DEVELOPING DECLINES UNDER A MOVING GLACIER - THE KUMTOR UNDERGROUND ACCESS STORY
Kumtor Gold Company (KGC) currently operates the 500,000 tonnes per day Kumtor open pit gold mine located in the Issyk-Kul region of the Kyrgyz Republic at an elevation of more than 4,000 m. To supplement the open-pit mill feed with high grade underground ore from outside the current pit limits, KGC started pre-production design and development of the underground mine for the SB ore zone in late 2006. The initial phase of pre-production development consists of exploration and haulage declines which, upon completion, will provide ventilation and access to the underground mine. Design and construction of these declines presented many challenges to the project team considering the mines unique location at high altitude, the limited experience with Western underground mining techniques in the Kyrgyz Republic, and the impact of the nearby Davydov glacier and resultant ground conditions.
Completion of the exploration and haulage declines was undertaken jointly by KGC and mine contractor, J.S. Redpath Limited (Redpath). The initial phase of development including several ground falls provided detailed information on geotechnical ground types and conditions that were useful in determining the overall mine design and methodology for production.
This paper covers the various aspects of the design and construction process of developing the declines under the glacier, minimizing the likelihood of further ground falls, and the journey of both KGC and Redpath which led to the successful breakthrough between the declines on 01 July 2012.
Developments; Development; Underground; Rocks; Rock; Support; Supports; ground support; Spacing; MES;