Stress Induced Damage In Tunnels In A Cave Mining Environment In Kimberlite

Bartlett, P. J.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Premier Diamond Mine exploits a kimberlite orebody using cave mining methods. A drilling level is established at the base of a block of ore to effect undercutting that leads to caving of the overlying ore. A second level is developed some 15 metres below the undercutting level to allow extraction of the ore once it has caved. As much as 45 per cent of the rock is removed on the extraction level creating a series of pillars. Undercutting creates abutment stresses, as high as 3 times the virgin stress, which affect the rock mass to a distance of 20 metres from the undercut face on the undercut level and on the extraction level 15 metres below. If the extraction level is completely developed prior to undercutting, where stress levels exceed 20 percent of the rock mass strength, extensive rock mass and support damage occurs as the undercut passes overhead. Rock mass damage takes the form of movement along existing joints and minor shear failure through intact rock. Support damage takes the form of cracking in rigid concrete linings. Where induced stresses exceed 50 per cent of the rock mass strength it is often impractical to keep excavations on the extraction level open. Rock mass damage takes the form of extensive failure of the rock in shear which evidences itself as propagation of the fracture zone around tunnels and footwall heave. Support damage results in destruction of shotcrete linings and concrete footwalls. As the interbolt support fails, badly fractured rock ravels around the steel tendons. Observation and monitoring at Premier Mine and on other cave mines has shown that induced stress levels and consequent damage are a function of :?the extraction ratio on the undercut and extraction level prior to undercutting ?the shape of the undercut face ?the rate of undercut advance ?the distance of leads and lags between adjacent tunnels on the undercut level. To ensure the stability of excavations, all of the above parameters must be carefully planned and the planned mining sequence rigidly enforced. The minimum of development is completed on the extraction level prior to the undercut passing overhead. Required development is then rapidly completed once the area has been de-stressed. Support is installed in three phases: ?Rockbolts are installed as soon as excavations are developed ?Wire mesh, steel tendon straps and a layer of shotcrete sufficient to protect the mesh and straps from damage by blasting and LHD loading is installed as soon as practical thereafter. Inevitably the shotcrete lining has to be replaced once the undercut has passed overhead.. ?Rigid shotcrete linings and concreted footwalls are completed only after the undercut has passed overhead and the area has been de-stressed.
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