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, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 273-284.
Understanding particle flow is crucial to the success of block and sublevel caving operations. Even though the gravity flow of caved rock has been studied almost since caving methods were introduced, its mechanisms are still far from understood. One key aspect of gravity flow that has the potential to significantly accelerate dilution ingress is the percolation of fine particles. Although percolation has many forms, in mining, percolation predominantly occurs during shear when fine particles are exposed to the void structure of the coarse matrix, allowing fines to find and percolate through the voids between coarse particles. Therefore, it is believed that percolation of fine particles has the potential to significantly affect dilution, segregation and overall ore recovery in sublevel and block caving.
Particle percolation occurs in many large scale particle assemblies composed of geomaterials. Examples include rock piles, tailing dumps, retaining walls, block caves and sublevel caves. Because of the scale of these systems, very little experimental data has been collected to understand and validate the mechanisms and parameters controlling fine particle percolation. This paper reviews the percolation in mining, with reference to relevant findings by other researchers in related disciplines.
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