Our previous post introduced the first step: determining whether block caving is appropriate and viable. Here we survey the footprint of a block cave operation. The goal is to develop optimum level (levels) for extraction, best height of draw (BHOD), and the best tools for making critical decisions for extraction.
Mine footprint and BHOD determine the long-term economic viability of the entire block caving operation based on how much minable reserves will flow down through multiple columns of ore over the life of the mine.
Footprint and layout
The footprint lies beneath the orebody and is designed at a certain level, or levels for multi-lift operations. Selecting a level (or levels) represents a critical step and should be optimized based on the resource model, constraints, and the project’s short- and long-term goals. For example, a smaller lift to start and bigger lift in lower levels for later years can reduce initial capital costs in early phases of a project. The GEOVIA Cave Long-Term Planner (Footprint Finder in GEOVIA GEMS™ PCBC) is a well-known tool to facilitate this process, it enables mining engineers to define different parameters and run multiple scenarios for optimizing the value of project. This kind of analysis is done with a resolution of blocks, using the estimated block model with added economic parameters.
In the next step, the mine layout is designed in the selected level (levels) to determine the location and geometry of tunnels and how many, how far apart, and where draw points should be located. In this planning stage, the capital costs are estimated based on the design requirements such as excavations, ventilation, reinforcement, and so on.
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