Mining and Treatment Plant Practice at the Finsch Mine, De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.

Loftus, W. K. B. ; Stucke, H. J. ; Rankin, D.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 3, 1969
Discussion: H. J. Wright (Member): The authors are to be congratulated on presenting such a comprehensive and lucid account of bringing a large diamond mine into efficient production from the grass roots. When one considers the vast amount of planning and hard work that had to be put into the project the authors have done a praiseworthy job in condensing the story, so as to present all the important technical aspects, the logic behind the major decisions and the future thinking on the operations, in a concise and readable form. This was the first experience of De Beers personnel in starting a large diamond mine as an opencast project and nor do they employ a large planning staff, most of the planning being carried out by the executive staff themselves. It is operating most efficiently on a large tonnage and it is neatly and very well laid out. In fact, with its model townships, both for European and Coloured employees, tarred roads, recreation club and its grass golf course, it is like an oasis in the arid climate of the North-Western Cape. The key operation of opencast mining is, of course, the planning of the geometry of the pit. This has been adequately dealt with by the authors. It is of interest to consider some of the consequences arising from complete lack of open pit planning, based on actual operating mines. I refer of course to the present, four producing mines in Kimberley. The Kimberlite pipes were all discovered in a short span of time from the year 1870, onwards. They soon became a hive of activity with diggers industriously working their claims at varying rates. The country rock comprises from the surface downwards, some 90 ft of decomposed dolerite followed by approximately 260 ft of soft Karroo shales, which in turn is underlain by a hard competent Ventersdorp lava, known locally as melaphyre. The average water table was just below the dolerite at a depth of approximately 90 to 100 ft. Only the blue ground was mined leaving the waste rock sides almost vertical, and as the depth increased beyond 100 ft, large falls of sidewall started to take place. The shale was unstable and the falls covered
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