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Draw control strategy for sublevel caving mines: A probabilistic approach
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Mining and Geotechnical Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8264-1255
2018 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sublevel caving is an underground mass mining method used for extracting different types of ores from the earth crust. Mines using sublevel caving (SLC) as the primary mining method are generally highly mechanized with standardized and independent unit operations. Different unit operations (drilling, blasting, loading and transportation) are performed in isolation with each other which leads to standardized procedures and safe operation. Loading of the material from the production face in sublevel caving is facilitated by the flow of material under gravity into the production face. A large amount of material is loaded from a limited opening termed as the draw point which creates challenges for the mining method.

 

Material flow in SLC has been studied extensively in the past five decades and different methods have been used to simulate material flow in caving operations. Physical models of different scales has been designed for simulating material flow by using sand, gravel or rocks and studying the movement of material inside the model. Initial physical models showed an ellipsoidal zone above the draw point from which material flowed into the draw point. However, subsequent physical modelling results disagreed with this notion of material flow. Numerical modelling techniques have also been applied to simulate material flow. Currently, marker trials are being used to understand material flow in SLC. Markers (numbered steel rods, RFID enabled markers) are installed in boreholes drilled inside the burden of a production ring and based on the recovery sequence of markers, material flow is predicted. Results from physical models, numerical models and marker trials along with mine experience have been used in the past to optimize mine design and draw control for SLC operation. The results from latest marker trials highlight the chaotic nature of material flow and the unpredictability associated with material flow simulation.

 

In caving operations, draw control deals with the question of when to stop loading and regulates the loading process by providing the information on when to stop loading. The decision to stop loading a blasted ring and proceed to blasting the subsequent ring is a critical decision made in a SLC operation. If a draw point is closed early then ore is lost in the draw point which cannot be conclusively recovered at the lower levels and if delayed the mine faces greater dilution and increased mining costs. A study of the various draw control strategies used in sublevel caving operations globally has also been done to describe the present state-of-art. An analysis of the draw control and loading operations at the Malmberget and Kiirunavaara mines is summarized in the thesis using information collected through interviews, internal documents, meetings, and manuals. An optimized draw control strategy is vital for improving ore recovery and reducing dilution in SLC. Based on the literature review and baseline mapping study, a set of guidelines for designing a new draw control strategy has been listed. 

 

In the present scenario of fluctuating metal prices and increasing operational cost a new draw control strategy is needed which is probabilistic in nature and can handle the uncertainties associated with caving operations. A draw control model which is probabilistic in nature provide a scenario based solution and can be used to test different draw control strategy before performing mine test. A framework for a probabilistic draw control model along with its application for draw control optimization has been discussed here. An effective draw control requires a constant monitoring system and a constant calibration of the loading criteria’s through draw point monitoring for reducing dilution and improving ore recovery.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2018. , p. 60
Series
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
Keywords [en]
Draw control, sublevel caving, probability models
National Category
Engineering and Technology Other Civil Engineering
Research subject
Mining and Rock Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-67046ISBN: 978-91-7790-021-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7790-022-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-67046DiVA, id: diva2:1167252
Presentation
2018-03-01, F1031, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, Luleå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Improved resource efficiency through dynamic loading control
Funder
VINNOVA, 1832144Available from: 2017-12-18 Created: 2017-12-18 Last updated: 2018-08-31Bibliographically approved

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