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|The Palabora open pit is scheduled to cease operations in 2002. While the ore body continues below the bottom of the final pit shell, the stripping ratio precludes further economic open pit mining. Palabora Mining Company has investigated various means of continuing copper production, and has determined that an underground mine is the best solution. Board approval to commence construction of the mine has been granted and shaft sinking is underway. First production is planned for the year 2000 and full production of 30 000 t/d will be achieved by the end of the year 2002. [ ] Mechanised block caving will be the mining method employed at Palabora. The cave will be initiated by excavating a thin horizontal slice known as the undercut. Removal of the undercut will induce stresses which cause the rockmass overhead to fracture. Fractured rock will gravitate through drawbells to drawpoints on the production level, and be loaded by LHDs for transport to crushers.|