Rock Mass Characterisation for Stope Design

CIM Vancouver 2006
Karina Forester, Douglas Milne,
Abstract Rock mass characterisation is a critical component of effective stope design. Unexpected excessive stope dilution or uneconomic stope sizes can be the result of rock mass characterisation that is not representative of actual stope conditions. Comprehensive characterisation of the rock forming the stope hanging wall, back, ends and footwall is best done by a rock mechanics or ground control expert, however, this is time consuming and is often limited by available access.

There are two general approaches for characterising a stope hanging wall for dilution estimating. Detailed classification and mapping data can be collected in local areas where good exposure is available. Personnel, exposure and time are usually not available to do a thorough analysis for all stopes. The stope hanging walls are then broken into lenses or domains and similar conditions are assumed for each area. The second approach consists of using readily available data such as RQD. Other rock mass properties which influence hanging wall behaviour are estimated based on back analysing a few case histories. Stope design is then based on the variability of the one parameter, such as RQD, that is consistently measured for the rock mass surrounding the ore body.

This paper presents a third approach which looks, in depth, at the interpretation of geological core logging data for rock mass characterisation. Several rock mass properties that influence stope design, such as joint alteration, rock mass strength, joint spacing and orientations, have been linked to data collected by the mine geologists. This drill hole logging data was calibrated against underground mapping and used to back analyze the dilution prediction for several mined-out stopes. The stope behaviour was then predicted for a new mining area.

Keywords: Stope design, Rock mechanics, Rock Characterisation
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