Authors: Contreras, C; Elmo, D; Jakubec, J; Thomas, A

Open access courtesy of:


Cite As:
Contreras, C, Elmo, D, Jakubec, J & Thomas, A 2022, 'Reviewing Laubscher’s empirical method to estimate subsidence limits', in Y Potvin (ed.), Caving 2022: Fifth International Conference on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 805-818,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The increasing global demand for mineral resources and the depletion of significant high-grade near-surface deposits is driving mining companies to consider cave mining as the ideal method to exploit large low-grade deposits at depth. A key characteristic of cave mining is the formation of a significant surface subsidence crater, which may impact nearby infrastructures, as well as have important environmental impacts. The most used empirical method in cave mining for estimating subsidence damage limits is the Laubscher method (2000). The original dataset at the core of the Laubscher chart does not reflect the conditions of the modern caves (i.e. deeper orebodies, stronger rock masses and higher production rates). In addition, there is a need to review the definition of the cave material factor. This paper explains the limitations related to the method and evaluates new cases from recent cave mining operations for checking the validity of the empirical subsidence chart.

Keywords: subsidence, empirical method, Laubscher, block caving

AMC Consultants 2012, Oyu Tolgoi Project, IDOP Technical Report.
Brady, BHG & Brown, ET 2004, Rock mechanics for underground mining, 3rd edition, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 626 p.
Bieniawski, ZT 1976, ‘Rock mass classification in rock engineering’, Proceedings Symposium on Exploration for Rock Engineering Engineering, ZT Bieniawski (ed), A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 97–106.
Brzovic, A 2010, Characterisation of primary copper ore for block caving at the El Teniente mine, Chile, PhD thesis, Western Australian School of Mines, Curtin University of Technology, Kalgoorlie.
Castro, R & Cuello, D 2018, ‘Hang-up analysis and modelling for Cadia East PC1-S1 and PC2-S1’, in Y Potvin & J Jakubec (eds), Caving 2018: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 233–246, 
Contreras, C 2016, Planificación de Largo Plazo de la envolvente de subsidencia, mina subterránea, División Salvador, Codelco Chile (Long term planning of the subsidence envelope, Underground mine, Salvador, Codelco Chile), University of Santiago, Chile.
Elmo, D, Miyoshi, T, Sun, H & Jin, AB 2017, ‘An FEM-DEM numerical approach to simulate secondary fragmentation processes’, Proceedings of the 15th International Association for Computer Methods and Geotechnics, Wuhan, China.
Esaki, T, Setianto, A, Mitani, Y, Djamaluddin, I & Ikemi, H 2009, ‘Influence of geological condition study on development of surface subsidence associated with block caving mining using GIS analysis’, International Journal of the JCRM, Japanese Committee for Rock Mechanics, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 87–93.
Falorni, G, Del Conte, S, Bellotti, F & Colombo, D 2018, ‘InSAR monitoring of subsidence induced by underground mining operations’, in Y Potvin & J Jakubec (eds), Caving 2018: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Block and Sublevel Caving, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 705–712, 
Haines, A & Terbrugge, PJ 1991, ‘Preliminary estimation of rock slope stability using rock mass classification systems’, 7th Congress of International Society of Rock Mechanics, Aachen, Germany, pp. 887–892.
Karzulovic, A 1990, ‘Evaluation of angle of break to define the subsidence of Rio Blanco Mine’s Panel III’, Technical Report, Andina Division, Codelco.
Laubscher, DH, 2000, ‘Block caving manual’, International Caving Study, JKMRC and Itasca Consulting Group, Inc, Brisbane.
Laubscher, DH, Guest, AR & Jakubec, J 2017, Guidelines on Caving Mining Methods; The Underlying Concepts, JK Publications, The University of Queensland, Australia.
Laubscher, DH & Jakubec, J 2000, The IRMR/MRMR Rock Mass Classification System for Jointed Rock Masses, SME 2000.
Lupo, J 1998, Large-scale surface disturbance resulting from underground mass mining, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Science and Geomechanics Abstracts, vol. 35, no. 4/5, p. 399.
Resolution Copper 2014, Appendix E: Subsidence Management Plan. General Plan of Operations, Resolution Copper Mining, Arizona.
Retamal, E 2018, Evolución del cráter de subsidencia y su relación con la minería subterránea, mina El Teniente de Codelco Chile (Evolution of the subsidence crater and its relationship with the underground mining, El Teniente Mine, Codelco Chile), Universidad de Santiago de Chile.
Van As, A, Davison, J & Moss, A 2003, ‘Subsidence definitions for block caving mines’, Technical Report, Rio Tinto Technical Service.
Vyazmensky, A, Elmo, D & Stead, D 2010, ‘Role of rock mass fabric and faulting in the development of block caving induced surface subsidence', Rock Mechanics Rock Engineering, vol. 43, pp. 533–556,
Wilson, A 2003, The Geology, Genesis, and Exploration Context of the Cadia Gold-Copper Porphyry Deposits, New South Wales, Australia, PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, Tasmania.
Woo, K 2011, Characterization and Analysis of Discontinuous Subsidence Associated with Block Cave Mining Using Advanced Numerical Modeling and InSAR Deformation Monitoring, PhD thesis, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Wood Plc 2018, Minera Tres Valles Copper Project, Salamanca, Coquimbo, Chile, NI43–101 Technical Report, Sprott Resource Holding Inc.
Wood Plc 2019, Cascabel Project, Northern Ecuador, Alpala Copper-Gold-Silver Deposit, NI43–101 Technical Report on Preliminary Economic Assessment, SoldGold Plc.

© Copyright 2022, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries or error reports to