Open Pit Underground Transition Supported by Integer Linear Programming Modeling

APCOM 2009
Enrique Rubio, Alexandra Newman,
Abstract Several large open pit mines are facing the challenge to design and plan an underground transition to sustain the long term future of their operations. The desired underground method is Block Cave since its natural high productivity and low operating cost that could compete against the open pit cost to mine the final open pit pushbacks. It has been found at several operations where this transition is taking place that the pit limit at which transition is performed is rather deep. This aims to think that perhaps several transition projects have started late in the life of an operation producing an over stress in the transition project and reducing the flexibility in the design of the overall infrastructure and a substantial lost in the complete project NPV. Traditionally the approach to plan open pit underground transition consists of sequentially deciding the final pit using a Lerchs and Grossman type of optimization to find the overall maximum pit shell and then running block cave simulations to find the best footprint for the underground option. The research summarized in this paper is related to the development of an integer linear programming model that aims to compute simultaneously the maximum NPV of the combined option final limit open pit and block cave underground footprint. The model has been tested using two large block models representing two of the current operations in the process of transiting from open pit to underground operations. Finally, the integrated open pit underground transition model is going to be compared to the traditional sequential approach in order to define which method achieves the best NPV. The paper illustrates both case studies in depth.
Keywords: Mine planning, Integer Linear Programming Model, Open Pit Underground Transition
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