Examination of Support Methods for Block Caving Slusher Drifts

Board, Mark
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION As the world's supply of near-surface metalliferous ore bodies is depleted, more emphasis must be placed upon mechanized bulk systems of underground mining. In particular, block caving is becoming increasingly important as a method of mining low to moderate grade deposits at depths of somewhat less than 1219 m (4000 ft). 00 ft). The block caving method requires that the ore body be completely undercut, thereby removing its means of support and inducing failure which progresses from the undercut to the ground surface. As the span of the under- cut increases and the weight of the overlying crushed ore body becomes greater, large stresses are induced on slusher and haulage drifts. Stability of these drifts is critical in block caving operations and often proves to be an extremely difficult task (Kendorski, 1976; McWilliams, 1975). Slusher drift maintenance can be costly, often exceeding that of the original support costs. This chapter analyzes the ground support problems of an Arizona block caving mine. The mine presently uses monolithic concrete liners as a support method. Failure of the liners occurs as the undercut approaches, thus initiating a maintenance problem which will continue until the ore body is depleted in that block or panel. To examine this problem, a simple analysis of the stresses induced by the advancing undercut was per- formed. Utilizing a design method developed by Dixon ( 1973, 1974), the calculated stresses were used to deter- mine the minimum thickness required for varying section shapes of unreinforced concrete liners. It is found that the thicknesses required for stable linings are not economic. Recently developed empirical methods of support de- sign are utilized (Barton, 1974; Bieniawski, 1973) and compared to the analytical method. A final discussion of alternative methods of support is given with recommendations for the use of passive or "yielding" support methods. LAKESHORE MINE (GENERAL GEOLOGY) The Lakeshore copper property is located in Pinal County, AZ, approximately 45 km (28 miles) south of Casa Grande. The Lakeshore deposit is a porphyry cop- per similar to others in Arizona. The ore body consists of disseminated chalcopyrite and fracture fillings in quartz monzonite porphyry (QMP), Cretaceous volcanic (KVS), Precambrian diabase, and Mescal limestone. The ore body has been divided into three distinct zones of mineralization which have been termed (South, 1972) the oxide zone, the sulfide zone, and the tactite zone. The oxide zone occurs in the upper portions of the ore body and consists primarily of leached and oxidized quartz monzonite porphyry and Cretaceous sedimentary and volcanic rocks. The sulfide zone underlies the oxide zone and includes all quartz monzonite porphyry and Cretaceous rocks which have not been oxidized. The thickness of the sulfide zone is variable and ranges from about 61 to 122 m (200 to 400 ft). The tactite zone occurs in a series of Paleozoic metasediments consisting of tactite, quartzite, diabase, hornfels, and dikes of quartz monzonite porphyry. The tactite zone is highly variable in thickness and underlies the Cretaceous volcanic and sediments throughout the mine. Together, the tactite and sulfide zones are known as the thick or tall sulfides. The greatest support stability problems occur in mining of the tactite zone and are therefore the subject of the remainder of this chapter. MINING METHOD The Lakeshore mine is a block caving mine utilizing a panel caving method. The present mine consists of two
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