Authors: Nguz Tshisens, J; Moss, A; Sullivan, M; Yuniar, A; Casten, T; Zimmer, C

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Nguz Tshisens, J, Moss, A, Sullivan, M, Yuniar, A, Casten, T & Zimmer, C 2022, 'Organising for the successful management of complex underground caving mines', in Y Potvin (ed.), Caving 2022: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 81-94,

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The number of caving mines is increasing worldwide, with several new mines under development. While the technical challenges of caving are well known, they are not necessarily well understood. The execution of a development and operations plan is a complex process constrained by the realities of access, construction, ventilation, and mucking requirements, as well as uncertainties in ground conditions and rock mass response during caving. An equally important challenge exists around the organisation and management of resources to build and operate such mines. The challenges require a flexible and collaborative approach from the start that is based on sound engineering and performance measurement. The success of such an approach is illustrated through the progress of the PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) caves from the study stage to access development, infrastructure construction, cave establishment and ramping-up to the current production rate of 200,000 tons per day. Many technical lessons were learned along the way and various technologies were used to meet the challenges. More importantly was the creation of a coherent execution group with a clearly defined leadership team. Central to this was an underground steering committee comprising senior representatives from operations, engineering, geo-engineering, and safety. The committee’s mandate was to determine solutions that addressed the strategic and tactical needs of the business rather than the short-term gains of the project. The collaborative leadership model used by PTFI was instrumental in the successful ramp-up of one of the largest caving complexes in the world.

Keywords: caving, mines, collaborative, leadership, committee

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