Cut-and-Fill Stoping - Introduction to Open Cut-and-Fill Stoping

Waterland, Joel K.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL DESCRIPTION Open cut-and-fill stoping for many years was prob¬ably the most widely used mining method in under¬ground metal mines. Then for a time this method was largely supplanted by the blasthole stope. It again be¬came popular as many mines reached depths or grades where methods requiring large open voids to remain open for extended periods of time became unsuccessful, often as a result of excessive dilution. The open cut-and-fill method is very flexible and is readily adaptable to almost any ore body. The standard application requires that a slice of ore usually 2.4 to 3 m (8 to 10 ft) thick be removed from the back of the stope, and as the ore is taken down, the back is dressed and rockbolted. After the back is secured, the broken rock is removed through rock passes to the level below. When the rock has been removed, the rock passes are extended upward the height of the ore removed, the stope is backfilled, and another cycle is mined. This method is best employed in plunging ore bod¬ies with considerable vertical extent, ore areas that re¬quire selective mining, ore areas where weak wall con¬ditions exist, and ore bodies that have an ore value that will carry this relatively expensive mining method. Blast¬hole stoping, shrinkage stoping, and other mining meth¬ods that do not employ rock passes in a stope are not efficient in plunging or flatly dipping ore bodies because the footwall makes ore removal quite difficult. Since mining is accomplished by taking down slices of the back, only small areas of the wall rock are exposed at any one time, and these only for short periods. Due to limited back height, areas of uneconomic rock may be left in place, or they may be mined and the material gobbed in the stope. Because the miners in the stope must work under freshly blasted areas, the amount of ground control is usually great. The volume of rock that is broken during one section of mining is relatively small and the amount of nonproductive work required is high. This results in limited productivity for the scope and, be¬cause of the nonproductive work that must be done on a regular basis, the production from the stope may be quite cyclical. SUITABLE ORE BODIES The open cut-and-fill method may be adapted to al¬most any type of ore body with a relatively high vertical extent. The ore body must be accessible at both top and bottom as well as at regular intervals throughout its vertical extent. Although adaptable to most ore bodies, the method is probably best employed where the ore has poor con¬tinuity and where most types of bulk mining would pro¬duce excessive dilution. In areas of poor ore continuity, the capability of continuous and extensive sampling dur¬ing the mining of each cycle makes this method very desirable. This capability also minimizes the amount of evaluation sampling that must be done before mining is started. Because of the extractive system used, the size and shape of the stope may be as readily changed as the sampling mandates. Probably the only ore characteristic demanded is that the ore has strength enough to be sup¬ported through the use of rockbolts or cable bolts dur¬ing the mining and backfilling cycles. Good planning, systematic sampling, and careful supervision will pro¬duce a product with less dilution than any other open stoping method. PLANNING Evaluation Planning Once it has been decided that the open cut-and-fill method would be the most efficient for mining a par¬ticular ore body, the next considerations would probably be the availability of an economical backfill material and the selection of an efficient transport system for this material. Although hydraulically transported mill tail¬ings are the most widely used product, this is not always practical due to mill location or the quality of the tailings. In such cases, backfilling may be used. The type of backfill and the type of equipment used will determine if a floor or capping on the backfill is required to minimize dilution during ore removal. The early selection of rock removal equipment is im¬portant since equipment usually determines the amount of development work required to bring a stope into pro¬duction and the size of the openings needed. The size and continuity of the ore body will usually determine the type of loading equipment. The use of slushers or load¬haul-dump (LHD) equipment captive in the stopes will minimize the amount of development. If the ore con¬tinuity is such that a ramp system for extraction can be used, the cost of development will be increased but the flexibility of continuous mining will minimize the cycli¬cal nature of the production. The height of the mining section usually is deter¬mined by the strength of the wall rock and the amount of back bolting required. Once this has been decided, the appropriate drilling equipment can be chosen. The number and sizes of the rock passes employed depends upon the type and size of the extractive equipment and the type of backfill that is to be used. Since the miners must enter and leave the stope each shift, the level inter¬val is usually maintained at approximately 45 m (150 ft). Access from the level above into the stope must be main¬tained at all times. The employees perform all the work in the stope and adequate ventilation must be provided. Stope Planning Due to the flexibility of the method and the vari¬ability of the ore zones, layout is usually done on a stope basis. In areas where continuity is a problem, the size of the stope is usually determined by the boundary of the ore (with all of the ore within that boundary being removed). In areas of good continuity where ramps are to be used, the length of the stope may be determined by the length of time each of the cycles (preparation, back¬fill, mining, and ore extraction) requires. The ramp work is then laid out so that access to the various parts
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