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Development of the Presink System for Raise Boring at Xstrata Copper’s Mount Isa Copper Operations


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Author G Chitumbura, T Brebner and S Wright


Raise boring is a critical aspect of mining at Xstrata Copper’s Mount Isa Copper Operations (MICO). MICO’s internal raise boring department regularly develops ventilation rises, orepasses and stope cut-off rises and reams approximately 2500 m per annum. Developed, trialled and implemented as standard practice over the past two years, procedural changes in constructing the raise bore machine’s foundations have significantly reduced operator exposure to raise boring’s inherent risks of working around open holes and manual handling. An additional cost benefit of this newly-adopted procedure is derived from reducing the likelihood of damaging the machine while de-rigging.

When conforming to standard industry raise boring practices, exposure to an open hole begins when the reamer breaks through the concrete pad and ends when it is removed from the hole – a process which, depending on the size of the hole and the raise boring machine, can take up to three days to complete. Although wearing fall restraint equipment, operators working on and around the raise bore machine during de-rigging are continually exposed to the risk of falling from heights. In contrast, MICO’s newly-developed and successfully-implemented presink raise boring system reduces this exposure to a maximum of four hours, regardless of hole size. Exposure to manual handling hazards is also substantially reduced as the presink procedure eliminates manual placement of a 100 kg drill bit under the machine to commence pilot-hole drilling.

Outcomes of implementing the presink System at MICO have been so beneficial that it is now standard procedure for all reaming in excess of 1 m diameters.

Chitumbura, G,
Brebner, T and Wright, S, 2011. Development of the presink
system for raise boring at Xstrata Copper’s Mount Isa copper operations, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’

pp 29-34 (The Australasian
Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).