Ernest Henry mine (EHM) is an underground sublevel caving mine located in north-west Queensland with a production rate of 6.4 Mt/a. The mine has sublevels spaced with a 25 m vertical interval. The production process on each level starts with the drilling and firing of a blind uphole rise to start the slot extraction. These rises are fired as a single shot and routinely need to achieve a design height of 22 m to 30 m depending on the local mine geometry. If the rise fails to perform as designed then the production phase of the level is delayed with significant rework required to remedy the situation.
This paper describes the process that the EHM team has followed to improve the first time performance of each rise. The improvement process commenced with a review of results from previous rises and resulted in the identification of a number of improvement opportunities. A revised holistic approach was established for the process, which included involvement from operators and engineers. Through continued measurement and review of rise performance, inputs to the process were improved to a point where reliable results can now be expected. The successful performance of subsequent rises has been verified through a comprehensive quality assurance quality control (QA/QC) program. Before quality control processes were implemented, the success rate of blind uphole rises was only 11 per cent (one out of nine rises) at EHM. In comparison, the success rates have been vastly improved to 25 per cent (one out of four) and 75 per cent (three out of four) respectively following two stages of improvements. This paper concludes with the ‘current’ series of best practices used at EHM and recommendations.
Purvis, T and Liu, Z, 2017. Improving the performance of blind uphole rises at Ernest Henry Mine – a case study, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 335–340 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).