Ferguson, GA, Cuello, D, Gandara, P, Potvin, Y & Rojas, E 2018, 'Strategy for research and development in the cave mining industry', in Y Potvin & J Jakubec (eds), Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 487-498.
Some four decades ago, P Tregelles, Director of the Mining Research and Development, National Coal Board, Bretby, United Kingdom, outlined a strategy upon which research and development work could maximise its contribution to the safety and productivity of the coal mining industry in the United Kingdom. Such a strategy was founded upon the progress of projects through four phases: research, development, demonstration, and exploitation. Whilst it might be said that cave mining invariably provides safe and highly productive operations, it faces a number of considerable challenges in the areas of caving mechanics, rock mass blasting, ground support, measurement of in situ rock mass properties, modifying rock mass properties (preconditioning and destressing), and monitoring the response of the rock mass to the various phases of cave mining.
In a similar fashion to the approach of Tregelles, this paper suggests the concept of establishing a global cave mining research and development framework co-ordinated within an informal network, upon which the global cave mining industry might adopt a consensus with respect to the research and development required over the next two to three decades, to maximise safety and thereby improve productivity. Commencing with a discussion and definition of present and future cave mining problems, a global strategy may be structured upon the mines best placed to study and develop solutions to specific mining problems, acting as development centres – where advances can be shared and exchanged.
Keywords: autonomous mining, cave mining variant, mudrush, numerical modelling, preconditioning, R&D
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