Principles of Stope Planning and Layout for Ground Control

MacMillan, P. W. ; Ferguson, B. A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Jack Spalding in Deep Mining, Chapter 3, states: "In deep mining, to start stoping an orebody without a definite plan of operations covering the whole extraction from beginning to end is to invite serious trouble. Any stoping without plan is bound to leave, toward the end, a number of pillars, remnants, or promontories, which, as they are reduced in size, are liable to fail and cause a general collapse. The object of stope planning is so to mine an orebody that at no stage in the operation is a remnant left. Definition: `When a block of ore is stoped in such a way that eventually a small piece is left entirely surrounded by stoping, that piece is termed an island remnant.' The design of and adherence to a plan of stoping is of greater importance in preventing rock bursts than the type of ground control adopted." This, of course, is just an example of the old axiom that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And in this context, mining does not have to be very deep before poor ground conditions, made worse by lack of good planning, force a mining company to resort to more expensive methods of ore recovery. At all times when rock pressures become excessive, stoping plans must be devised to avoid the creation of pillars or promontories. This is most readily recognized when mining deep narrow ore veins by open methods. It would be a little more general to say that stoping systems should seek to avoid or minimize localized concentrations of rock stress. Ore bodies, and particularly those at Falcon¬bridge, can reach large widths and leaving pillars for extraction at a later time cannot be avoided. However, good planning can reduce the effect of factors which create bad ground conditions. The necessary ingredients of planning are time and information: time to formulate and revise ideas; information, gained in exploration and early development, to provide the fullest knowledge of the ore body. In this way, plans become meaningful. It must always be kept in mind that the long-term results of good planning often require decisions not compatible with reaching earliest full production. PLANNING FOR DEEP MINING At Falconbridge Nickel Mines ore bodies presently being found and prepared for production lie at depths in excess of 610 m (2000 ft) below surface. Current un¬derground exploration is being directed towards favor¬able locations below 914.4 and 1219.2-m (3000 and 4000-ft) depths, at most mines. The Onaping Deep ore body has been traced to a depth of 1508.8 m (4950 ft) and at Falconbridge mine the ore body is under develop¬ment below the 5000 level. Planning for more efficient ground control has therefore become an important con¬sideration of future mining. HYDRAULIC BACK FILLING AND CUT-AND-FILL STOPING The advent of hydraulic back filling has led to the increasing use of flat-back cut-and-fill stoping methods during the last ten years, until it has probably become the commonest method of mining deep ore deposits in Canada. These methods account for almost all the pro¬duction from Falconbridge Mines at this time. The ad¬vantages claimed are: safety-a minimum of open ground; very little supplementary ground support (except rockbolted backs and walls); greater selectivity and flexibility in extraction (horizontal extension of the vein, high grade ore stringers going out into the walls); and high productivity and increased mechanization in larger ore widths. There is some difference of opinion as to whether hydraulic classified tailing back fill provides any great resistance to initial closure of the stope walls. The evi¬dence available suggests that it does not. Addition of portland cement to the back fill just prior to placement has produced a material having the properties of a weak concrete. It is confidently expected that this material will assist greatly in the efficient mining of pillars and generally in giving increased ground support to oppose closure. PRINCIPLES OF STOPE PLANNING BY LONGITUDINAL FLAT-BACK CUT-AND-FILL Again quoting from Spalding: "The practice of con¬trolling output by stopping and starting stopes is bad¬stopes once started should proceed without interruption, and control must therefore be obtained by altering the rate of stoping. It is therefore necessary that faces should normally advance at a medium rate which can be boosted, if required, to give temporarily a greater output. Modern high productivity stoping methods, however, generally aim to achieve and maintain the maximum output possible from a stope. Control of tonnage and grade, therefore, becomes a more complex problem requiring very careful scheduling and organiza¬tion. With the basic method of flat-back overhand stoping using hydraulic fill, it is not usually possible to mine in such a way as to avoid creating pillars." Consider an ore body as illustrated in Fig. 1. It is 274.3 m (900 ft) high by 228.6 m (750 ft) long on strike and averages 4.6 m (15 ft) in ore width. It rep¬resents approximately 907 000 t (1,000,000 st). The ore body could be mined by advancing one long single face through all the levels from bottom to top. A total face length of 228.6 m (750 ft) would accommo¬date five 45.7-m (150-ft) stopes. See Fig. la. Each of these stopes would produce approximately 1814 t/m (2000 stpm) and the ore body would require a period of ten years for complete extraction. A possible im¬provement to this scheme might be to stagger the indi¬vidual stope faces. See Fig. 1b. Problems of hanging wall failure can be reduced by this arrangement. From the point of view of reducing travelway maintenance, it is good practice to employ a stoping system of retreat. Stopes farthest from the shaft are mined first so that on completion, haulage drifts below can be aban
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