consequence of this change.
This thesis sets out to evaluate how fragmentation and the LHD operation is affected by variations in blasthole dimension. The evaluation is carried out through analysis of logged production data, on-site filming of the loading sequence and interviews with the LHD operators. The discoveries will be presented chronologically to illustrate the complexities related to compiling a viable dataset to rely on for a credible analysis. The initial theory did not hold up properly and therefore the project was reshaped along the course of progression to provide further information and clarify uncertainties. Unfortunate, major production delays inhibited a quantitative comparison of two parallel drifts with different blasthole dimensions. Hence, no final answer can be provided in this thesis whether a change in blasthole dimension causes any differences in loadability and/or fragmentation or not. However, an analysis of how cycle times vary depending on causes such as operator induced differences, machine induced differences and road conditions will be provided. The field test also provides information on various loading scenarios and the difficulties connected to these.
The result obtained in this project mainly addresses the significant operator difference in terms of cycle times which can extend to, on average, 60% depending on experience, road conditions and, most likely, preferences amongst operators. Time differences amongst seemingly experienced operators can reach more than, on average, 30% in hauling time alone. Roughly 96% of the operators state that road conditions in the production area is the controlling factor for hauling speed. Many of the operators further states that the risk of injuries is directly related to road conditions and this is a likely cause to why cycle times vary in this magnitude. Fragmentation was found to affect loadability but not to the same extent as shape and looseness of the muck pile. Compaction of the muck pile and flow disturbances where normally found to be connected to one another. Hence, good loadability would indicate a low occurrence of flow disturbances and a continuous flow of material into the drawpoint.
This thesis is written as a part of the final stage of the civil engineering program at Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and represents 30 credits in the field of Soil and Rock Construction. The thesis is a part of a larger project, Face to surface, which sets out to analyse the impact of fragmentation on different stages in the production chain.
2016. , 57 p.