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Shaft vs. Ramp Access
From Queen's University Mine Design Wiki

This article is about the selection of an access method in order to create an infrastructure for the
transport of ore, workers, and equipment in "underground mining projects".

Mine access is the method of which both people and equipment are able to get to and from an
underground orebody. The selection of a proper access method is crucial to the overall design of the
mine, since it is a long term decision that requires extensive time and capital. The two most common
methods of underground mine access to be compared are ramp and shaft access. A variety of
parameters must be understood and examined before proper access can be determined and designed,
these include: Depth of mining, orebody geometry, production rates and rock quality.


1 Types of Mine Access

o 1.1 Shaft Access

 1.1.1 Development Requirements

 1.1.2 Costing

 1.1.3 Advantages of Using a Shaft

 1.1.4 Disadvantages of Using a Shaft

o 1.2 Ramp Access

 1.2.1 Development Requirements

 1.2.2 Costing

 1.2.3 Advantages of Ramp Access

or a winze.1. Generally this system is best suited for deeper mines that will require higher production rates.1 Shaft  2.3 Other 3 References Types of Mine Access Shaft Access Figure 1 .2. Shaft access can also be utilized through an internal shaft.2 Ramp  2.  1.Underground shaft layout[1] Shaft access utilizes a skip and hoisting system in order to transport workers and materials through a vertical passage located near the orebody.4 Disadvantages of Ramp Access 2 Decision Analysis o 2.1. The top of the winze is located underground and usually offset from the initial mode of access in order to get access to deeper .1. This type of access is most commonly utilized in the case of deep lenses that extend past the initial mine life. A general rule of thumb states that a mine that has the potential to go deeper than 500m or plans to have production rates over 400000t/year will be best suited to a shaft [2].1 Summary of Factors  2.

pockets of the orebody. These prices are detailed from Cost Mine services in table 1 and 2 below. Production shafts are usually driven using traditional drilling and blasting methods with the use of a shaft mucker that is lowered down the shaft to pull out blasted materials. offset on the footwall side. so a balance must be considered. This is not a requirement if ramp haulage is to be used. The development of a winze can differ slightly from that of a conventional shaft since raise bore technology can be used to ream the internal shaft. Development Requirements Figure 1 shows a general layout of what it required in a shaft access and handling system. In most cases the task of shaft sinking is allocated to a contractor who can usually advance between 3 and 5 vertical meters per day [3]. As well included in table 3 is the costing structure for an internal raise bored winze. As can also be seen from this diagram. an ore pass exists which utilizes gravity to transport material from each level down to the skip where it can be brought to surface.Circular Shaft Costs[4] . a large distance away from the orebody means higher operating costs from extensive materials handling. However. Shafts are usually located along the centroid of the orebody. It should be located at a large enough distance away to ensure that once the orebody is mined out the integrity of the shaft is not compromised. Table 1 . Click here for more information on Shaft construction Costing Costs for shaft development are heavily dependent on the rock type that is being worked with as well as the desired shape of the shaft.

Raisebore Shaft Costs[4] .Table 2 .Rectangular Shaft Costs[4] Table 3 .

Advantages of Using a Shaft • Higher production capabilities • More versatile with depth • Smaller excavation. requires less support Disadvantages of Using a Shaft • Much longer to development • Higher upfront capital Ramp Access .

8 m/man shift for competent crews.0633 m3/s of volumetric airflow will be required per [1] kilowatt of operating or installed diesel equipment. and ventilation considerations. physical dimensions of the equipment as well as ventilation requirements need to be considered. but will vary based on what is selected.7-0.5 m/man shift for an inexperienced crew. [3] I should be noted that ramps allow increased equipment mobility between levels when compared to shafts. This allows the size of equipment fleets to be minimized. A good rule of thumb is that 0.3-0.Figure 2 . It is common for the required turning radius for equipment to be 15m to 30m. While one must consider equipment capabilities for the decline grade.0-1.5 m/s and 3 m/s [1] to ensure proper air circulation without creating difficult working . particularly where a decline portal can be sited within an existing open pit [2]. productivities. The slope of a ramp is determined by the capacity of vehicles to negotiate declines.25 m/man shift for exceptionally productive crews.blast. Development Requirements In order to drive an access ramp. 0. Ramps can be driven at grades ranging up to 20%. equipment selection. and utilization of equipment to increase. but are usually restricted to no [3] more than 16% if they are to be used for truck transport of stope muck. [1] In designing a ramp. muck and bolt). conventional drill and blast methods are usually employed (drill. [6] It is also important to consider ventilation requirements for the equipment travelling on the ramp.Underground ramp layout[5] Ramp access in a mine consists of driving a down-sloped heading with horizontal curves in order to transport mobile rubber-tired equipment from surface to the orebody. with average advance rates being is as follows: 0. as shown in Figure 3 below. Also. with 15% grades being common. air velocities in haulage and travelway ramps should be between 0. as noted above. Ramp access is attractive for shallow orebodies. and 1. with 12% [1] in curves and 10% at level intersections The economic depth limit to which a single ramp access mine can extend is governed by haulage costs. one must first consider the capabilities of the equipment that will be travelling on the ramps. scale.

etc. ventilation. consumables (bits. As such. explosives. maintenance cost of trucks. it is common for ventilation requirements to have a significant influence on the face area of access ramps. Operating costs for a ramp accessed mining operation will vary greatly between mining operations.conditions. steels.Ramping Costs[4] Advantages of Ramp Access . Costing Factors affecting the capital cost of driving a ramp include operating & maintenance cost of excavation equipment. A summary table of standard costs per linear metre of advance is show below. oil.)and manpower [1]. ground support material. grading and labour costs. Table 4 .) $/hour of operation. $ / hour of operation. but contributing costs include: operating cost of trucks (fuel. etc. tires.

as well as also becoming shallower as required productivities increase [2]. McCarthy and Livingston determined the feasibility limits of ramp access to be around 800m and 1. 350m was a highly quoted number for the depth at which shaft access is superior. The two flow charts shown below outline relevant factors in deciding between a ramp or shaft access method: . In the past. Other important conclusions include that the optimum changeover depth from decline haulage to shaft hoisting becomes shallower as the mine life increases. creating the highest possible return for investors. in an attempt to optimize the decision from a financial basis. In fact. When building a case for each of the options it is important to create a defensible cash flow analysis for each. It should go beyond back-of-the-envelope type calculations and demonstrate due diligence in researching. and substantiating estimations and projections. the question of mine access decisions is often asked in terms of at what depth is ramp access no longer the most economical option. set by truck performance and ventilation. but with improvements in diesel truck technology over the years. and thereby the mining method.• Quicker advance rates in development stage allows faster access to ore • Generally lower capital cost to develop • Flexible production based on equipment selection • Increased equipment mobility between levels Disadvantages of Ramp Access • Less productive than shaft access • High operating costs as depth increases • May require extensive ground support in poor rock conditions Decision Analysis Due to the higher capital costs associated with shaft access. After all. access can be the determining factor in a mines production rate. These cash flows should reflect the reality of operating conditions specific to the access method selected. The result then trickles down creating differences in mining and milling costs due to economies of scale and other factors. It is then necessary to build a case for each option. Due to the non-universality of access selection it is important that steps are taken to optimize the decision. equipment expenditures and working capital requirements can also vary widely between the options.2millon tons per annum (Mtpa). this figure may no longer be universally valid [2]. Moreover.

Mine Access Flowchart[1] Summary of Factors Shaft Mining and Milling Constraints • Method of Shaft Construction • Cross Sectional Area • Shaft Lining • Shaft Layout • Hoisting System • Cage for Transport of Men & Equipment • Type & Number of Ore Skips • Headframe Construction • Crushing Station • Shaft Lining • Collar Construction • Loading Pockets • Sinking Rate Ramp Mining and Milling Constraints • Cross Sectional Area • Advance Rate • Ramp Grade • Ramp Lining & Ground Support • Transport of Men and Equipment • Truck Size & Number • Portal Construction • Level Interval & Layout • Equipment Flexibility Other Discount Rate • Level Stations • Level Interval • Geotechnical Competence .Figure 3 .

2 1. Retrieved February 09.5 1. (n.). Shaft or Decline? An Economic Comparison 3. Mine Cost Service.1 2. 2011. Ontario. Spokane Valley: Jennifer B. 8-48.2 McIsaac. L. Mine 244 Underground Mining Course Notes. (1993).d. ↑ 4. ↑ 2. Course Notes . Optimisation in the design of underground mine access. Kingston. (2010). G. Mine Access.6 DeSouza.).3 InfoMine USA. from Oriel Resources Web site: http://www.0 2. D. Inc.0 1. Ontario. Melbourne.1 1. E. P. Kingston.2 4.2 2. Australia: University of Melbourne . Leinart 5. (n. ↑ Oriel Resources.References 1. (2009).0 3.asp 6. ↑ 3.d. Canada: Queen's University 4.3 1. Canada 2. Uncertainty and Risk Management in Orebody Modelling and Strategic Mine Planning . ↑ M Brazil.3 McCarthy. (2008). VOSKHOD MINE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT. L.orielresources. ↑ 1.4 1.1 3.1 4.