Caving Operations Drift Support Design

Kendorski, Francis S.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION Drift design problems in caving operations are a re¬sult of the geologic factors contributing to the overall success of the system, of the engineering factors dictated by economic and technical considerations, and of ore production practices. Combining these factors, a rational underground sup¬port system of rock reinforcement, light steel channel section or welded wire fabric, and shotcrete can be de¬signed based on rock fracturing, rock load, abutment loadings, ground movement, expected repair and desired flexibility. The design concept uses the effect achieved by restraining, reinforcing, and maintaining some of the intrinsic strength of the fractured rock mass composed of interlocked blocks of intact rock and rock fractures. Three different examples of drift support design in hypo¬thetical mines using the caving system are given. Caving is a system of underground mining where ore is extracted by means of gravity after the ore body is allowed to fail by removing support from underneath. The rock mass of the ore body fractures and flows ver¬tically downward to let gravity do as much work as pos¬sible. Caving differs from many other mining systems in that blasting is used only to initiate the rock mass failure by removing the rock supporting the ore but not to break the ore itself. The initial movement of the rock mass dur¬ing failure and the consequent crushing and grinding during the continued movement serve to reduce the ore to particles of a manageable size, with only limited sec¬ondary blasting necessary. The broken ore is extracted from the bottom of the failed rock mass through funnels of some sort pre-excavated in the rock. Ore extraction must continue or the swell of the broken rock will even¬tually fill the cavity and stop further rock mass failure and movement. The excellent general discussion on block caving in the SME Mining Engineering Handbook (Julin and Tobie, 1973) adequately covers the principles and application of this type of underground mining. Many rock mechanics aspects of block caving have been covered by others (McMahon and Kendrick, 1969; Swaisgood, et al., 1972; Mahtab and Dixon, 1975; King, 1946) and will not be reviewed further. Maintaining the stability of production drifts is one of the most troublesome problems plaguing the mine manager in a caving operation. Many factors contrib¬ute to drift support problems, and identifying the causes of instability and producing a reasonable support design are two steps toward achieving stability consistent with the mine plan. This chapter sets forth a technique for the design of support systems for production drifts in caving opera¬tions. The basic support system elements employed are rock reinforcement, welded wire fabric, and shotcrete. Recognized as contributing to the design are the factors of rock load, additional load from mining activity, rock fracture characteristics, repair expected, and flexibility. It must be emphasized that the drift must first be stabilized as for a tunnel, and the additional strengthen¬ing for mining-induced loads cannot contribute to the initial premining stabilization, or the reserve of strength is used up. MINE PLANNING The efficient mine planning engineer not only must satisfy the economic, human, and environmental aspects of his task but must also consider the mechanical con¬sequences of his plan. The problems created for the mine by placing parallel drifts too close, by crossing drifts on different levels with inadequate, if any, separa¬tion, and by installing connections and crossovers in the haulage plan without regard for the effective spans cre¬ated, are only a few of the problems a mine planning engineer can create for himself and the mine. The effect on immediately adjacent mine areas when an area is caved is important to drift design because the removal of vertical support from a rock mass causes the weight of that rock mass to be shifted elsewhere. The adjacent rock mass will carry this load and reach a new equilibrium with the applied stress. The advancing front of stress increase that results from caving (and many other mining systems) is generally called the abutment load and is the increase in stress over the gravity or tec¬tonic stress that already exists, as shown in Fig. 1. In general, the abutment load will be similar in nature to the stress change found around an opening in rock and will be taken as causing an increase in the vertical prin¬cipal stress, due to an approaching caving boundary, so that
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