Recovery of Pillars Between Blasthole Shrinkage and Sublevel Stopes at the Pea Ridge Mine

Irvine, James C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
Pea Ridge Iron Ore Co., previously Meramec Mining Co., a joint venture by Bethlehem Steel Corp. and St. Joe Minerals Corp., mines and pelletizes iron ore at the Pea Ridge mine. The Pea Ridge property, now wholly owned by St. Joe, is located near Sullivan, MO, about 112 km (70 miles) southwest of St. Louis. The ore body was delineated in the mid-1950s by St. Joe during a lead exploration program. The first test holes drilled on the Pea Ridge magnetic anomaly revealed the presence of a large magnetite deposit; further drill¬ing in 1956 and 1957 confirmed that the ore body was minable. Meramec Mining Co. was incorporated in 1957 and shaft sinking began late in the year. Pro¬duction commenced in April 1964. The ore body is overlain by about 396 m (1300 ft) of flat-bedded sediments. It is tabular, about 792 m (2600 ft) long, and up to 182 m (600 ft) thick. It dips about 1.39 rad (80°) and is of unknown depth. The ore is mainly high grade magnetite with small zones of specular hematite. The wall rock is a Precambrian rhyolite porphyry. The mine was initially started with five major levels on 45-m (150-ft) intervals. Crosscuts were driven across the ore body on 58-m (190-ft) centers. Banks of stopes were mined between the crosscuts by a modi¬fied shrinkage stoping method (Fig. 1). This was done by undercutting a 12 m (40 ft) wide by 45-m (150-ft) long block and blasting horizontal "lifts" drilled on 1.5-m (5-ft) intervals. A 20-m (65-ft) sill was left between levels which contained the slushing drift, fin¬gers, crown pillar, and adequate thickness for support. By 1971 a "lattice" of pillars had been left and mining had progressed to the point that an orderly pillar re¬covery program was necessary (Fig. 2). INITIAL PILLAR RECOVERY PROGRAM The program was started in the upper western por¬tion of the ore body, furthest from the shafts. Due to the fact that the ore body narrows in the western extremity, the stope orientation was changed to mini¬mize required development. This left pillars 18 to 24 m (60 to 80 ft) wide and up to 79 m (260 ft) in length. The area selected for the start of the program had been developed between the uppermost level at 419 m (1375 ft) below surface and the 510-m (1675-ft) level. Due to the 91-m (300-ft) difference in depth, sublevels were driven on 15-m (50-ft) intervals and the ore was taken by rather classical sublevel stoping methods (Fig. 3). This left a structure with accesses compatible with drilling with 114-mm (41/2-in.) bore drifters mounted on columns. Most holes were drilled 63.5 mm (21h in.) diam and reamed to 100 or 127 mm (4 or 5 in.). Practical depth capability was about 21 m (70 ft) for holes above horizontal and 13 to 15 m (45 to 50 ft) for holes below horizontal. The interdependence of these long pillars necessitated that several of them be blasted simultaneously, making large blasts the only practical approach. Due to the required length of such loading cam¬paigns, it was necessary to select an explosive which could stand in the hole in an underground mine for a 4 to 6 week period. After some consideration a pump¬ able water gel was selected for both uphole and down¬hole loading. This afforded a high velocity, high density explosive which could be handled in large quantities. Loading the downholes was a fairly straightforward process. The holes were lined with an 8 mil polybutylene plastic sleeve and water gel was pumped into them with a double diaphragm pump mounted on the bottom of a stainless steel tub with a 81-kg (180-1b) capacity. Potential leakage into cracked areas of the pillar was
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