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The Economic Advantages of Detailed Geotechnical Assessments for Extraction Sequencing


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Author A Bennett, S Arndt and P M Dight


Minerals and Metals Group Pty Ltd (Golden Grove Mine) commissioned a comprehensive study of the life of mine using advanced 3D stress modelling. Essential input into the modelling was the proposed mining sequence, itself the culmination of years of planning and geotechnical experience gained in comparing actual performance to predictions. The modelling approach addressed the whole of mine at a scale of 5 km. There were however several magnitudes of scale to address, from the scale of laboratory testing (0.05 m), to drive size (5 m), extraction size (50 m) and stope size (500 m). Scaling was therefore an integral part of the procedure. The constitutive rock properties in terms of peak and post-peak behaviour varied with the scale. At the laboratory scale, the constitutive relationships for all the main rock units were determined in 3D as well as recovering the in situ stress using the rock memory technique, deformation rate analysis (DRA), whereas at the larger scale the properties were varied to match observations.

The modelling, using non-linear analysis to account for rock mass yield and peak-residual strength, demonstrated that if the planned extraction sequence and stope geometry had been pursued there was a high probability of large volumes of excess shear stress being released. However, it was not possible to identify whether the excess shear stress (ESS) will release as one large event or many smaller events. The mining approach was to modify the extraction sequence/stope geometry to manage the hazard. This is where the economic advantage can be realised.

Alternatively or in combination with further modelling, the volume identified with the predicted high ESS or energy release could be intensively explored for structures having adverse orientation to the stress change and with sufficient areal extent to release the ESS. The microseismic data can be interrogated for the likelihood of a large event to support the hypothesis of a singular release versus multiple releases of smaller events. If the initial planned extraction sequence had to proceed as designed, changes to dimensioned stopes would be recommended for risk mitigation. Mine planning could as an option, modify the sequence and the extraction could then be remodelled.


Bennett, A, Arndt, S and Dight, P M, 2014. The economic
advantages of detailed geotechnical assessments for extraction sequencing, in
Proceedings 12th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 243–250 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).