Authors: Saepulloh, D; Hassell, R; Albrecht, J

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Saepulloh, D, Hassell, R & Albrecht, J 2022, 'Managing the risk of uncontrolled flow of material (mudrush) at Argyle Diamond Mine', in Y Potvin (ed.), Caving 2022: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 583-596,

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The Argyle Diamond Mine (ADM) was an underground block caving operation located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The underground mine was operated from 2012 to December 2020. The mine is located in a tropical climate with very high monsoonal rainfalls, ranging from 600 mm to 1,800 mm during the annual wet season (December to March). A combination of high monsoonal rainfall, significant groundwater inflows, cave connection to the pit surface, and a high proportion of fines in the cave column contributed to a high number of mudrush events over the production life of the Argyle underground mine. The term ‘uncontrolled flow of material’ (UFM) was used at ADM instead of mudrush. UFM events was one of the critical risks to personnel safety at the ADM block caving mine during its operation. Over the life of the underground mine, more than 1,200 UFM events occurred, approximately 2 to 3 events every week during production of the cave. The UFM events typically ranged in size from 5 m³ to 4,000 m³. However, an extreme UFM event occurred in February 2020 that rapidly discharged 18,000 m³ material from the drawpoints, covering large sections of the extraction level and engulfing one of the underground crushers. Despite the risk to personnel that UFM events posed at ADM, there were no recorded injuries over the mine life. The effective management of these events was critical to ensure the safety of underground personnel and to achieve production targets. This paper details the risk management controls that were put in place to manage the risk of UFM events at ADM.

Keywords: block caving, uncontrolled flow of material, mudrush

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