Shrinkage Stoping - Introduction to Shrinkage Stoping

Lyman, William
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL DESCRIPTION Shrinkage or shrinkage stoping refers to any mining method in which broken ore is temporarily retained in the stope to provide a working platform and/or to offer temporary support to the stope walls during active mining. Since ore "swells" when broken, it is necessary to shrink the muck pile a corresponding amount by draw¬ing some of the broken ore out as the stope is advanced-hence the name. Broken ore retained during stoping is drawn out after the stope has reached its limits. The stope may be left empty or may be filled with waste contemporaneous with, or subsequent to, the final draw. Traditionally the method implies conventional overhand stoping methods with miners working between the muck pile and the stope back, in a space which advances updip with mining and is maintained by balanc¬ing "swell" with "shrink." The shrinkage classification is also applicable to so-called "semishrinkage" methods in open pillar-supported stopes where broken ore is temporarily retained as a working platform but offers no wall support; and to various blasthole shrinkage methods which utilize broken ore temporarily retained in the stope for wall support, but which do not require miners to work from muck pile in the stope. The method is generally applied to steeply dipping veins of strong ore between strong walls. APPLICATION Geometry The geometry of a shrinkable vein is described in terms of dip, width, and regularity along dip. Overall strike and dip dimensions and irregularities along the strike generally impose no restrictions on the method. Dip is ideally 1.2 to 1.5 rad (70 to 90°). As dip falls below 1.2 rad (70°), the shrinkage draw begins to strongly favor the hanging wall side, thus leaving a poor working platform for conventional overhand work. This is particularly true in relatively wide stopes. The sup¬port afforded to the hanging wall also diminishes with decreasing dip, reaching nil as the dip approaches the repose angle of broken ore. Dips below 0.78 to 0.87 rad (45 to 50°) are not generally shrinkable except by open stope "seinishrinkage" methods. Minimum mining width is fixed by working space requirements in the stope-generally about 1 m. Shrink¬age in narrower veins requires that waste rock from one or both walls be broken with the ore and the attendant dilution accepted to achieve the minimum width. Nar¬row stopes are less suitable, encouraging hang-ups and bridging of broken ore, with the attendant problems of erratic draw and incomplete recovery of broken ore. Maximum practical width may be 3 m or less to over 30 m, depending upon the competency of the ore and its ability to stand unsupported across the stope back. This is a vital safety consideration in conventional over¬hand stopes, but is much less of a factor in blasthole shrinkage methods. Very wide veins and massive ore bodies have been mined by transverse vertical shrinkage panels separated by transverse vertical pillars which are either abandoned or recovered later by other methods. Regularity along the dip is a prerequisite of shrink¬age as there must be no serious obstruction to the flow of broken ore downward through the stope to the sill level. Gentle rolls along the dip are acceptable if the local footwall dip everywhere exceeds 0.78 to 0.87 rad (45 to 50°). Off-dip hanging wall and/or footwall splits can generally be mined selectively from a conventional shrink stope as they are encountered without ad¬versely affecting subsequent continuation of shrinkage mining updip on the main vein. Vertical offsets or major rolls along the dip which cannot be "smoothed over" generally require that a sublevel be established with new draw control development. Blasthole shrinkage methods are much less flexible (and thus less selective) in their ability to accommodate any of these irregularities. Ground Conditions The wall rock must be strong enough to stand with the minimal support afforded by the dynamic mass of broken ore in the stope. During active mining, local sloughing from the walls is restrained, but the broken ore affords little, if any, useful resistance to closure of the stope walls. Such squeezing, if present, may bind up the stope and cause the loss of much ore. Pillars left between and/or within stopes are effective in preventing closure but reduce overall recovery. Walls may be re¬inforced by bolting after each stope cut in conventional shrinkage but not in blasthole shrinkage. Ore in place must be strong enough to stand with no natural support across the stope width, although tem¬porary artificial support or reinforcement may be used locally in conventional stopes. Some spalling or sloughing is permissible in blasthole shrinkage as men are never present in the stope. Physical and/or mineralogical characteristics of the broken ore may impose restrictions on stope design and/or operational plan¬ning, and may even preclude the use of shrinkage al¬together. Examples include: ores which, when broken, are cohesive or which tend to pack or cement together under the influence of ground water, wall pressure, and/ or chemical reaction. Such conditions precipitate er¬ratic draw during mining and often result in difficult and/or incomplete final draw; pyritic ores which oxidize very rapidly in the stopes and may generate heat, imposing a fire hazard by spontaneous combustion; sulfide ores which oxidize sufficiently in the stopes to adversely affect mill recovery by flotation; and ores (es¬pecially those containing uranium minerals) which ex¬ude radon gas and thereby impose ventilation constraints on stope design. In most cases these problems can be minimized by limiting the size of stopes, by minimizing the duration of mining activity in each stope, and by promptly drawing each stope empty following comple¬tion of mining.
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