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Conference Proceedings

Underground Operators Conference Proceeding 2023

Conference Proceedings

Underground Operators Conference Proceeding 2023

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Black Rock Cave (BRC) – overcoming challenging ground conditions and mitigating the impacts to production

Black Rock Cave (BRC) is a sublevel cave which was developed in 2018–2020 and has been in production since November 2020. BRC is part of the Mount Isa Mines complex and extracts a leached orebody comprising of high-grade chalcocite ore, situated below the historic Black Rock Open Cut workings. The mine is owned by Mount Isa Mines and operated under contract with PYBAR Mining Services. In 2021 a number of rockfalls occurred throughout the mine and were increasing in frequency. This culminated in a major rockfall on the decline in June 2021, after which the decision was made to withdraw all persons from the mine, initiate rehabilitation and conduct further investigations to deduce a safe method to provide long-term support. The rockfall investigations have shown that the corrosive nature of the highly leached rock mass can consume a split set in less than 18 months. A review of potential corrosion resistant ground support methods concluded that steel split sets have a safe lifespan of six months at BRC, and that all workings must have corrosion resistant support installed prior to exceeding the safe life of the friction bolts. The review recommended the use of 4 m cable bolts as the most suitable method of corrosion resistant support. This new support system, and the requirement to rehabilitate all mine workings within the leached orebody, had an impact to the schedule and an effect on both equipment and manning levels at BRC. Accelerated jumbo rehab allowed access to the production levels within two months of the rockfall. Cable bolting then followed the jumbo bolting in all leached areas. The direct impact has been ten months of reduced production, due to night shift closures of the decline to enable cable bolting. The impact to the mine has been minimised by the small flexible team that enabled the mine plan to change rapidly and often to accommodate the challenging conditions. In less than two months from the rockfall event, production had resumed. Within ten months of concluding that the mine required; full rehabilitation, a new support system and a full re-schedule, normal mining operations had restarted, with pre-event productions rates being achieved.
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  • Published: 2023
  • Pages: 7
  • PDF Size: 0.771 Mb.
  • Unique ID: P-03012-G5M8V5

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