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The CSA ventilation upgrade – geotechnical challenges and learnings


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Author D Sidea and T M Brettell


The CSA Mine is located in Cobar, New South Wales and is operated by Glencore. Large scale underground production started from 1965, with zinc, lead, silver and copper extracted in the past. The current operations focus on copper, with a silver co-product.

From 2014 to 2016, Cobar Management Pty Ltd (CMPL) undertook a major capital project to upgrade the primary ventilation system at the CSA Mine. This involved the development of ten raises using full-face raise boring from surface to a depth of 1450 m. The total length of the raises was approximately 2500 m.

Geotechnical conditions were identified as a key project risk during the early planning stages of the project. Timely quantification of the geotechnical risks was required to minimise project delays and cost overruns. Geotechnical investigations were planned and conducted for each raise prior to pilot drilling and full-face back reaming.

Nine of the ten raises had final wall camera and laser baseline surveys completed following full-face reaming. The surveys were conducted progressively, allowing ongoing back analysis and calibration of geotechnical evaluations as the project advanced.

This paper presents the design and planning process of the raise bored excavations. It details the geotechnical investigation work undertaken to mitigate the geotechnical risks and the challenges and learnings from the project including the benefits of close collaboration between the parties involved.


Sidea, D and Brettell, T M, 2017. The CSA ventilation upgrade – geotechnical challenges and learnings, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 341–352 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).