Climax Panel Caving and Extraction System

Gould, John C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL DESCRIPTION The Climax mine is located 161 km (100 miles) southwest of Denver on Fremont Pass astride the Con¬tinental Divide. Climax employs 2800 people to pro¬duce 42 670 t/d (47,000 stpd) of molybdenum ore. The Storke level, the main underground level, produces 19 970 t/d (22,000 stpd); the 600 level, the lowest ac¬tive underground area, produces 7260 t/d (8000 stpd); and the open pit presently produces 15 430 t/d (17,000 stpd), Fig. 1. A panel caving method is possible because of the favorable geology and geometry of the Climax ore body. Geology The Climax deposit is composed of three separate ore bodies formed in a massive Tertiary stockwork which penetrates Precambrian granites and schists. The ore bodies are elliptical in plan with overall dimensions of 914 x 1219 m (3000 x 4000 ft). In section the ore bodies are arcuate with an overall height of 457 m (1500 ft), although the depth is not firmly ascertained. Ore grade decreases rapidly into a highly siliceous cen¬tral core and more gradually toward the outer bounda¬ries of the deposit. The mineralization is relatively continuous in the ore zone and contains few dilution-causing waste inclusions. Molybdenite is contained in pre-ore fractures which were largely recemented during the three mineralization pulses. Postore fractures, with a spacing of a few inches to several meters (feet), render the deposit amenable to caving when it is undercut. The peripheral rock caves similarly to the ore, but the central core is competent and is difficult to cave. Caving Feasibility Successful caving action requires an undercut area of approximately 122 by 122 m (400 by 400 ft). When the undercut area exceeds this minimum distance, the arching effect is lost, and the ore column collapses. Ore extensions from the main cave area less than 122 m (400 ft) wide usually cannot be caved. Waste or low¬grade areas within the deposit can be left if they are large enough to carry weight around openings passing through them. Experience indicates that these areas should be over 30 m (100 ft) in length and width. Smaller unprofitable units of waste, such as postore dikes, are mined to avoid weight problems and result in ore dilution. Successful caving and ore recovery are dependent upon timely ore removal from the undercut zone because columns of immobile ore inhibit caving and concentrate weight onto the underlying workings. Climax experience indicates that a finger (drawpoint) spacing* averaging 10.4 m (34 ft) yields an excellent caving action and a 92.5% ore recovery at the estimated grade. An additional 15% of the ore is recovered-at a diluted grade (Fig. 2). Mine Layout The slusher drift is the primary production facility (Fig. 3). The ore is undercut and caved into the fingers,
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