Sublevel Caving at Craigmont Mines Ltd.

Basse, R. A. ; Diment, W. D. ; Petrina, A. J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 18
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION In 1957, diamond drilling on a magnetic anomaly indicated an extensive zone of copper mineralization on what is now the Craigmont Mines property. By mid¬1958, drilling established a copper ore body. Milling commenced in September 1961 at 4536 t/d (5000 stpd) and by the end of October 1977 the mine had produced 339 662.04 t (374,363.9 st) of copper. At present, two-thirds of the mill feed is derived from underground operations and one-third from low-grade surface stockpiles. Craigmont Mines is situated 209 km (130 air miles) northeast of Vancouver (see Fig. 1), 16 km (10 miles) west of the town of Merritt, a logging, ranching, and mining community of about 7000 people. It is serviced by paved highways, Canadian Pacific Railway, British Columbia Hydro, and Inland Natural Gas Co. Water is pumped from the Nicola River, a distance of 6 km (4 miles) and a lift of 244 m (800 ft). In March 1967, the open pit mining operations at Craigmont Mines reached their economic limit and were suspended. Before this, it had been decided that a sub¬level caving method of underground mining would be used to supply ore to the concentrator after the cessation of open pit production. This chapter describes the fac¬tors influencing the choice of mining method, some of the problems encountered, mining practices, and results. GEOLOGY The ore bodies of upper Triassic age are located in a limy horizon striking east-west, closely paralleling the intrusive Guichon batholith, bounded on the south by rhyolites and on the north by graywackes, and dipping steeply to the south (Figs. 2a, b). The ore bodies are relatively narrow with a maxi¬mum width of 79 m (260 ft), a combined strike length of 853 m (2800 ft), and a vertical extent of 610 m (2000 ft). Chalcopyrite is virtually the only copper mineral, and 20% of the ore zone consists of acid solu¬ble magnetite and hematite. The area has been subjected to considerable faulting and brecciation, which is a major factor in the mining operation. Total geological reserves, at 0.7% Cu cutoff, for the deposit were 22 316 743 t (24,600,000 st) at 1.89% Cu. An additional 5 236 270 t (5,772,000 st) at 0.6% Cu were mined from the open pit. Ground Conditions The waste rocks-graywacke, andesites, and diorite -are relatively incompetent due to the high degree of fracturing and jointing, and all require varying degrees of support. The ore zones are somewhat less fractured; ground support is still required, however, although to a lesser extent than in the country rock. Ground conditions in the main ore body are better than in the smaller, nar¬rower ore bodies. Clayey fault gouge is present in most of the faults; gouge zones may be up to 6 or 9 m (20 or 30 ft) wide. The main ground problems are associated with local weakness rather than pressure. Shape of Ore Bodies (Figs. 2a, b and 3a, b) The main No. 1 ore body is approximately 244 m (800 ft) long and 46 m (150 ft) wide. It extends ver¬tically from the original top of the open pit at 4200 ele¬vation to just below the 3060 level. The No. 2 ore body is approximately 304 m (1000 ft) long, varies from stringer width at the extremities up to 79 m (260 ft) wide, and extends from 3060 level to 2400 level. Both these ore bodies have extensions re¬sulting in additional small irregular bodies. Ore bodies are mostly steep dipping, though part of the Wing ore body, an extension of No. 2 ore body, dips at 0.87 rad (50'). This ore body varies in size, but is approximately 122 m (400 ft) long, 21 m (70 ft) wide, and about 213 m (700 ft) high. No. 1 Limb ore body is a narrow extension of the No. I Main with a vertical extent of 137 m (450 ft), average width of 18 ft (60 ft), a strike length of 152 m (500 ft), and dips steeply at 1.4 rad (80°). No. 1 East is an eastern extension of the No. 1 Main with a vertical extent of 183 m (600 ft), a strike length of 91 m (300 ft), an average width of 30 m (100 ft), and dips at 1.2 to 1.4 rad (70 to 80°). No. 1 South is at the upper west end of the open pit with a vertical extent of 76 m (250 ft), a strike length
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