A Long Hole Stoping System For Mining Narrow Platinum Reefs - Introduction
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Jan 1, 2002
In South African metalliferous mines, stoping operations are largely confined to narrow, tabular orebodies making mechanization extremely difficult. Limited flexibility in terms of stope width has necessitated drilling by means of handheld, pneumatic rock drills at most of our operations. As the largest producer of platinum in the world, we drill in excess of forty million stope blast holes per annum. Cleaning of the broken ore is also done by conventional means?utilizing scrapers and scraper winches. Conventional methods such as these carry high costs in terms of risk exposure as well as labour intensity. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a long hole stoping system suitable for the narrow platinum reefs. The new system had to be substantially safer and more cost effective than conventional mining. We selected a site that was conducive to mechanized mining and set out the parameters that we considered would meet our requirements. We then conducted a feasibility study to evaluate the conceptualized long hole stoping system in terms of specific goals. An analysis of the proposed system identified the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). One of the most critical goals was to be able to create a man-free stope. This would mitigate the safety risk associated with normal stoping operations, as well as the inefficiency cost previously referred to.