Draw Management
468 Massmin 2004 Santiago Chile, 2225 August 2004
Massmin 2004 469
1 INTRODUCTION
Development of innovative technological projects requires
an insight of technological evolution of processes under
study. Toward this, it is convenient to identify the main focus
and targets to direct research and development efforts.
This work intends to adapt the concept of Critical
Technological Dimension (CTD) to get a new tool for
management of innovation in mining industry.
CTD is defined as a numerical index that reflects the
technological effectiveness and/or competitiveness of any
process under evaluation. CTD has to have an aggregated
character to represent the whole process, be universal to be
applied by/to any process user/application and variable in
time to allow monitoring its evolution.
CTD concept is applicable to any process; being
underground mining method only a particular one, however,
this work is dedicated exclusively to Block/Panel Caving.
Present work validates the use of mean extraction rate as
Block/Panel Caving CTD, and useful application of this
concepts are presented to actual state of the art in order to
outline its potential for innovation in underground mining
methods.
Conventional LHD Block/panel caving technology is
deeply analyzed to emphasize how CDT can guide us to
look for high impact technological innovation.
2 MEAN EXTRACTION RATE AS CTD
For Block/Panel Caving methods, mean extraction rate
expressed in units of t/m2d, has been identified as a CTD,
that is, a measure of global process effectiveness. CTD
strictly refers to technological key factors that determine the
business value.
For this analysis, we will define the mean extraction
rate (Tm) as the ratio between the total capacity of
production (t/d) and active area (m
2
) needed to obtain that
production.
Business impact is clear when greater rate of extraction
can be achieved as listed below:
Greater productivity from active area can be achieved,
which means that equal active area yields greater
production.
Better advance taking from high grade blocks, allowing in
practice, an advance of fine ore output.
In the case of new mines, lower time is required to reach
full production.
Mean extraction rate results from a combination of several
factors, including mine design and material handling or
other unitary operations technology, and restrictions
imposed by the ore body or originated in management
practices.
Two operational conditions controlling the ore extraction
can be distinguished: extraction done while caving process
is ongoing, also called propagation phase; and extraction
done when all material is already broken after propagation
phase, when full extraction rate can be applied.
Propagation phase is the period when it is not convenient to
extract more material than the "ground" delivers as caving
phenomena converts in situ material in broken material. It is a
common practice to accept that this process finishes when
30% of material has been extracted. During propagation
phase, it is necessary to operate at an extraction rate Tp,
named propagation extraction rate, whose value is usually
much lower than the full extraction rate Tf.
In full extraction rate stage, restrictions imposed in
propagation stage are progressively abandoned and
consequently, other process control enters into play, as the
occurrence of hangups that interrupt the flow through
drawpoints.
2.1 Full Extraction Rate Analysis
In conventional Block/Panel Caving system with LHD, a
production module is usually composed of a production drift
with 8 to 10 drawpoints each side and one ore pass. This
means that each LHD extracts the ore from any of those 16
to 20 drawpoints and dumps it to the ore pass.
If the bucket capacity is 6 tons and the mean transport
distance is between 50 and 60 m, as it is frequent in
different mines of Codelco Chile, LHD productivity ranks at
200 t/h, equivalent in the best case to 3,600 t/d (18 h/d). As
a result, for one module composed by 16 points with 225 m
2
of influence each, (drawpoint spacing 15x15 m), production
will be carried out from 3,600 m
2
, meaning a maximum
structural capacity of 1.0 t/m2d.
Santiago Chile, 2225 August 2004
Abstract
Extraction rate in Block/Panel Caving mining method is analyzed as the so called Critical Technological Dimension that
represents a whole index of the effectiveness of the process, in this case the mining method. Extraction rate is critical for
mining business because it limits the production capacity in a given ore body. It can be distinguished three rates of
extraction in Block/Panel Caving as follows: Propagation rate of extraction during caving propagation period, Full rate of
extraction, when all material is broken and Mean extraction rate representing the global performance of the process
considering the total active area, both under propagation and full extraction of broken material.
This paper presents the relations of dependence among those three extraction rates with a discussion of the impact of
rock mass condition affecting propagation rate and the effect of fragmentation in full rate of extraction of broken material.
Also, it is presented an application to Conventional Block/Panel Caving Method using LHD, whose results set a structural
limit for its mean rate of extraction [t/m2day]. This analysis includes the effect of interruptions of flow in draw points (hung
up frequency) and restrictions imposed by the batch system of extraction (LHD).
Extraction rate:
As an index of effectiveness
Francisco Carrasco J., Vctor Encina M., Soledad Maass V.
Instituto de Innovacin en Minera y Metalurgia S.A., IM2
470 Massmin 2004
Even in conditions of maximum operational capacity, the
mean extraction per drawpoint is 225 t/d, with 1.125 h/d of
LHD operation, so, drawpoints utilization is less that 5%.
This low utilization, which is remarkable by itself, becomes
even lower due to ore does not draw regularly through
drawpoint, but intermittently due to hangups.
In fact, depending on the size of broken ore, flow is
intermittent due to hangups even when dealing with "fine
material". To face this situation, operational experience
indicates that most convenient method to hold LHD
productivity is to allow them shift the drawpoint each time
the flow is interrupted, and shift the drift every time that
module has completed 10 hanged drawpoints. This
because secondary blasting crew can accomplish 10
unhangups per shift, so under this work organization, almost
two modules are needed per LHD, therefore a lower
extraction rate will be achieved because the extra area
needed to face hangups.
Following the logic of this work organization for ore
extraction operation, the impact on the extraction rate can
be calculated for different ore quality and drawpoint spacing.
Results are presented in Table 1:
Table 1 shows that when material is medium sized the
possible achievable rate is 73% of ideal condition without
hangups.
Extraction rate decreases because every time when a
change of drift is required, another one has to be available,
so to obtain the same production more active area is
needed.
Drawpoint production capacity is independent on its area
of influence, so extraction rate increases when drawpoint
spacing is small because module total area becomes
smaller.
To evaluate the impact of unhangup performance, a
hypothetical exercise was done reducing unhangup time to
one half of the standard, getting Table 2 results.
From Table 2 it is concluded that if unhangup could be
done in a half of standard time, extraction rate in medium
sized rock could increase since 73% to 84% of the ideal
extraction rate, that is, approximately 15% more than with
the standard unhangup performance.
Another way for increasing the extraction rate is to
increase LHD bucket capacity. Results of an exercise with
12 t LHD bucket capacity are presented in Table 3. In this
case, the ideal rate (without hangups) is duplicated;
however extraction rate in medium sized rock only grows
56% compared to 6 t bucket (Table 1).
Then, to duplicate the extraction rate, considering the
actual situation with hangups, not only LHD bucket capacity
has to be duplicated, but also unhangup time should be
done in one half of standard time, as it is shown in Table 4:
From analysis on extraction rate at full extraction rate for
conventional LHD technology, it can be concluded that:
With flat infrastructure (drawpoint spacing of 15x15 m and
13x13 m) in medium sized rock, extraction rates have a
structural limit of 0.7 to 1.0 t/m
2
d respectively.
Former figures can be increased to 1.3 t/m
2
d if 11x11 m
or less drawpoint spacing is used, for which infrastructure
design should be inclined or a Macrozanja type.
A technological improvement of unhangup operation to
reduce the standard time to one half only implies 16%
extraction rate increase.
Santiago Chile, 2225 August 2004
Table 1: Impact of hangup frequency
Case A: Conventional 6 t LHD, 16 drawpoints
per drift, 10 unhangups per shift
size hangup time for extraction rate
frequency drift t/m
2
day
change
t per h drawpoint spacing in m
hangup 15x15 13x13 11x11
very coarse 80 4 0.40
coarse 160 8 0.57 0.76
medium 320 16 0.73 0.97 1.35
fine 640 32 1.12 1.57
very fine 1280 64 1.70
no hangups   1.00 1.33 1.86
Table 2: Impact of better unhangup productivity
Case A.1: Conventional 6 t LHD, 16 drawpoints
per drift, one half of standard unhangup time
size hangup time for extraction rate
frequency drift t/m
2
day
change
t per h drawpoint spacing in m
hangup 15x15 13x13 11x11
very coarse 80 4 0.57
coarse 160 8 0.73 0.97
medium 320 16 0.84 1.12 1.57
fine 640 32 1.22 1.70
very fine 1280 64 1.78
no hangups   1.00 1.33 1.86
Table 3: Impact of increase LHD bucket capacity
Case A.2: 12 t LHD bucket, 16 drawpoints
per drift, 10 unhangup per shift
size hangup time for extraction rate
frequency drift t/m
2
day
change
t per h drawpoint spacing in m
hangup 15x15 13x13 11x11
very coarse 80 2 0.50
coarse 160 4 0.80 1.07
medium 320 8 1.14 1.52 2.13
fine 640 16 1.94 2.70
very fine 1280 32 3.13
no hangups   2.00 2.66 3.72
Table 4: Duplication of extraction rate
Case B: 12 t LHD bucket, 16 drawpoints per drift, one
half of standard unhangup time
size hangup time for extraction rate
frequency drift t/m
2
day
change
t per h drawpoint spacing in m
hangup 15x15 13x13 11x11
very coarse 80 4 0.80
coarse 160 8 1.14 1.52
medium 320 16 1.45 1.94 2.70
fine 640 32 2.24 3.13
very fine 1280 64 3.40
no hangups   2.00 2.66 3.72
Massmin 2004 471
Double LHD bucket capacity implies only 56% increase of
extraction rate
To duplicate current extraction rate in all cases, both LHD
bucket capacity and unhangup performance should be
duplicated. In such a case, extraction rate Tf should reach
at most 1 to 2 t/m
2
d when flat infrastructure and wide
drawpoint spacing design is applied in medium sized rock,
and when small drawpoint spacing (11x11m and
Macrozanja one) extraction rate could raise to less than 3
t/m
2
d.
2.2 Mean Extraction Rate Analysis
As formerly noted, mean extraction rate Tm represents
the link with business because it expresses the whole
production capacity per unit of active area.
Given that propagation occurs while the first 30% of any
column is extracted, and in the remaining 70% full extraction
rate is used, the following relationship can be established:
Time in days needed to extract a column of ore:
(1)
T = tonnage per m
2
of column
T
P
and T
f
= Extraction rate at Propagation and Full
production phases respectively in t/m
2
d.
Then, mean extraction rate Tm in t/m2d is given by:
(2)
or:
(3)
At the limit, when full extraction rate is as large as wanted,
it is noticed that mean extraction rate has an asymptote,
which is proportional to extraction rate of propagation
phase:
(4)
A condition of production stability has to be set to assure
that any time the mine will produce the same amount of ore.
Toward this is necessary that each time an area is
exhausted, an equivalent one where its propagation period
has finished have to be ready to start extraction at full
production rate.
(5)
(6)
Condition of stability is verified when:
propagation time = n * full production time
Where "n" factor is defined in such a way those times of
extraction in propagation and full extraction rate time, could
be the same, so:
(7)
or:
(8)
Where "n" factor also represents the relation that should
exists between the area at propagation stage and the area
at full extraction rate.
Mean extraction rate will be also given by:
(9)
A
T
: Total area of system in m
2
A
p
: Propagation area in m
2
A
f
: Full area in m
2
With
(10)
From equations (8), (9) and (10) it is deduced that mean
extraction rate Tm can be expressed as:
(11)
It can be observed that Tm is asymptotic to 10/3 of T
p
,
figure that is consistent with the one encountered in
equation 4. In this way, if one takes a reasonable value
T
p
=0.40 t/m
2
d, the maximum possible Tm will be 1.32 t/m
2

d.
Figure 1 shows values obtained for Tm and Tf in t/m
2
d
(main axis) according to different values of n and for
propagation rate Tp=0.40 t/m
2
d. Productivity of drawpoints
in t/h (secondary axis) is also plotted (dotted line).
Figure 1: Relationship between mean extraction rate and
full extraction rate for Tp=0.40 t/m2d
Santiago Chile, 2225 August 2004
time
T
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472 Massmin 2004
It can be observed that:
Case A: For conventional system, is enough to maintain
an area ratio on the order of n=0.76 to be able to replace
opportunely the exhausted area. Full extraction phase
reaches extraction rates on the order of 0.7 t/m2d (as
mentioned earlier) so, mean extraction rate would be
close to 0.57 t/m2d.
Case B: if conventional LHD system could be improved to
achieve full extraction rates on the order of 1.45 t/m2d,
as in the case of Table 2, mean extraction rate should
increase to 0.80 t/m2d, for which it will be required an
area ratio close to n=1.55.
Case C: In an hypothetical system able to reach a full
extraction rate on the order of 3 t/m2d, which accordingly
to earlier analysis is not reachable with conventional LHD
system, mean extraction rate could raise to 1.0 t/m2d,
with an area ratio higher than n=3.25.
3 CTD ANALYSIS
In practice, in mines it is common to observe mean
extraction rate lower than those presented in Case A (Table
1) mainly due to:
The influence of propagation rate, which is the factor that
controls the process, as shown in Figure 2. In fact,
propagation rate average at first 30% of extraction could
in practice be lower to 0.40 t/m2d for primary material,
being even closer to 0.30 t/m2d or smaller in some
cases.
Figure 2: Mean extraction rate curves for different
propagation rate.
Note: It is assumed there is no technological limit
associated to material handling or another operational
factor.
Once restrictions due to caving propagation are over, full
extraction rate is mainly controlled by productivity of
material handling system (Secondary axis in Figure 1),
however, many factors are also involved in final full
extraction rate as, among others:
 Secondary size reduction done in drawpoints and/or in
ore passes.
 Grizzly and ore pass dimensions.
 Productivity of size reduction equipment (pick hammers
or crushers).
 Productivity of main transport.
 Operational interference (undercut and new
area adding).
 Availability and preventive maintenance and repairing of
equipment and productive areas.
A combination of those factors will give a characteristic
average output per drawpoint and the correspondent full
and mean extraction rate. For example, if an LHD
producing 200 t/h is serving 16 drawpoints, the maximum
output will be 12.5 t/h per drawpoint (225 t/d per drawpoint
). This value could decrease when considering all those
aspects formerly mentioned.
Returning to analysis of Figure 1, technological output
needed for each case are:
 Case A: Output slightly lower than 10.5 t/h per drawpoint,
a value that is consistent with the one analyzed.
 Case B: Output of 22.5 t/h per drawpoint.
 Case C: Output close to 45 t/h per drawpoint, that is, 4
times the conventional output.
Considering the maximum technological output
associated to materials handling and a hypothetical
situation in which rate of propagation is twice the limit set on
Figure 1, give us Figure 3:
Figure 3: Relationship between mean extraction rate and
full extraction rate for Tp=0.80 t/m
2
d
In case A, attainable mean extraction rate with
conventional technology is at most on the order of 0.7
t/m
2
d, which is equal to full extraction rate that this
technology can reach. This happens despite "ground" can
delivers more than that.
On the other hand, if an improvement of material handling
system (Case B) were possible in order to increase 105%
the maximum output of Case A, improved technology
could reach mean extraction rates on the order of 1.15
t/m
2
d.
Notice that in Case B mean extraction rate increase is
only near to 65%, that is far from being proportional to the
effort required to improve conventional technology.
In Case C, a new technology as Continuous Mining or
Macrozanjas or other is considered, attainable mean
extraction rate is close 1.63 t/m
2
d, that is, 2.3 times
higher than obtained with current technology.
In Case C, it is clear that conventional LHD technology
(even the improved one) could hardly attain the required
rates.
In an hypothetical exercise where propagation rate is
completely unrestricted (Figure 4), the new propagation rate
will be fixed by production capacity of material handling
system and will be equal to mean and full extraction rate. It
is clear in this case that the grater the material handling
system capacity the greater the advantage in mining
process.
Santiago Chile, 2225 August 2004
Massmin 2004 473
Figure 4: Extraction rate by % extraction of varies
technologic scenarios
Tech1: Conventional technology with propagation limit
Tech2: Conventional technology without propagation limit
Tech3: Conventional technology improved without propagation limit
Tech4: Alternative technology without propagation limit
Another interesting element to analyze is the behavior
of area ratio "n" that can be a management tool, which
allows the owner to choose the better system capacity
compatible with operational complexity. The greater the n
factor the greater the operation complexity. Also, as can
be seen in Figure 2, mean extraction rate increments due
to n increments are lower than mean extraction rate
increment due to jump to a different curve corresponding
to a greater rate of propagation. One can guess that a
borderline value for area ratio should be between n=3
and n=4.
On the other hand, an increase of the mean extraction
rate implies necessarily that production area exhausts
faster. Hence, new area adding capacity could become a
technological restriction of mean extraction rate.
4 CONCLUSION
The main conclusion of this analysis is the relevance of
borderline that caving propagation process imposes to rates
of extraction.
Considering that mean extraction rate is the one
effectively linked with profitability of business; one observes
that it makes little sense to have a technology capable to
reach high full extraction rates after propagation phase, if for
being able to use it, a high area ratio is required, even
though that mean extraction rate will not have a proportional
increase.
In fact, it was seen in the hypothetical situation when
restrictions imposed by caving propagation were
eliminated, current material handling system does not take
advantage from that condition and consequently it
becomes the critical technology that determines the
productivity of the whole system. With current technology,
the expectation for increasing the productivity of the
method is relatively limited, because it will be blocked at
currently levels, not exceeding 0.7 to 1.0 t/m2d. If new
technology could be able to get 2.0 t/m2d (like
Macrozanjas) or 3.0 t/m2d (like Continuous Mining
concept) as a full rate of extraction, expected profit would
be commanded by the ability to raise the rate of extraction
during caving propagation phase.
Future analysis will focus in finding new technological
elements not included in this work, as well as determining
the controlling factors of each of mentioned technological
borderlines as:
Material handling technology for conventional and future
caving method.
Capacity for adding new area.
Production and development management.
Finally, present work has introduced a different approach
to innovation management in mining industry by means of
relatively simple analysis driven by business effectiveness
indexes, to focus the efforts of research and development
on those aspects that actually governing the mining
business behavior, instead of impulse partial improvements
increasing productivity of current technology, that only tends
to give us marginal results in mining process output.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Authors are grateful to all their colleagues of IM2 that
helped them during the development of this work. Also, the
authors want to acknowledge the permission given by
Codelco Chile to publish this technical paper.
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