Sublevel Caving Practice at Shabanie Mine, Rhodesia

McMurray, D. T.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Shabanie mine, situated some 180 km east of Bula¬wayo, has been a producer of chrysotile asbestos for more than 50 years. The ore bodies occur in serpentinized dunite, which overlies talc-carbonate schist. A zone of relatively competent rock of varying thickness occurs between the schist and the ore bodies, which are gen¬erally less competent. The hanging wall of the ore bodies is economic, and the hanging-wall serpentine carries a variable subeconomic amount of fiber. It is important to note that, in general, the ore body competence is less than that of the foot and hanging-wall formations. Historical After surface operations ceased, cut-and-fill stoping was used to win ore from underground; this was success¬ful until the increasingly stoped-out area caused insta¬bility in the stope pillars and back. Consequently, dur¬ing the early 1950s, a gradual change to cave-mining methods was made, the ore being won by hand lashing in drawpoints, situated in the basement of the stope blocks, and passed through orepasses under gravity to the haulage level some 13 m below. About this time, interest was focused on the sub¬level caving method in use in Swedish iron ore mines: it was felt that it might be applied economically to the Shabanie ore bodies. Accordingly, in 1958, an experi¬mental stope block was laid out in which sublevel inter¬vals and extraction tunnel spacing were 9 m. The tun¬nels (ring drilling drives) were oriented on strike-in contrast to the Swedish system, in which crosscuts that retreat from hanging to footwall are used. The advantages of the method were quickly appre¬ciated by the operating personnel and, despite the in¬evitable teething troubles pertaining to the introduction of any new mining method, it was not long before sub¬level caving was providing a high proportion of the mill feed. The disadvantages also became apparent at an early stage, however, and, from that time to the present, continuing modifications have been made to mining lay¬outs in an effort to improve ore recovery. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF METHOD The mine is served by a vertical hoisting shaft, in which two skips, a man cage and a service cage, provide adequate capacity for production requirements. The rock hoist is a Ward Leonard control hoist, in which two electric motors drive a common gearbox. The man winder is driven by an a-c motor. Several auxiliary shafts provide secondary egress and intake and return ventilation. Main haulage levels are above (Fig. I a and b). Blasthole fan patterns are drilled by drifters of 100 mm bore, drilling 41-mm holes; when a sufficient strike length has been drilled, a slot is cut in the upper¬most sublevel and the rings are broken into the slot. Initially, a limited tonnage is drawn, since it is essential to ensure that the hanging wall caves behind the retreat¬ing stope face. Once this has been established, maxi¬mum tonnage can be drawn, as described later in this chapter, under the heading "Draw Control." The broken rock is loaded by 0.14 and 0.20-m3 load¬ers into cocopans (rocker-dumping type of tipping truck), which are hand trammed to orepasses, discharg¬ing on the haulage where 11-t electric trolley locomo¬tives haul 3.95-m3 Granby cars to the main shaft bins. As is evident from Fig. 1, the layout is simple, the block is brought rapidly into production, there is a high degree of selectivity and flexibility, and the result is a low-cost high-productivity mining method. DEVELOPMENT Main haulages are developed at 3.2 x 3.2 m, and once the service winze connections have been completed the development of the sublevels is undertaken. The footwall drives are cut first, to obtain access to the block. These ends are of the standard section, 2.4 x 2.8 m, and from them crosscuts at intervals of 70 m are driven through the ore body to the hanging wall. These crosscuts are used to supplement the geo¬logical information previously obtained from diamond core drilling, and they provide additional and more de¬tailed data on fiber percentages and lengths, structural features, and other relevant criteria which are used to build up the geological assessment of the area and to classify it in terms of the geomechanics rock classification (Laubscher and Taylor, 1977). The crosscuts also allow the necessary orepasses to be sited conveniently so that tramming distances from the loading points are not excessive. Development Drilling Once the skeleton development has been completed, the extraction headings are developed at 2.4 x 2.4 m as shown in Fig. 1. Standard development practice is to use crews of a machine operator and his helper, equipped with air-leg mounted jackhammers, to drill rounds of 1.8 m with integral tungsten carbide tipped drill steel. The round drilled is a normal drag round, as shown in Fig. 2, but considerable attention is paid to the drilling of the perimeter holes to use effectively the
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