Sublevel Caving at Granduc

Hancock, Frederick T. ; Mattson, Ralph S.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL DESCRIPTION The Granduc mine is situated on the west side of Granduc Mountain in the Leduc River area of north¬west British Columbia about 51 km (32 miles) north¬east of the town of Stewart. Entry is by means of a 16.6-km (10.3-mile) long haulage adit from the concentrator site at Tide Lake. The principal ore mineral is chalcopyrite. Ore mineralization varies from dis¬seminated to irregular semimassive stringers generally associated with highly folded and sheared biotite-rich sections of metasediments. The ore bodies vary in width from 3.6 m (12 ft) to over 18 m (60 ft) in a zone some 800 m (2600 ft) in length dipping at an average of 75° to the west and plunging steeply to the south. Capping varies in thickness from 0 to over 300 m (1000 ft). SELECTION OF MINING METHOD In the early stages of planning the primary require¬ments to be met by the mining method were: (1) suit¬ability to high output and productivity, (2) adaptability to mechanization in order to minimize operating costs, and (3) minimization of the costs and the development period for preproduction. Considering these, the selection of a mining method was narrowed to a choice be¬tween sublevel long-hole stoping or sublevel caving. A method utilizing backfill was ruled out as uneconomical, especially since mill tailings would not be readily available. At the time, the following facts about the ore body were recognized: (1) the average width of the ore body was 12 m (40 ft), (2) 30% of the stoping blocks were in areas of 6 m (20 ft) or less in width; (3) in many cases, ore zones were located in parallel lenses or were irregular in shape; (4) major faults were present in the hanging wall close to the ore, with minor faults within the different ore zones; and (5) the ore itself was lami¬nated with fractures and jointing crossing such bedding planes. Considering these factors, the two stoping meth¬ods were compared. Sublevel Open Stoping The characteristics of sublevel open stoping are: 1) It is generally not used for widths below 6 m (20 ft) since the ratio of waste development increases as level intervals are reduced to insure good control of long-hole drilling. 2) This method is used where ground is relatively competent. Otherwise more pillar support is required, increasing ore losses or mining costs with pillar recovery. 3) The method is not easily adaptable to parallel ore zones separated by relatively narrow waste bands. 4) Close control of pillar and stope design will per¬mit some degree of dilution control. Sublevel Caving Sublevel caving is characterized by the following: 1) The method can be used for a variety of ore widths, recognizing that 3 m (10 ft) in width may be an economical minimum. 2) It is particularly favorable where wall rock is weak. 3) The method has flexibility so that irregular ore bodies or parallel lenses can be mined. 4) The need to leave pillars for support is eliminated 5) Dilution and tonnage recovery are interrelated. With concern about the stability of the hanging wall and the geometry of the ore bodies, there was a growing favor to choose the sublevel caving method. However, this method was relatively new to Canadian mining practice. Teams were sent to Sweden to tour mines using sublevel caving and to study their methods and any extraction and dilution problems. The objective was to develop cost and performance data and ore recovery grades and tonnages for feasibility comparisons. Next, detailed mine plans were developed covering a three-year period using sublevel caving and sublevel open stoping. Extensive analyses of the development and production costs for each method were made. With sublevel caving, ore losses of 10% with a 20% dilution rate were used. The same ore loss was estimated for sublevel open stoping with dilution varying from 11 to 15%. As a result of these studies, the decision was made to use sublevel caving partly because slightly lower op¬erating costs, together with higher productivity, offset the adverse effects of higher dilution; and partly be¬cause, at the start, there would be less risk in being able to handle the ground, and the method offered more flexi¬bility. Open stoping was not ruled out for testing at a later date. It was recognized that some other method of mining would be required for mining the ore extensions below the glacier, where surface subsidence must be avoided. During the operating life of the mine, open stoping was tested in narrow width ore zones and found un¬satisfactory due to wall failure. A cut-and-fill stope, utilizing run-of-mine waste from development, was also operated on a trial basis. A sequence was finally estab¬lished that permitted ground control; however, produc¬tivity needed considerable improvement in order for open stoping to be considered as a sole alternative for mining below the main haulage level. At the termination of operations in June 1978 over 13 000 000 t (14,500,000 st) had been extracted from above the main haulage level at production rates varying from 3270 to 7250 t/d (4000 to 8000 stpd). Sublevel Caving Methods Two basic methods were used, transverse and longi¬tudinal. The transverse method was used mainly in the upper C ore body in widths greater than 18 m (60 ft), and occasionally as an alternative to the longitudinal method in localized areas where strike faulting inter¬fered with normal development. The longitudinal method was used in ore bodies varying in width from 3.6 to 18 m (12 to 60 ft), with a multilongitudinal varia
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