An alternative stoping method has been adopted for narrow vein stoping at the Tasmania Mine in Northern Tasmania. Colloquially described as ‘Radial-in-Reef’ (RiR) stoping, the method employs the drilling of radial rings in the plane of the Reef from a drill stub located at the geographic centre of the proposed stope panel.
Production from the Western Zone of the Tasmania Reef has been undertaken remotely from the Reef since 2007, after a detailed geotechnical engineering analysis indicated that the integrity of the sill drives could not guarantee an acceptable level of confidence should an anticipated seismic event occur within a radius of 10 m. The key tenet of the remote mining approach was the exclusion of personnel from sill drives once stoping had commenced. The remote mining method had to be ‘retrofitted’ to four existing stoping blocks totalling 11 sill drives which totalled 160 m vertically. The remote mining method proved to be complex, cumbersome and very expensive. However, the ore was extracted successfully.
By early 2010, previously developed
ore had largely been exhausted and the future development with an orebody open
at depth presented the opportunity to review the current extraction method.
However, the new extraction method needed to maintain the tenet of excluding
personnel from sill drives of active stoping blocks, but seek opportunities to
reduce the difficult and costly aspects of the previous method. The new
‘Radial-in-Reef’ stoping reduced the development requirement from six to two
drives per ore block. Cost implications aside, the significant reduction in
prestoping extraction ratio was expected to also reduce the likelihood of
seismicity. Transverse production rings were designed to be drilled radially
from a drill stub mined from a mid-stope footwall drive. Stopes totalling up to
7000 tonnes were planned be fired in a single electronic blast. Extraction was
designed to take place from a basal sill drive under teleremote operation. At
the time of writing, the method was under trial.
Goddard, R and
Hills, P B, 2011. The
development of ‘radial-in-reef’ stoping at the Tasmania gold mine, Beaconsfield,
Tasmania, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’
pp 55-62 (The Australasian Institute of Mining
and Metallurgy: Melbourne).