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Day 3: Mining Methods

Part I-Surface mining


Mining Methods
Surface mining and underground mining The mining cycle Equipment Is bigger better? Grade control

Why do we mine minerals?

Anatomy of a mine: Grasberg, West Papua

Pro .u Dr .H .Z .e Hr a az esentation Figure from Spitz and Tfr d in g ,rr2 0P 0r9

Mining Methods, Surface mining


Mineral extraction: from mining to metal

Grinding of ore to allow separation of the ore minerals

Mineral Concentrate:
Concentration of ore minerals: removes the ore mineral from the waste.


Smelting: removes the metal from the ore mineral by a variety of ways

5 Figure from Spitz and Trudinger, 2009

Mining methods:
Surface mining 1. Mechanical excavation methods 1. Open-pit (or Open-cut or Open-cast or quarry) mining. 2. Terrace mining. 3. Strip (flat terrain) mining 4. Contour strip (hilly terrain) mining 2. Aqueous methods 1. Placer mining. 2. In-situ leaching (ISL)/ solution mining . Underground mining 1. Unsupported Mining Methods: a) Room and Pillar mining. b) Stope and pillar mining. c) Shrinkage Stoping. 2. Supported Mining Methods: a) Cut and fill mining. b) Stull stoping. 3. Caving Mining (or Bulk) methods: a) Longwall stoping. b) Vertical crater retreat. c) Sublevel caving. d) Block caving.

Mining Methods, Surface mining

Schematic of common mining methods

Simple in concept, highly engineered for efficiency. Very high waste rock volume. Better safety record.

Used for laterally extensive deposits. Overburden cast directly back into mined out panels. Rehabilitation keeps pace with mining.

Reduced waste rock production. Poor safety record.

Used for soluble ores: uranium, salt, potash. Minimal waste production: only water wastes, no solids.
Figure from Spitz and Trudinger, 2009

Choice of mining method:

What determines the type of mining?

The choice of mining method depends on many factors, including: 1) Shape of the orebody: tabular, cylindrical, spherical. 2) Orientation of the orebody: sub-horizontal, sub-vertical. 3) Continuity of the orebody. 4) Size of the ore body. 5) Distribution of ore-bearing minerals within the orebody: massive or disseminated (with a cut-off grade). 7) Depth to the orebody. 8) Depth of overburden. 9) Strength of the orebody and overburden/host-rocks rocks. 10) Area of land available for waste disposal open-pit mines cover a larger surface area and generate a greater volume of wastes. 11) Impacts on surface: environnemental, surface drainage and subsurface aquifers, land-use changes, social. 12) Rehabilitation concerns. 13) Projected production rates. 14) Capital costs, rate of (financial recovery), cash-flow. 15) Safety concerns: surface mining methods have a better safety record.

Traditional mining methods fall into two broad categories based on locale: surface or underground. 1) Surface mining: includes i) Mechanical excavation methods {such as
Open-pit (or Open-cut or Open-cast); Terrace; and Strip mining}.

Aqueous methods {such as placer and solution mining}. 2) Underground mining: is usually classified in three categories of methods: unsupported, supported, and caving.


Figure shows morphology of surface(Open Pit) and Underground methods.

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Comparison of waste production for surface and underground mining:

Data are for USA in 1997 (from Hartman and Mutmansky, 2002), in million tons. Surface Commodity Ore Waste Total Ore Underground Waste Total Ore All Mining Waste Total

(million tons) Metals Nonmetals Coal Total 1,290 2778 669 4,737 1863 449 10303 12,615 3,153 3,227 10,972 17,352 64 123 421 608 3 0 45 48 67 123 466 656 1,354 2,901 1,090 5,345 1,866 449 10,348 12,663 3,220 3,350 11,438 18,008

Surface mining Waste = 73% of total rock tonnage extracted 266% of ore tonnage extracted

Underground mining Waste = 7% of total rock tonnage extracted 9% of ore tonnage extracted

Pit excavation initially generates huge volumes of waste rock that must be removed to allow access the orebody, and to allow stable pit slopes to be developed.

Processes and Considerations

Surface disturbs large area produces large amounts of spoil relatively safe cheaper more efficient Underground disturbs much smaller surface area spoil often left in mine dangerous expensive less efficient

US Mining Trends

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Surface mining:
This is the traditional cone-shaped excavation (although it can be any shape, depending on the size and shape of the orebody) that is used when the ore body is typically pipe-shaped, vein-type, steeply dipping stratified or irregular. Although it is most often associated with metallic orebodies, (e.g., Palabora copper, Mamatwan and Sishen iron-ore), it can be used for any deposit that suits the geometry most typically diamond pipes (e.g., Venetia, Koffiefontein and Finsch).

Surface mining is the predominant exploitation method worldwide. In the USA, surface mining contributes about 85% of all minerals exploitation (excluding petroleum and natural gas). Almost all metallic ore (98%) and non-metallic ore (97%), and 61% of the coal is mined using surface methods in the USA (Hartman and Mutmansky, 2002).

Surface mining requires large capital investment (primarily expensive transportation equipment), but generally results in: High productivity (i.e., high output rate of ore). Low operating costs. Safer working conditions and a better safety record than underground mining.
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Surface Mining methods

Controls of Gold Mineralization - LCS

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Steps of Surface Mining Operation

Strip out overburden (becomes spoils) Traditional surface mining methods fall into two broad categories based on locale: 1) Surface mining: includes i) Mechanical excavation methods {such as
Open-pit (or Open-cut or Open-cast); Terrace; and Strip mining}.


Aqueous methods {such as placer and Insitu leaching (ISL)/ solution mining }.

Clean up (reclamation)


1. Mechanical Extraction Method

a thick deposit is generally mined in benches or steps, although thin deposits may require only a single bench or face. Of all the variations of mechanical surface excavation mining methods available, the three most common methods only will be described here, namely:
1. 2. 3. 4. Open-pit (or Open-cut or Open-cast or quarry) mining. Terrace mining. Strip (flat terrain) mining. Contour strip (hilly terrain) mining.


1.1. Open pit Mining method

Mine working open to the surface. Operation designed to extract minerals that lie close to the surface It is used when the orebody is near the surface and little overburden (waste rock) needs to be removed. It is usually employed to exploit a near-surface deposit or one that has a low stripping ratio. Waste is first removed, then the ore is broken and loaded. Generally low grade, shallow ore bodies. Non-selective all high and low grade zones mined Mining rate > 20,000 tons mined per day (tpd). It often necessitates a large capital investment but generally results in high productivity, low operating cost, and good safety conditions. Design issues:

Stripping overburden Location of haul roads Equipment size of trucks and fleet Pit slope angle and stability
Surface Mining methods (Open pit Mining method)


Open-pit mine: Chuquicamata copper mine, Regin de Antofagasta, Chile

Access ramps

Locality: Regin de Antofagasta, Chile. Slope failure Pit dimensions: 4.3 km long x 3 km wide x 850 m deep. Mining dates: 1915 -present Total production: 29 million tons of copper to the end of 2007 (excluding Radomiro Toi production). For many years it was the mine with the largest annual production in the world, but was recently overtaken by Minera Escondida (Chile). It remains the mine with the largest total cumulative production. Production 2007: 896,308 fine metric tons of copper (Codelco, 2007). Mining cost in 2007: 48.5 US per kg (2006), 73.0 US per kg (2007) (Codelco, 2007). Employees: 8,420 as of 31st 2007 (Codelco, 2007). Pre-tax profits: US$ 9.215 billion (2006), US$ 8,451 billion (2007) (Codelco, 2007).




Overburden Removal


Some photos and machinery used in open-pit mining

A Dragline Shovel

Loading ore in pit


Mining Trucks

Crushing in pit

Drilling in pit

*To the left is a photograph of a Liebherr 360 ton (327 metric ton) haul truck. This unit is powered by a 2750 horse power engine and weighs 443,000 pounds (177 tons) empty...


Bench Weight

Beam Weight

Floor Angle

Slope crest Top

Slope Interval

Overall slope

Figure showing typical open-pit bench terminology

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Figure 2.8 Open-pit mining sequence (for pipe-like orebody)

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Various open-pit and orebody configurations

Flat lying seam or bed, flat terrain (Example platinum reefs, coal).

Massive deposit, flat terrain (Example iron-ore or sulphide deposits).

Dipping seam or bed, flat terrain (Example anthracite).

Massive deposit, high relief (Example copper sulphide).

Thick bedded deposits, little overburden, flat terrain (Example iron ore, coal).
Figure from Hartman and Mutmansky, 2002.
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1.2. Open Pit Stability

i) Pit Slopes

i) Pit slope ii) Pit wall stability iii) Rock strength iv) Pit Depth v) Pit diameter vi) Water Damage vii) Strip Ratio (SR)

Pit slopes are cut into benches to aid stability and contain any slope failures. Rock most be stronger than sand so the angle of repose can be larger . 45 is usually the maximum slope. Pit slopes are benched. The revenue from ore must pay for the cost of excavating waste from the pushback and for excavating the ore. The slope cannot exceed 45 and remain stable, so at some point it becomes impossible and/or uneconomic to continue mining.
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ii) Pit Wall Stability

Stable Instable: o Underlying fracture or fault o Magma o landslide

Most orebodies are related to faulting in the earth's crust. Fault generates stresses in the host rock, rupturing it and causing faults in the rock (Figure 2). Faults are typically long linear features so that if a circular pit is used to mine an orebody (Figure 3), it is likely to intersect a fault at two points, which leads to instability in at least two parts of the pit slope.

Figure 2

Figure 3


Figure 4 shows a landslide that occurred following rain storms. A berm was created at the base of the slide to protect the main

haul road.

Figure 5 shows a major instability. The likely cause is an underlying fracture or fault. The mine wishes to do a major pushback on this pit wall in order to gain access to more ore. This could be a challenging task.


iii) Water Damage

Pit most keep dry Dewatering also helps to keep the slopes dry and more stable.

In order to keep the pit dry, There are 40 dewatering pumps around the Cortez pit pumping water out of the ground at a total rate of 30,000 gallons per minute (Figures 6 and 7).
14 November 2011 Prof. Dr . H.Z. Harraz Presentation Mining Methods, Surface mining

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What happens when water accumulates? On October 9, 2003, a major landslide occurred, causing perhaps eight fatalities at the Grasberg Mine, Indonesia (Figures 8 and 9).

The accident was related to heavy rainfall and accumulation of water in the soil layer at the top of the pit.
14 November 2011
Prof. Dr . H.Z. Harraz Presentation Mining Methods, Surface mining

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Open-pit slope failure case study groundwater problems

A slope failure occurred at the Cleo Open Pit (Sunrise Dam Gold Mine, Western Australia) in December 2000. At the time of failure the pit-floor was at 100 m depth below surface.
Two critical factors played a role in the failure: The top of the water table is at a very high level: only 30 m below surface A strong layer of younger clay sediments overlies weaker weathered bedrock. The failure is thought to be due to very high pore fluid pressures in the weathered bedrock that created an instability at the interface between the bedrock and the overlying clays, allowing a slippage to occur (Speight, 2002).
14 November 2011
Prof. Dr. H.Z. Harraz Presentation Mining Methods, Surface mining

Seepage and mineral precipitation

Figures modified from Speight, 3 26 0 302. 2

Examples of Open Pit Mining Method

Highland Valley Pit, British Columbia

Porphyry copper 137,000 tons mined/day (tpd) 296 Mt reserves: 0.42% Cu 0.008% Mo Cu, Mo concentrates with gold and silver


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1.3. Strip Mining

Strip mining is ideally applied where the surface of the ground and the ore body itself are relatively horizontal and not too deep under the surface, and a wide area is available to be mined in a series of strips. Typical examples of this type of mining are the larger tonnage coal mining operations in Mpumulanga.
Favourable conditions are: Relatively thin overburden (0-50m maximum otherwise stripping ration and cost of stripping becomes too high) Regular and constant surface topography and coal layers (not more than 20 variation from horizontal on the coal seam topography can vary more since prestripping can be used to level it but this is expensive to apply) Extensive area of reserves (to give adequate life of mine (LOM) and to cover all capital loan repayments typically more than 20 years life at 4-14mt per annum production)

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Area Strip Mine (Coal)


Figure shows Strip mining with dragline (on overburden) and rope shovel (below, loading coal)

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1.4. Contour strip (hilly terrain) mining or Contour (Bench) Strip Mining


Prof. Dr. H.Z. Harraz Presentation

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Mining Process




Drilling | Blasting | Loading | Hauling | Transporting | Processing/Washing

Drill machines (rotary/percussive) | SMS, emulsion, Primer, Nonel, etc | Shovels, Draglines, etc | Front-end loader, etc IN-PIT CRUSHING & | CONVEYING Dumpers, Conveyors, etc | Coal washeries

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Selection of Mining Equipment

Stripping Ratio in case of Opencast. Life of the mine. Infrastructure available. Proposed annual output. Technology available.

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