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An Introduction to Block and Panel Caving

Allan Moss, General manager Rio Tinto Copper Projects

Agenda

Context – why the interest in caving How block caving works and key technical considerations Risks Value drivers

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Greater Depths of Mining

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Trends in Mining ~ to 2013

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Trends in Mining ~ after 2013

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Why Caving?
• Use of gravity to break the rock (instead of explosives), thus low operating cost compared with other underground methods • High production rates can be achieved allowing economies of scale • Allows high degree of mechanization • Safe However • High initial capital costs • Conceptually simple – let gravity do the work - but technically very challenging • Requires large design effort; high quality construction; and rigorously managed operations
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Cave Mining ~ When is it Applicable?
• Orebodies with a substantial vertical dimension; massive or pipe like • Rock strength not a limitation but need sufficient orebody dimensions • Primarily used in copper mining but also molybdenum and diamonds,

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Evolution of daily production rates
New generation Caves; under construction

160000
Palabora Henderson Homestake - S Dakota

140000
1000m

Magma

Western Deeps

Kidd Creek

TONNES PER DAY

120000 100000 80000 60000 40000 20000 0 1880

Open pits

2000m

Super caves

3000m

4000m

San Manuel Climax Kiruna Malmberget Premier Kidd Creek Salvador Henderson Andina

“Conventional” underground

Olympic Dam Palabora Freeport IOZ/DOZ Ridgeway

Miami Mount Isa

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

2020

2040

YEAR
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(after Brown 2004a)
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Modernisation of an Old Method

LHD Grizzley Block Block Cave Cave
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With Increasing Production comes need for Size
Questa Perseverance Parkes Premier San Manuel Palabora

DOZ

Henderson

Oyu Tolgoi

Resolution

Waste Unexploited resource Caved waste Exploited resource

Note: size is for illustrative purpose only and has been sourced from published information
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Major block and panel cave mines

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Rio Tinto Planned Currently operating Closed mines BMO Capital Markets 2011 Global Metals & Mining Conference

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Rio Tinto – a leader in cave mining
• Involved in 5 block caves in operation or development • Applying experience from operating mines to developing next generation block cave mines • Advancing technology and innovation in block cave mining • Building an Underground Technology Centre to ensure objectives are met, particularly with regard to people
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Agenda

Context – why the interest in caving How block caving works and key technical considerations Risks Value drivers

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Where Does Caving fit in the Spectrum of Underground?

Method Resuing Cut and Fill Shrinkage Room and Pillar Open Stoping Sub-level Caving Block Caving
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T / Manshift 0.2 - 0.5 12 - 48 20 - 28 15 - 150 20 - 115 65 - 180 300 - 2000

Avg. T / Day 50 - 100+ 500 – 1,500 200 - 800 1,500 – 10,000 1,500 – 25,000 1,500 – 50,000 10,000 – 100,000

Relative Operating Cost per tonne 70+ 20 to 70 20 to 50 7 to 20 7 to 25 7 to 17 1 to 2.5
Underground mining methods modified from Brown, 2003

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Five Key Components of a Cave Mine
• Orebody access Undercut Level – Shafts – Tunnels Extraction Level • • • • Undercutting – The level where caving is initiated Extraction Ore flow – Sizing and transfer of ore to surface
Haulage Level Infrastructure Exhaust Level Vent Raise Ore Pass

Orebody

– Where ore is removed from the broken rock

– Support systems, ventilation, power, water, supplies, men
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Block Cave Concept
Plant Crushed Ore

Shaft Ore body

Draw bells

Production tunnels

Haulage system

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Caving Process
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Progressive spalling

Block cave mining is based on the principle that, once a sufficiently large area of a block has been undercut by drilling and blasting, the overlying block of ore will start to cave under the influence of gravity. The process will continue until caving propagates through the entire block to surface or to the open pit above

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1. Develop undercut level 2. Develop production tunnels
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3. Drill and blast undercut rings 4. Open troughs
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What are we trying to achieve?

Caved Ground

Undercut

Extraction LHD Loading
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Block Caving Concept
VALUE REALIZATION CAPITAL INVESTMENT
100 %

$
CAVE DYNAMICS SOURCES OF  UNCERTAINTY
Vyazmensky © 2007

TIME CAVE MANAGEMENT
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Section Through Cave

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Key Technical Issues

cave propagation cave flow

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cave fragmentation

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Critical dimensions to initiate caving

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Geometry of drawbells

DRAWBELLS

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Fragmentation: the key to a successful operation

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Impacts of Fragmentation

IMPLICATIONS ON RESOURCE RECOVERY

PRODUCTIVITY

SECONDARY BLASTING

VALUE AT RISK
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Caving the block
Index of Interruptions Frequency (Salvador mine, draw point 04W20)

Primary Fragmentation

Secondary  fragmentation

HoD

Initial secondary fragmentation Blasting effect
Blasted undercut material

Flow Interruption Index  (events/tons x 1000)

Secondary Fragmentation

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Rock Structure and fragmentation

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Fragmentation is complex: risks!!!
zone of loosening

Primary fragmentation

expansion void

Secondary fragmentation

f(fragment size)

fragment size evolution with draw

Fine material

higher mobility of finer fragments within a draw column

Coarse material

IDZ

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Cave Flow
Zone of Loosening
(blocks that were displaced vertically at least once)

Waste

waste Entry ore

waste

waste

ore

ore

ore

IDZ ~ Ellipsoid of Motion
(extracted blocks)
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HoD

Flow dictates Revenue Stream

WASTE ROCK

CAVED ORE UNCAVED ORE

WASTE ENTRY
cylindrical IEZ

EXTRACTED ORE

elliptical or frustum shaped IEZ; height equivalent to~100-200 mean fragment size

RILLING and MASS FLOW
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PREDOMINATLY MASS FLOW
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What do we draw?- the recovery issue
High grade ore Dilution entry

ORE BODY

$
WASTE ROCK

WASTE ROCK

Vyazmensky Vyazmensky © © 2008 2008

TIME

REPEAT
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What do we draw?- the recovery issue
High grade ore Dilution entry

ORE BODY

$
WASTE ROCK

WASTE ROCK

Vyazmensky Vyazmensky © © 2008 2008

TIME

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Undercutting
UNCAVED ORE
Rings to be blasted

CAVED ORE

Blasted undercut rings

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Purpose of the Extraction Level

ALLOW DEVELOPMENT OF DRAWBELLS

ACCESS TO ORE ABOVE

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

A video of some of the concepts outlined can be found http://www.argylediamonds.com.au/video_block_cave.html
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Agenda

Context – why the interest in caving How block caving works and key technical considerations Risks Value drivers

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Can’t define risk - Can’t define value
Block caving is not for marginal projects  Complete knowledge of the future is an impossibility  The question then becomes “how representative is the information we have on hand?”  This information is used to develop a robust enough plan to cater for the inherent uncertainty.  Uncertainty translates to risk (Flexibility costs money)

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Differences in Knowledge therefore differences in Uncertainty

Initiation point close to surface Substantial information No geotechnical constraints Ore drilled and typically sampled as part of mining process – detailed knowledge for short term planning Initiation point remote from surface Limited information Substantial geotechnical constraints

Limited knowledge of ore- sampling after the fact

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Scale

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Access and Extraction Complexity
DOZ Mine – Freeport, Indonesia

GBT Area I & II

Escondida, Chile
IOZ

DOZ

Courtesy of PTFI
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Control
OPEN PIT MINING CAVE MINING
uncertainty

reduced knowledge well established method good control more certainty
BETTER TECHNOLOGY IS A KEY TO  BETTER VALUE
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limited control

Risk
Characterisation – the resource; understanding the size of the prize Design – resource to reserve; time for imagination Construction – the big spend and first taste of reality Operation – recovery and payback
Paper (Design) Value vs. Actual Value

1,5 m

CONCRETE DAMAGE

CONCRETE DAMAGE

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Lesson learned at Palabora
Palabora successfully transitioned from an open pit to a 30,000 tpd underground block cave but……. Surface subsidence

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Mine infrastructure

dilution of the ore reserve and subsequent reduction in life of mine
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Agenda

Context – why the interest in caving How block caving works and key technical considerations Risks Value drivers

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Ore grade and value

Value is a function of Run of Mine (ROM) grade which is an outcome of three interrelated factors

1. The resource grade; a measure of the metal that is in the ground 2. The reserve grade, a measure of the effectiveness of the design 3. The recovered grade, a measure of how the cave is managed and cave dynamics

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Indicative Costs
Capital
The capital and operating costs shown are relative and provide an indication of the spread. Both green field and brown field projects are included as are operations where access is via shaft or by decline. They were developed simply by normalising to lowest cost producers in terms of capital and operating cost.

Operating

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How Soon do you Get your Money Back?

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Realising Value
New generation of Cave Mines • • • represent a step change in the size of operations require investment levels of $2 to 10 billion and require significant time to achieve operating targets

There are value drivers common to any mining project: 1. Costs (capital and operating) 2. Revenue 3. Time
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Investment in technology and innovation to drive value
Cave dynamics • Block caving is inflexible and value locked in at the design phase • Important to understand cave behaviour and reliably forecast metal production (tons and grade)

Mine of the Future™

Intelligent Mining • Autonomous equipment • Block cave operations well suited to concept of intelligent mining; real time information • Operating efficiencies

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Investment in technology and innovation to drive value
Rapid development • Tunnelling concepts that are more productive and cost effective than traditional methods • Integrated shaft boring machinery with the potential to dramatically improve safety while reducing construction time Optimised design and management • Building on ability to predict cave behaviour • Improved planning techniques and software to improve grade sequencing

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The Vision – an Ore Factory
Required Fragmentator

In Situ Fragment Size Crushing and Grinding

Energy (Distance Traveled) Reliable Ore Flow Predictable Fragmentation (+ grade) Ore Transport and Sizing

The Factory The Ore Rock Factory

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Thank You
Allan Moss, General manager Rio Tinto Copper Projects