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Determination of the Transition Point from Open Pit to Underground Mining


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Author J Chung, M Asad, E Topal and A K Ghosh


Many open pit (OP) mines with considerable vertical extent are approaching the end of their life-of-mine; some of them are seeking the opportunity to make the transition from OP to underground (UG) mining. The decision on the best location for transition from OP to UG mining should be addressed at the strategic mine planning stage. Conservatively, the transition to UG mining is considered near or after the exhaustion of the reserve within the ultimate pit.

However, if UG is evident and exclusively viable from the inception, defining the best location for the transition through a conservative approach may not be an optimal option to explore. This clearly establishes the need for a mathematical model that aims to maximise the project value and considers OP and UG mining with crown pillar (CP) requirement simultaneously. Underground mine layout varies from one UG mining method to the other, and consequently the variation in the location of transition is eminent. Thus, focus on the selection of UG mining method must be a part of this analysis

This paper presents an implementation of an integer programming (IP) based mathematical model that evaluates the changes in mining layout and the project value under possible variation in the transition point from OP to UG mining for stoping and block caving methods. An IP problem is a mathematical optimisation or feasibility method in which some or all of the variables are restricted to be integers. The outcome of the implementation reflects that mining strategies with OP transition to stoping and block caving methods generated higher values than OP-only mining strategy. The case study not only demonstrates the difference in mining layout for both stoping method and block caving method, but also reflects that a joint consideration of OP mining, UG mining and CP placement helps to achieve maximum project value and resource utilisation.


Darbritz, J, 2016. Remediation of Wall Failure at Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines’ Golden Pike Cut-back 2016, in Proceedings Ninth AusIMM Open Pit Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 96–103 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).