The Design Of Stable Stope Spans For Shallow Mining Operations

Swart, A. H.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2005
Unplanned stope panel collapses occur on most near-surface and shallow mines in South Africa. Although these incidents often occur during blasting, they pose a major threat to the safety of underground workers and the economic extraction of orebodies. Most stope panel collapses occur due to excessive panel lengths (resulting in excessive stope spans) that are not designed according to a systematic design procedure or methodology. Instead, panel lengths are often dictated by the equipment in use and by previous experience under similar conditions. Hence, a rock engineering design methodology for the design of stable stope panels between pillars is of vital importance for optimum safety and production in shallow mining operations. Using the proposed design methodology described in this paper, rock mechanics practitioners and mine planners should be able to identify and quantify the critical factors influencing the stability of stope panels. The critical factors should then be used as input to the design of stable stope panels that will provide the necessary safe environment for underground personnel working in stopes. The proposed design methodology is an iterative process, which includes aspects such as rock mass characterization, estimation of rock mass properties, identification of potential failure modes, consideration of appropriate stability analyses and other elements of the rock engineering design process. This process continues after implementation. During monitoring, new data should be included in the database and the design process repeated on a regular basis. Design approaches included in the proposed design methodology include empirical methods such as different rock mass classification methods, analytical methods such as elastic and Voussoir beam analyses, kinematic analyses, probabilistic analyses, and numerical analyses. Keywords: stability, stope panels, design methodology, hardrock mines, shallow mining operations
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