PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (PT NHM) is an Indonesian joint venture company owned by Newcrest Mining Limited (75 per cent) and PT Aneka Tambang (Persero) (25 per cent). PT NHM operates two underground gold mines, Kencana and Toguraci at the Gosowong mine site in North Halmahera District, North Maluku Province, Indonesia.
Due to several major stope overbreak events at Toguraci, the mining method and sequence was reviewed. The method was changed from a bottom up Avoca stoping approach using waste rock as fill material and leaving sill pillars, to a top down open stope method using paste fill without sill pillars.
The revised mine plan originally had stoping progressing from the current level to the base of reserves followed by extraction of the sill pillars in the upper levels at the end of mine life. Geotechnical modelling was conducted on the revised mine plan and it was recommended that the sill pillars be taken early due to the risk of them overstressing and being difficult to recover if left until the end of mine life. The backfill material above the sill pillars is unconsolidated run-of-mine development waste rock or unconsolidated rock fill (URF).
Due to earlier attempts to extract sill pillars under URF not being successful in the upper areas of the mine, it was stipulated that the URF above the five remaining pillars must be consolidated prior to stoping. Cost benefit analysis showed this to be justifiable due to the high-grade nature of the ore locked up in the pillars.
Grout was initially planned to be injected in one pass through self-drilling anchors (SDA) in a 2.5 m pattern. Initial attempts to do this failed due to the SDA aperture and grout consistency. A modified method was employed using poly pipe installed into open holes that were drilled through the sill pillar and into the URF from below. Repeated application at each location ensured full grout consolidation. Drill holes were used to confirm grout thickness as well as add more grout. Design thickness was based on stress analysis.
Despite different URF types being present due to varying quantities of fines, the process was similar for each area. The presence of paste in the URF of one target affected the quantity of grout it received.
With a design thickness of 4–5 m of consolidation in the URF, depending on stope width and dip, each consolidated pillar (to date) maintained integrity during the stope operation. Some fall of material was anticipated; however, quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC) during grouting, staged stope extraction and careful blast design minimised fall of material.
Proudman, A, Isles, J, Lawolo, R and Forster, G, 2017. Rock fill consolidation for the extraction of sill pillar stopes at Toguraci gold mine, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 199–210 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).