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Shaft construction at the Gold Fields Wallaby mine


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Author R A Murrell and J Graaf


Gold Fields Australia is constructing two major ventilation shafts at the Wallaby gold mine in Western Australia. The new ventilation shafts are required to facilitate the long term ventilation strategy for the mine, thereby allowing continued extraction of ore beyond 1000 m below the surface. The construction work has involved all of the challenges that shaft construction can throw up, including challenging geotechnical conditions, unexpected high water inflows and major circulation loss during pilot hole drilling for raise boring.

An extensive geotechnical and hydrological investigation program was undertaken prior to awarding the shaft construction contracts. While most of the risks were identified, several proved to be much more challenging than expected.

The shaft construction methods included conventional sinking into the fresh rock profile in each shaft, followed by raise bore pilot hole drilling and reaming. A headframe was constructed for the first shaft, which was sunk to 92 m with a stage suspended in the shaft to facilitate the concrete lining and provide rope guides for the kibble winding. Drawing from experience when sinking the first shaft, additional ground pre-conditioning was implemented for the second shaft, which was pre-supported with continuous piles to 28 m followed by sinking to 50 m using a crane instead of winders and a headframe. Following the conventional sinking through the weathered zone in each shaft, the shafts were completed using a raise bore. The first shaft utilised a riser pipe and rotary vertical drilling system (RVDS) with the second shaft having utilised a dual rotary rig for pilot hole drilling.

This paper reviews the site investigations undertaken, construction methodologies applied, the results achieved and the lessons learnt.


Murrell, R A and Graaf, J, 2017. Shaft construction at the Gold Fields Wallaby mine, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 321–334 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).