Excavation Design and Mining Methods in the 1100 Ore Body, Mount Isa Mine, Australia.

Hornsby, Brian ; Sullivan, B. J. K.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 13
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Mount Isa Mines Ltd. operates a copper and silver- lead-zinc property at Mount Isa in northwest Queens- land, Australia. Mount Isa is located in the tropics at latitude 20°43'S and longitude 139°30’E (Fig. 1). It is on the upper watershed of the Leichhardt River and at an elevation of 365 m above sea level. The average rain- fall is 360 mm/y, the greater part of which falls in January to March (the hot summer months). The mean summer temperature for these months is 30°C (dry bulb), with a maximum temperature of 43°C; the mean wet bulb temperature is 25°C with a maximum of 28°C. Mount Isa is located geologically towards the western edge of the Precambrian Shield of northwestern Queensland. This complex forms a north-tilting dissected peneplain which extends in the north-south direction for 640 km, with widths varying from 32 km to 190 km. The combination of differential erosion, regional strike, and steep dips has produced a corrugated topography of low north-south orientated hills and valleys. The field was first discovered in 1923 as a silver- lead-zinc field. Mount Isa Mines Ltd. was formed the following year and subsequently became the sole operating company on the field. Lead and copper ore have been mined and treated separately and simultaneously at Mount Isa since 1953. Intensive exploration commenced in 1954 and an active exploration program provided the justification for a series of production expansion programs in both silver- lead-zinc and copper (see Table 1 ). The most recent and largest production expansion program at Mount Isa commenced when a decision was reached in December 1969 calling for an increase in copper production from 100 000 to 150 000 t/y of blister copper. A major factor which influenced this decision was the substantial additions to the ore reserves in the so-called 1100 ore body which is a massive copper sulfide ore body with a known strike length of approximately 2500 m, a height which is variable up to 300 m, and a width of generally 300 m up to a maximum of 370 m (see Figs. 2 and 3). Host to the copper mineralization is a complex and variable rock generally called "silica dolomite." The ore body strikes 6.02 to 6.1 rad (345° to 350°), dips west between 0.78 and 1.13 rad (45° and 65°), and is truncated at depth by fault implaced basement rocks. It first occurs some 600 m below the surface and bottoms at about 1000 m below the surface. The unconfined compressive strength of the silica dolomite ore varies from 150 to 250 MPa, whereas the basement rocks, carbonaceous mylonite, slaty shale, buck quartz, and greenstone (a chloritic schist) are considerably weaker, varying in strength from 20 to 80 MPa. The distribution of mineralization within the ore body is variable, but can be considered as generally high grade at or just above the basement contact and diminishing towards the upper reaches of the ore body. The current
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