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Integrated drawbell and undercut scheduling using a computational tool at the Grasberg block cave mine


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Author D Villa, C A Brannon, C A Dipas and H A Vega


The development and construction of the Grasberg block cave mine (GBC) is in progress, currently targeting initiation of caving in late 2018. Current production planning anticipates ramping up to full production of 130 000 to 160 000 t/d by 2027. As GBC approaches the production phase, there is a high priority on increasing the accuracy and level of detail in the production plan. The advance of the cave front directly controls the drawbell opening rate that is achievable. Therefore, an essential component of this plan is to produce an undercutting and drawbell sequence that honours the caving parameters that have been set for the mining blocks by the GBC production planning team.

The PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) mine planning team and the Geovia caving business unit have developed a computational tool (Undercut Tool) capable of generating an undercutting sequence that follows a set of caving rules, such as advance rate per tunnel, maximum blasted area per period, control of lead-lag and shape of the undercut face. This tool also produces a drawbell sequence that honours the undercutting advance sequence, which is ultimately used to generate a life-of-mine production plan.

This paper describes the inputs and outputs of the Undercut Tool that have been used to compute the long-term production plan for the GBC mine. It will further describe how the Undercut Tool takes into account operational constraints and geotechnical considerations that must be considered when developing a defendable production plan. Included is a discussion of the initial results of the planning outcomes from the tool; it will demonstrate how this work will support specific aspects of the plan such as the detailed undercut production drill and blast plans for the drill ring sequence, as well as how that plan will drive the drawpoint opening plan.


Villa, D, Brannon, C A, Dipas, C A and Vega, H A, 2017. Integrated drawbell and undercut scheduling using a computational tool at the Grasberg block cave mine, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 271–276 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).