Comparisons of the Geology and Proposed Underground Mining Methods of the Panda and Koala Kimberlites at the EKATI Diamond Mine

CIM Vancouver 2006
Gordon R. Graham, Jon A. Carlson, Tom Nowicki,
Abstract The EKATI Diamond Mine has successfully completed the development and commissioning of the Panda Underground Project to extract the ore below the Panda open pit. The dominant kimberlite domain of the Panda Underground, intermixed olivine-rich and mud-rich reworked volcaniclastic kimberlite (RVK), is very similar to the kimberlite domain characterizing the open pit portion of the pipe. A sublevel retreat mining method is in operation underground at Panda; near-vertical blast rings are drilled and blasted into an open void. Broken ore is mucked with LHD’s, sized underground then moved to surface through a conveyor system to the process plant.

An advanced feasibility study is in progress at the Koala Underground Project. The Koala pipe is geologically more complex than Panda. The pipe below the open pit is comprised of at least five distinct kimberlite domains. There is a 100 m thick zone of incompetent low-grade mud-rich RVK between the open pit and the stable high-grade olivine-rich primary volcaniclastic kimberlite where mining will be initiated. As a result, it is proposed that Koala will employ sublevel caving; each blast ring shot would be confined and mucked in sequence to maintain the cave of the over-lying low-grade RVK ore. The sublevel cave method seeks to safely defer the mucking of the low grade ore to the latter part of the mine life.
Keywords: EKATI, Panda, Caving, Koala, Underground, Diamonds, Mining, Geology, Kimberlite
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