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Optimisation of cemented rock fill strength for open stope support


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Author H Saw, R de Vries, J Player, R Hassell and E Villaescusa


The use of cemented rock fill (CRF) for support of open stope walls has increased in the Australian underground mines operations over the last five years due in part to its low capital cost. In open stoping the exposed CRF masses require adequate strength and stiffness, in order to resist the forces and to limit the displacement associated with movements in the rock mass surrounding the excavations. The CRF material preparation often involves the use of large particles, either from crushed rock or from development mining waste sometimes up to 1 m in diameter. However, the use of waste rock, which has a poorly graded particle size distribution may not achieve the required minimum target strength due to segregation and large air voids within the fill mass. This paper describes the optimisation of CRF strength by either crushing the waste rock or the addition of sand to the mix. Both methods increase the level of fines in the mix design. Cylindrical samples having 400 mm diameter and 800 mm heights were prepared for uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) testing. The UCS test was determined using the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) large-scale static test frame. The laboratory results were compared with a database of large-scale CRF strength mixed without sand from a number of mine sites around Australia. The comparison shows a significant strength development in the CRF mixing with addition of sand for a given cement percentage. Due to the higher strengths achieved by the addition of sand and the crushing of the waste material these CRF types require less cement to achieve the same strength. This has the potential to improve the overall economics of open stope mining due to less dilution of the exposed fill mass.


Saw, H, de Vries, R, Player, J, Hassell, R and Villaescusa, E, 2017. Optimisation of cemented rock fill strength for open stope support, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 85–90 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).