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Underground Mining Methods 

 
Authors: Priyadarshi Hem (Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering - University of British Columbia), Greg Fenrick (InfoMine), and Jack Caldwell (Robertson GeoConsultants)

Revised: December 2011

Summary

This review explores the different methods of underground mining. Links to underground mining courses, books, consultants, and software are also given.

INTRODUCTION

This review is written to give you a quick overview of the basics of underground mining methods. We do this primarily by listing links to resources on the web where you will find more information about each of the many ways that miners have chosen to develop their underground mine.

If you know of or have other resources that you believe will help the rest of us, please pass them along so we can add them in and make this the definitive reference work on the basics of underground mining methods.

EDUMINE

Edumine provides an excellent source for education and training through a set of online and short courses. Courses in Edumine are designed to serve for three needs:
  • Improve Your Background Knowledge of Mining
  • Technical and Trades Training and Certification
  • Professional Development, Career Enhancement and Cross Training
Here are our favourites:

COSTS

The best way to understand something is to know what it costs. To understand underground mining, it helps to know what it costs. So I went to CostMine (a division of InfoMine). In their publication Mining Cost Service, there is a section for Cost Models. It contains data on every aspect of almost every type of underground mining method. Costs include everything from fresh water pumps to haul dumps, from drill bits to geologists. Contact them if you need more info. To whet your appetite, here is a summary:

For a shaft entry underground mine, here are the approximate total operating costs [in dollars per tonne ore] and the total capital costs [millions of dollars]. (2010 figures)

Production Rate (t/day) $/t $M
Cut & Fill 1,000 68.03 32.7
Mechanized Cut & Fill 1,000 52.48 68.4
Shrinkage 1,000 51.49 31.5
End Slice 2,000 25.58 45
Vertical Crater Retreat 2,000 40.36 66.8
Sublevel Longhole 4,000 19.02 63.7
Room & Pillar 8,000 20.83 118.2
Sublevel Caving 8,000 21.99 142.6
Block Caving 30,000 9.10 163.7


Then there is the Aventurine software SHERPA.

BOOKS & PAPERS

Check out the InfoMine eStore for several publications related to underground mining.

There are over 400 papers in the InfoMine library to underground mining and the methods applicable thereunto.

Finally a recommendation from one of my reviewers: Another book you might want to reference is "Underground Mining Methods, Engineering Fundamentals and International Case Studies" edited by William A. Hustrulid and Richard L. Bullock, published by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration.

CONSULTANTS

If you seek a consultant to help you through this thicket of information, here is my selection, culled from a longer list:

Coffey Mining
Graham Daws Associates Limited
Independent Mining Consultants, Inc. (IMC)
Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd.
Kusha Maadan Engineering
Mencon LLC
Terracon Geotechnique Ltd.
Trow Associates Inc
Turgis Consulting (Pty) Ltd

SOFTWARE

Here are some software suppliers who appear to have computer codes for sale that may help in planning and operating an underground mine:

If you need help evaluating these software packages, contact Gibbs Associates or the folks at GR-FX.

CAREERS

Working in an underground mine is now safer than ever. A career in an underground mine is not only rewarding but is also among the top paid industry jobs. To see the opportunities in an underground mine which match your skills, visit InfoMine's Careers section

TECHNICAL - MINING METHOD LINKS

BLOCK CAVING

Book: Bucky, P.B., Mining by Block Caving

Block Caving

An Overview of Block Caving

Block cave mining at Argyle Mine (video)


CUT AND FILL

Cut and Fill Stoping

Cut and Fill vs Drift and Fill

Cut-and-fill Stoping (Process and equipment used)

Cut and Fill Stoping (Video)


HYDRAULIC MINING / HYDRO MINING

Introduction

A Case Study - New Zealand

Hydraulic coal mining - Seddonville, NZ

A look into its Benefits

Book - Hydraulic mining of coal, by D. Seaton & Coal age


LONGWALL
Here are some of the links I selected from thousands on the topic of longwall mining-there are many more in InfoMine's links database, LinksMine:

Edumine - Underground Mining Methods and Equipment

Longwall Mining Method - Wikipedia

Book: Longwall Mining by Syd S. Peng

Longwall Mining Equipment - Caterpillar

Longwall Mining Videos


ROOM AND PILLAR

Atlas Copco Notes

Different types of room-and-pillar methods from the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Descriptions

Room and Pillar Mining (Video)


SHRINKAGE STOPING

Definition

Book - Techniques in underground mining: selections from Underground mining methods

Shrinkage Stope Mining


SLICE MINING (INCLINED & HORIZONTAL SLICING)

Book - Principles and Practices of Modern Coal Mining- By R. D. Singh

Strata mechanics in coal mining, By Michael L. Jeremic


SLUSHER MINING

Please take a look at this article.


SOLUTION (IN SITU LEACH) MINING
A better way to mine?

In Situ Leach (ISL) Mining of Uranium

Solution Mining Research Institute

Salt Cavern Information Center

Southwest Research and Information Center

In Situ Leach Uranium (Video) & Copper (Video)


STULL STOPES

Book - Introductory mining engineering - By Howard L. Hartman, Jan M. Mutmansky

Definitions - Wikipedia


SUBLEVEL CAVING

Sublevel Caving

Sub-level caving operations for gold extraction in the Abitibi region of Quebec

Sublevel Caving (Video)

Sublevel Caving Simulation Video


SUBLEVEL STOPING
Some links on open stopes:

Edumine - Design and Application of Sublevel Stoping Methods

Sublevel Open Stoping - SLOS -- Brief description; Applications

Sublevel Stoping -- Process, stoping methods, and equipment used

Sublevel Stoping (Video)


TOP SLICING
A type of mining that I had not previously come across:

Definitions - Top Slicing

Top Slicing and Cover Caving


VERTICAL CRATER RETREAT

Vertical Crater Retreat

Vertical Crater Retreat (RichieWiki)

Vertical Crater Retreat - SME Handbook


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