Cost Estimation for Sublevel Stoping-A Case Study *

Richardson, A. J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
Before the development of the underground stoping and mining costs can be considered, certain facts about the ore body, the proposed mine, markets, etc., must be known or determined. In the case to be studied, the zinc-lead mineralization occurred with a narrow vertically dipping structure of undetermined length and vertical extent. Exploration completed to date has revealed 6.5 mil¬lion st t of proven reserves. A further 820,000 st of in¬dicated reserves has been outlined and this tonnage is considered capable of being expanded by a factor of approximately four after more detailed drilling. After studying the market conditions and completing a very preliminary feasibility study, it was decided that production would be 730,000 stpy (or 2000 stpd) of ore. First year production would be at the rate of 1500 stpd. The main design criteria for the selection of the min¬ing methods are minimizing surface subsidence, maxi¬mum recovery of the ore body, maximum degree of grade control, maximum productivity, and safe working conditions. Two basic extraction systems are considered capable of meeting these requirements: mechanized cut¬and-fill stoping and sublevel long-hole stoping with filling. The primary development system of the mine has been designed to give maximum flexibility in stoping systems and layout and to permit changes if considered necessary as a consequence of actual production ex¬perience. At the present time, access to the mine is by a circu¬lar concrete lined vertical shaft, 16 ft diam, sunk to a depth of 1380 ft. Two exploration levels have been driven within the ore zone at depths of 165 and 1246 ft below the surface outcrop. The development to date had the objective of sampling the mineralization and produc¬ing detailed information on the outline of the ore body and the distribution and controls of zinc and lead values. In an attempt to satisfy the basic design criteria for the mine, it was decided that production would be best achieved by a combination of 40% sublevel long-hole stoping and 60% cut-and-fill mining. Costs of exploration and capital development of per¬manent underground facilities are normally written off over the life of a mine. Production expenditures, on the other hand, are of a temporary nature and are normally charged as and when incurred as an operating expense. Reasonably accurate predictions of mine production costs can be built up from engineering design and estimates of individual mine activities for ultimate inclusion in the comprehen¬sive data required for financial decision making. The simulated operations can be costed on a detailed basis in the form of a monthly operating budget. The budget format can be generalized or detailed, depending upon the scope of the project. However, ex¬perience suggests that a fairly detailed format has the advantage of assuring that all significant cost items are included. For underground costing it is suggested that the budget structure include five major cost centers (i.e. development, diamond drilling, ore extraction, hoisting/ transportation, and general mine expense). These in turn are detailed under numerous subheadings. The mechanism for compiling an operating budget will be illustrated. Because of its relative simplicity, ore extraction under sublevel long-hole stoping has been chosen for illustration. All other activities, simple or complex, can be estimated in similar fashion. BLOCK AND STOPE DEVELOPMENT Long-hole blocks, used where advantageous, will be up to 250 ft in height, depending upon the vertical con¬tinuity of the mineralization, and approximately 300 ft long. Drawpoints will be at 36-ft intervals and serviced by loading crosscuts driven from a footwall drift parallel to and close to the ore zone. Pillars between the stopes will be 50 ft wide. Stopes will be drilled off with vertical rings of blastholes drilled from sublevels approximately 60 ft apart vertically. This drilling will be done by percussion drilling machines (31/2 in.) mounted on a trackless drilling rig. Load¬haul-dump (LHD) equipment will be used to move broken ore from the drawpoints to the orepass connecting to rail haulage systems. On completion, long-hole stopes will be backfilled to prevent caving and to facili¬tate later pillar removal. From a planned stope layout, a forecast of produc¬tion and development is made in Table 1. Table 1. Block Tonnage and Stope Development Quantity Ore Waste Total ore block 375,000 st 2 stopes 310,000 st 1 pillar 65,000 st Access crosscuts, 4 at 100 ft 400 ft Drill sublevel drifts, 6 at 300 ft 1800 ft Stope raises, 3 at 250 ft 750 ft Undercut sublevel drifts, 2 at 300 ft 600 ft Loadout crosscuts at 35-ft intervals 550 ft 100 ft 3300 ft 500 ft Total development footage 3800 ft Tons per ft of development 987 st
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