Authors: Shelswell, KJ; Labrecque, PO; Morrison, DM

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Shelswell, KJ, Labrecque, PO & Morrison, DM 2018, 'Increasing productive capacity in block caving mines', in Y Potvin & J Jakubec (eds), Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 107-118.

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The block caving method requires the effective management of the induced stress conditions and the ore production system. We believe that the primary focus should be on the strategic design of the ore production system that will facilitate the management of the development activities involved in expanding the production footprint. A discrete event simulation was designed to quantify the impact of drawpoint loading methodologies on the productive capacity of block caving extraction footprints. The analysis of a conventional load–haul–dump (LHD) batch production process means it is very difficult for a 300 m wide footprint to reliably achieve a target of 100,000 tpd. It is always possible to increase the number of active extraction drives and the number of LHDs but this also increases the production cost and creates logistical problems. The analysis also shows that mine production rates much greater than 100,000 tpd can only be achieved by a continuous production system. This approach concentrates production within a smaller area with the potential for steeper caving angles. Higher production rates also shorten the life of drawpoints and reduce the risk of drawpoint failure. We believe the transition from a batch production system to a continuous production system will reduce the cost of production of current block caving operations and is essential if block caving operations are to reliably achieve production rates that are much higher than today. Keywords: discrete event simulation, block caving productivity, continuous production system


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