General Mine Planning

Bullock, Richard L. ; Kennedy, Bruce
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 25
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
Vince Lombardi once said, "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." When it comes to building a mine that will operate at the optimum level for the set of geologic conditions from which it was developed, Lombardi's remark might be paraphrased to describe the problem: planning won't guarantee the best possible mine operation unless it is the best possible mine planning. Any sacrifice in the best possible mine planning introduces the risk that the end results may not reach the optimum mine operation desired. This section addresses many of the factors to be considered in the initial phase of mine planning. These factors have the determining influence on the mining method, the size of the operation, the size of the mine openings, the mine productivity, the mine cost, and, eventually, the economic parameters used to determine whether or not the mineral reserve even should be developed. A little-known fact, even within the metal-mining community, is that room-and-pillar mining accounts for most of the underground mining in the united States. According to a 1973 study on noncoal mining (Anon., 1974), more than 76% of the producing mines [of over 1089 t/d (1200 stpd) capacity] produced approximately 70 000 000 t (77,000,000 st) or 60% of the nation's underground tonnage of material by room-and-pillar mining. That same year, 96.8% of the nation's under- ground coal mines produced 262 950 000 t (289,911,000 st) of coal extracted from room-and-pillar mines (Anon., 1976). Thus, nearly 333 000 000 t (367,000,000 st) of the United States' raw material is produced from mines using some form of the room-and-pillar mining system. Because approximately 90% of all mining in the United States is done by some variation of room-and- pillar mining, it is appropriate to give special emphasis to the effects of the various elements of mine planning on room-and-pillar mining. The relationship of these elements to other mining methods will become apparent as the elements are described in later sections herein. TECHNICAL INFORMATION NEEDED FOR PRELIMINARY MINE PLANNING Assuming that the reserve to be mined has been delineated with diamond-drill holes, the items listed in the following paragraphs need to be established with respect to mine planning for the mineralized material. Geologic and Mineralogic Information The geologic and mineralogic information needed includes the following: 1) The size (length, width, and thickness) of the areas to be mined within the overall area to be considered, including multiple areas, zones, or seams. 2) The dip or plunge of each mineralized zone, area, or seam, noting the maximum depth to be mined. 3) The continuity or discontinuity within each of the mineralized zones. 4) Any swelling or narrowing of each mineralized zone. 5) The sharpness between the grades of mineralized zones within the material considered economically minable. 6) The sharpness between the ore and waste cutoff, including whether this cutoff can be determined by observation or must be determined by assay or some special tool; whether this cutoff also serves as a natural parting resulting in little or no dilution, or whether the break between ore and waste must be induced entirely by the mining method; and whether or not the mineralized zone beyond (above or below) the existing cutoff represents submarginal economic value that may be- come economical at a later time. *7) The distribution of various valuable minerals making up each of the minable areas. 8) The distribution of the various deleterious minerals that may be harmful in processing the valuable mineral. 9) Whether or not the identified valuable minerals are interlocked with other fine-grained mineral or waste material. 10) The presence of alteration zones in both the mineralized and the waste zones. Structural Information (Physical and Chemical) The needed structural information includes the following: * 1 ) The depth of cover. 2) A detailed description of the cover including: the type of cover; * the structural features in relation to the mineralized zone; * the structural features in relation to the proposed mine development; and * the presence of and information about water, gas, or oil that may be encountered. 3) The structure of the host rock (back, floor, hanging wall, footwall, etc.), including: * the type of rock; * the approximate strength or range of strengths; * any noted weakening structures; * any noted zones of inherent high stress; noted zones of alteration; the porosity and permeability; * the presence of any swelling- clay or shale interbedding; the rock quality designation (RQD) throughout the various zones in and around all of the mineralized area to be mined out; the temperature of the zones proposed for mining; and the acid generating nature of the host rock. 4) The structure of the mineralized material, including all of the factors in item 3 plus: * the tendency of the mineral to change character after being broken, i.e., oxidizing, degenerating to all fines, recompacting into a solid mass, becoming fluid, etc.; * the siliceous content of the ore; the fibrous content of the ore; and the acid generating nature of the ore. Economic Information The needed economic information includes: *1) The tons of the mineral reserve at various
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