Feasibility of in-Pit Crushing and Conveying of Waste Rock at Mt Whaleback Mine

Hedge AS,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Mt Whaleback is one of the largest open-cut iron ore mines in the world. Haulage cost is the single largest component of operating costs at the mine. Past studies towards alternatives to truck haulage have recognised the potential viability of an in-pit crushing and conveying system, dependent on the proportion of uphill haulage. After seventeen years of mining Mt Whaleback still contains more than 1,000 million tonnes of ore, needing 1,800 million tonnes of waste removal to extract it. What was once a quarry has now turned into a large open pit. The increasing proportion of uphill haulage, the need to replace ageing 120 ton and 200 ton trucks and the necessity of achieving and maintaining a higher stripping ratio prompted, in 1984, the initiation of a new feasibility study into the viability of alternative material handling systems. A semi-mobile in-pit crushing and conveying system was found to be most suited to Mt Whaleback conditions. The East Pit was selected as the best location based on the analysis of haulage profiles measured on long term incremental mine plans. A capacity of 22 million tonnes per year was considered achievable by the proven technology currently available. A detailed estimation of capital and operating costs of two systems - one with trucks only and another with trucks, crusher and conveyor - for the removal of 22 million tonnes per year of waste rock, showed substantial cost savings achievable by the proposed system. An economic evaluation of the two systems established the advantages of constructing the in-pit crushing and conveying system. This is now under construction and will be commissioned in early 1987. Experience gained in constructing and operating this installation is expected to influence decisions on similar installations in future.
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