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The Development of Hilton Mine, 1947-1985


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Author Black B N and Mutton B K


Hilton Mine is being developed as an integrated component of the Mount Isa operation, to achieve continuity of silver/lead/zinc production well into the next century. The mine has a chequered history from its discovery in 1947 through several periods of intense development activity, each of which has been curtailed due to the further development of the Isa Mine operation. This era has now passed; to sustain increased production rates at Mount Isa, there is a requirement for Hilton ore in 1989. The decision was made in 1983 to accelerate the programme of Hilton development by installing skip hoisting facilities in the main service shaft (P49), to facilitate the development of the mine to pre-production status. The Hilton development plan provides for the mining of selected orebodies, a broadening of the underground exploration drilling programme, and the establishment of significant mine infrastructure. Several technical challenges have been identified as important. The Hilton orebodies, although occurring in the same rock type as Isa Mine, are more faulted, jointed and intersected by intrusive dykes. The ore is more variable in terms of ore continuity, boundaries, grade and metal distribution and the mineralogy more complex. As a consequence the development of this project consists of a co-ordinated programme of mine exploration and development, rock mechanics investigations and metallurgical research and development work. Production will commence in 1986 at a rate of 1000 t/day using mechanized cut and fill techniques. It is planned to introduce sublevel open stoping and by 1996/97 the production rate will be 2.5 million t/yr.