In May of 1980, a mine operated by Belmoral Mines Ltd experienced a failed crown pillar, resulting in the death of eight miners and putting sixteen others in harmï¿½s way. The Ferderber mine was located in the Val dï¿½Or region of the province of Quebec in Canada, and had been under development for 19 months and production for 9 months, since the opening of the portal. The crown pillar separating the 1ï¿½7 level from overlying overburden ultimately failed, permitting an estimated 1.5 million cubic feet of liquefied sediment to gain entry into the mine. This paper back-analyses the cave-in by applying decision error theory, in an examination of the organizational culture and the collective decisions contributing to the cave-in disaster. A case will be made for a greater understanding of mining methodology, geomechanics and risk assessment when operating in such challenging geologic conditions. Boundary condition and decision (BCD) analysis will be introduced as an innovative new method for the analysis of mine accidents and incidents. It will also be shown that BCD analysis can be applied to any event in an enterprise for which standards, norms or legislation exists. A cognitive profile will be presented that provides insight into the safety ethos existing within the Ferderber mine organization at the time of the tragedy.
Finsch Diamond Mine, part of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM), is situated between Kimberley and Postmasburg in the Northern Cape, South Africa. The kimberlite pipe was discovered in 1960 and De Beers assumed full mining rights three years later. Production commenced in 1966 from an opencast mine, and the operation moved underground in 1990 by developing and implementing a new mining method of blast hole open stoping. A mechanized block cave was brought into production in 2005. While block caving was not new to DBCM, with productive caves having operated in Kimberley and Cullinan, from the outset, the Finsch caving operation was designed as the most advanced with a semi-automated ground handling system. The extraction level was laid out as a single sided herringbone system due to the very poor ground conditions on the south side of the pipe. These factors combined to create a unique environment, which necessitated a completely new approach to draw control. The required system was developed by a team consisting of DBCM personnel from head office and Finsch, GEMCOM and Sandvik- Tamrock, the equipment manufacturers. It was essential that the system could be run quickly, provide daily updates and issue calls directly to the LHDs. It was also important that the base data were obtained from the resource model, which was to be depleted on a monthly basis, thus forming a close link between mine planning and draw control. A further requirement of the system was that it would form a central database for the extraction operation where all data pertaining to delays and changes in conditions, be they production or ground condition related, could be recorded and analysed. The design brought together empirical rules and tables developed at Cullinan plus concepts from programming developed for the front cave at Koffiefontein so that the new system was based on sound practical experience. These facets were incorporated into PCBC (GEMCOM) and CMS and PCS (Sandvik-Tamrock programmes). The system has now been operational for just under a year and while modifications have had to be made, it has proved itself as a practical and reliable tool with which to manage the draw control at Finsch. The system is unforgiving and has forced the production team to focus on the specified drawpoints. Problems have been encountered but most of these have been related to re-educating a workforce, familiar with a flexible mining method, to the strict discipline required for a modern block cave.
Palabora Mining Company operates a low grade underground copper mine situated in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Full production was first reached in May 2005 after a successful transition from an open pit operation to an underground block cave operation. The operation faces a number of technical and operational challenges, not the least being fragmentation of a competent rock mass and external dilution. The cave is subdivided into three main sectors being the east, the west and the central sectors. Caving was initiated from the weaker central sector, which has the majority of its drawpoints located directly under the open pit bottom currently filled with about 130 million tons of waste material from the pit wall failure incurred in 2004. About 48% of the ore reserve has to be extracted from the western sector, which has a much courser fragmentation compared to the other two sectors and only 25% from the central sector with the finest fragmentation. The main constraint during the ramp-up stage has been secondary breaking of drawpoint blockages. Ground-breaking secondary breaking and cave management initiatives and practices have made it possible for Palabora to realize and sustain high production rates.
Careful monitoring of the position of the cave front is essential for well-managed block cave mining. Seismic monitoring systems yield 3-D information about the location of fracturing ahead of the cave. However, because the aseismic gap between cave surface and seismogenic zone is of unknown extent, the cluster of microseismicity can only yield an upper bound for the cave height. The large velocity contrast between the fractured rock in the aseismic gap and the broken loose material within the cave can be used by an inversion procedure to find a few simple geometric parameters (such as height of the top of the cave) if a simple 3-D shapeï¿½for example a paraboloidï¿½is assumed for the cave. Ray-tracing must be used as the large velocity contrasts cause seismic waves to bend around the cave, but the inversion takes the form of a minimization problem in only a few dimensions and so the computational time is feasible. This technique has been successfully tested on realistic synthetic data.
This paper reports an investigation aimed at optimizing the compaction of granulated hard-metal powder for the production of cutting tool inserts. The optimal compaction is that which yields optimal shrinkage during sintering, i.e. minimum porosity in the sintered part. Extensive compaction tests on 23 different hard-metal powders have been carried out and have shown that the ideal ï¿½green densityï¿½ of a hard-metal compact, i.e. the density after compaction, increases linearly with the apparent density of the powder. On the basis of this result, an equation has been derived, which allows one to predict the optimal shrinkage that a hard-metal compact undergoes during sintering once the following data are known: the required sintered density, the volatile content of the powder and the apparent density of the powder. Since these data are available to the tooling designer, this equation allows one to design tooling for the compaction of hard-metal, which leads to optimal shrinkage.
The modelling of lithological domains is a critical step in mineral resource and reserve evaluation. Deterministic models rely on an interpretation of the available drill hole data and expert knowledge, but do not account for the uncertainty in the spatial extent of the lithological domains. Instead, probabilistic models based on conditional simulation can be used to map the probabilities of occurrence of the domains within the deposit, which reflect the uncertainty in their presence or absence at unsampled locations. The mineral grade model is then obtained by weighting the predicted grades associated with each lithological domain by the probability of occurrence of this domain. Such an approach accounts for the continuity of the grades proper to each lithological domain and for the uncertainty in the spatial extent of these domains within the deposit. An application to a porphyry copper deposit is presented. Keywords: spatial uncertainty; plurigaussian simulation; geological control; kriging; geostatistics.
The South African coal mining industry is currently disposing of about 10 million tons of ultra-fine coal (<150 ï¿½m) per year. Once discarded, these sulphur-containing ultra-fines contribute to several environmental problems. As part of a project initiated by the Water Research Commission to investigate the use of Cleaner Production (CP) in the mining industry, a study was carried out to determine whether a CP approach could be used to identify opportunities to reduce this coal waste, and to determine which of these opportunities would be most feasible. In order to do this, a CP assessment was conducted at three case study collieries in the South African Witbank coalfield. Mass-balancing and sampling, followed by laboratory characterisation tests and site surveys, were used to determine the quantity, quality and sources of the ultra-fine coal at the three collieries. Literature reviews, brainstorming sessions and interviews then followed to generate the CP options. An environmental, economic and technical feasibility assessment was then prepared for each option, to determine the most viable interventions for implementation. A number of opportunities were identified through the assessment. By preventing coarser coal from being discarded with the ultra-fine coal, the quantity of coal disposed of could be decreased at all three collieries, and by up to 24% in one case. Increasing the crusher top size would reduce the amount of coal that is milled to less than 150 ï¿½m, so that less is wasted. The ultra-fines that have already been disposed of on slurry dams can be completely reclaimed and converted into a valuable product, which can be sold as power station feedstock. The newly processed ultra-fines could be beneficiated using flotation and exported together with the coarser coal. The results of the assessments thus suggested that workable CP opportunities to reduce ultra-fine coal wastage exist at the sites investigated, and that their feasibility is colliery-specific. The associated financial benefits of the proposed options suggested that CP is a realistic approach to addressing environmental problems. Keywords: Cleaner Production; coal mining; coal-washing; ultrafines
Due to the environmental constraints and the limitations on blasting, ripping as a ground loosening and breaking method has become more popular in both mining and civil engineering applications. Because of the technological advances in dozer manufacturing techniques, more powerful dozer types are available today. Thus, the ground, previously classified as non-rippable, has become rippable. As a consequence, a more applicable rippability classification system is needed which considers both equipment properties as well as rock properties in all applications. This paper is part of a complementary research work and presents the development of a previously published grading rippability classification system by the application of fuzzy set theory. The integrated rippability classification system considers the combined utilization of the rock and equipment properties, as well as expert opinion. Fuzzy set theory was chosen mainly because it deals well with uncertainty in the choice of variables. Although there are apparent sharp or discontinuous boundaries in existing classification systems, practically most of the factors involved in the ripping process are less well defined and boundaries are more blurred (or fuzzy) or uncertain in nature. Also by means of fuzzy logic it is possible to eliminate bias or subjectivity. The validity of the proposed system was checked by the comparison against existing classification systems and direct ripping production values obtained at studied sites. It is seen that by means of fuzzy logic, the uncertainties are reduced and biased usage of the final ratings that appear in alternative systems are efficiently dealt with. Keywords: Fuzzy set theory, rock rippability, rippability classification system, direct ripping, fuzzy inference system.