Cost Analysis of Controlled Partial Recirculation of Mine Ventilation Air at Mount Isa Mines

Wu, Hsin Wei ; Gillies, A. D. S. ; Nixon, A. C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Ventilation and refrigeration strategies for the 3000/3500 orebodies, Mount Isa Mines, Australia were reviewed. The orebodies lie between 1,200 and 1,800 m below surface and are characterised by steep geothermal gradients, intensively mechanised stoping methods and high ambient air temperatures in summer. Providing acceptable working conditions under these situations is difficult and costly. The ventilation air quantity required in the 3000/3500 orebodies exceeds 550 m3/s when the production rate is greater than 2.5 million tonnes per year. The maximum quantity that can be supplied and exhausted using the existing intake and return ventilation system is estimated at about 630 m3/s. For production rates greater than 3 million tonnes per year, either new intake and return airways will need to be developed or innovative approaches such as controlled partial recirculation used. A description is given of technical and economic investigations conducted at Mount Isa into controlled partial recirculation. During these investigations, a major field trial of a controlled partial recirculation system was undertaken with results indicating that an acceptable working environment can be achieved practically and economically utilising this approach. The cost involved in controlled partial recirculation for supplying the required ventilation quantity when the production of 3000/3500 orebodies exceeds 3 million tonnes per year is examined. A cost comparison between recirculation and other conventional alternatives such as new surface shaft or underground booster fans is included. The results indicate that the option of a new surface shaft will incur a high initial capital cost and moderate annual operating costs. The alternative of underground booster fans will necessitate a moderate capital cost and very high operating costs. Controlled partial recirculation, in this case, offers both the lowest capital and operating costs of the three options evaluated.
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