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Mine Development Optimisation – An Evolutionary Process


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Author J Kovacs


Underground development drill and blast practices have generally remained unchanged for decades. Historically, development optimisation has focused mainly on the application of perimeter control products in order to reduce overbreak, and efficiencies in development cycle times to increase advance rates. In today’s environment of ever increasing operating costs and lower ore grades, it has become even more critical to focus on the optimisation of drill and blast in development mining. It is a crucial component in ensuring mining schedules are maintained, but more importantly achieving the objective of getting to the orebody in the shortest possible time.

This paper will focus on the development optimisation process used in a trial at Xstrata’s George Fisher Mine in North Queensland. Not only did the trial include the typical optimisation areas of charge loading practices, perimeter control methods, drill design standardisation and quality control processes, it also investigated the significance of delay accuracy with regards to perimeter control and drill design optimisation.

One of the key measures of the trial was a comparative analysis between baseline development and development with the staged introduction of optimisation elements using 3D photogrammetry as a validation tool. A detailed cost analysis between the various stages was also a key measurable of the trial.

results of the work undertaken at George Fisher have shown that the accuracy of
electronic detonators can produce significant benefits in development blasting.
When combined with standard optimisation philosophies a substantial reduction in
overbreak, ground support requirements and development cycle times can be
achieved, whilst still being able to reduce the overall development operating


Kovacs, J, 2014. Mine development
optimisation – an evolutionary process, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM
Underground Operators’ Conference 2014
, pp 51–56 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).