INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN HIGHLY JOINTED GROUND AT THE NEW AFTON BLOCK CAVE MINE

World Mining Congress
New Gold’s New Afton mine is an 11,000 tonne per day block caving mine, located 8 km west of the city of Kamloops, British Columbia. The reserve is estimated at 52.5Mt with grades of 0.65 g/t Au and 0.93% Cu. Block caving requires a considerable amount of infrastructure development before production can begin. Each excavation had its own challenges, often further complicated by interactions with the caving stresses and fault structures. The main areas of interest were: the production crusher complex, the surface to underground infrastructure, and the footprint interaction with the faults. The ore zone at New Afton is bounded by two very weak fault zones, with large fault affected areas and associated splays. The resulting rock mass rating (RMR) is 35-50, with some areas significantly weaker due to clay infill. These conditions created a unique and decidedly difficult environment in which to develop New Afton’s infrastructure. Despite these difficulties, the mine began production on schedule in July 2012. The main production crusher for the mine is a gyratory crusher that allows for direct truck dumping, with a smaller jaw crusher in series to facilitate the initial development and production. The crusher chamber was redesigned several times to minimize the chamber volume, resulting in a 40% decrease in volume without losing functionality. After drilling and geotechnical testing, the location of the crusher was changed to eliminate the threat of fault affected ground in the area; the entire complex moved a short time before mining began on the chamber. The mining techniques used enabled tight control of the crusher pocket excavation, while also allowing for the timely completion of the chamber.
Keywords: Faults; Fault; Raises; Development; Developments; Crushers; infrastructure; Structure; Underground; Mines;
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