PT Freeport Indonesia recently completed preproduction development and construction of the Big Gossan underground copper and gold mine, located in the Ertsberg mining district of Papua, Indonesia. Production has commenced with an expected ramp-up to full production of 7000 tonnes per day in 2012. The Big Gossan utilises an open stoping mine method with paste backfill.
In order to deliver ore to the mill, which sits in a valley above the ore deposit, an underground production shaft and hoisting facility was designed and constructed as the key component of ore haulage.
The design and construction of the Big Gossan shaft posed many challenges to the project team. Available shaft design and construction expertise were limited as this was the first shaft of its kind in Indonesia and the project was undertaken during a time of high industry demand for new shaft systems. Construction resources were also limited due to the remote location and competition with existing, producing mines for these resources and skills. The project also taxed the ability of Freeport to provide services and resources to this as well as their other projects.
Completion of the Big Gossan shaft was a milestone in PT Freeport Indonesia’s plan to fully transition ore production to the underground environment in this decade.
This paper deals with the various
challenges faced by PT Freeport Indonesia and shaft contractor, PT Redpath
Indonesia, during the construction of the Big Gossan shaft and offers
suggestions to improve future shaft projects of a similar nature.
Smith, E and Agustian, I, 2011. Construction of the seven
thousand tonne per day – big Gossan production shaft, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’
pp 81-90 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: