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The Role of Rock Mechanics Models in Maximising Orebody Recovery


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Author Cowling R


Selection of mining methods, stope dimensions and stoping sequences is usually based on comparisons with other similar orebodies or rocktypes. Rock mechanics principles assist the process, which can be further improved by application of rock mechanics’ models – in particular, computer based stress analysis techniques. These models vary in capabilities and potential application but, basically, can be subdivided into techniques which only model the surface of excavations, and those which model the total volume to be analysed. To address the wide range of geometries, stoping methods and sequences, and geomechanical environments at Mount Isa Mines, a number of models have been developed. By presenting examples of their actual and potential application it is demonstrated that appropriate use of these techniques will assist in the determination of mining parameters and improve ore recovery. Examples presented cover sequencing in tabular and massive orebodies, location of shafts and shaft pillars, and backfill and hanging-wall stability. It is concluded that surface techniques are more appropriate for regional analyses and volume techniques are more suited to analyses of detailed, local geometry. Colour computer graphics should be an integral part of data preparation, and results interpretation and Presentation.