Sublevel Carving – Introduction

Cokayne, E. W.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE METHOD The original application of sublevel caving was in ground so weak that it would collapse even in small headings when the support was removed. Heavily tim¬bered drifts were driven across the ore body; the timber was removed at the end of the drift, and the ore caved and slushed out. When dilution became excessive the next set was removed and so on. This method gave high dilution and poor recovery and was slow, but it was the only way to mine this type of ore body at that time. In more recent times the method has been adapted to stronger ground which needs to be drilled and blasted, so it is not a caving method as far as the ore is con¬cerned. However, the method does rely on the walls to cave and so the name sublevel caving has been retained. The method as presently generally applied is shown in Figs. 1, 2, and 3. Sublevels are established at approximately 7.6 to 12.2-m (25 to 40-ft) vertical intervals. They are usually accessed from a ramp system. A haulage drift is driven down the strike of the ore body, but in the waste. Production drifts are turned off the haulage drift and driven across the ore body on about 10.7-m (35-ft) horizontal centers. This divides the ore body into a geometrical pattern. Slot raises are driven at the end of the drifts near the ore-waste contact and the slot is expanded to the shape of the fan drilling. Up holes are drilled to break towards the slot at burdens of 1.2 to 1.8 m (4 to 6 ft). They are drilled past the next sublevel to the production drift im¬mediately above. When a sufficient number of fans has been drilled, production can start by blasting one or two fans at a time towards the slot. Load-haul-dump (LHD) units are used to muck the ore, which rills out into the drift. At first, when only a small area is mined, the walls may not cave, and the operation will be similar to open stoping. Later, sloughing from the walls will fill any voids created, and the ore after blasting will be con¬tained by the caved waste and gravitate downwards as mucking proceeds. This process is repeated in each of the production drifts as the face is retreated towards the haulage drift. When the top level has been retreated back a safe dis
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