ANALYSIS OF DECISIVE FACTORS IN OPENING AN UNDERGROUND DIMENSIONAL LIMESTONE QUARRY
Dimensional stone processing has become an important part of the world extractive industry, and today’s total stone block yearly production is estimated to be around 134.000.000 tons and is still growing by an average yearly rate of approximately 20%. In future, the same production will become an important part of the mining industry and presently, in some countries it represents even the main mining output. New environmental regulations, together with landscape and nature conservation requirements, create a number of difficulties in setting up new open pit dimensional stone quarries. As a result, many dimensional stone producers have recently started to apply underground techniques in order to produce the ornamental stone blocks intended for further processing. Underground production of stone blocks requires special mining methods and so far it has not been a cost-effective excavation method for all types of rocks. Presently, this type of stone excavation is generally applied in sedimentary and marble deposits because the rock has small to no mineral quartz content. When starting a new underground dimensional stone mine, it is necessary to analyse the impact of all primary factors which are crucial to set up a technically and costeffective advanced underground dimensional stone mine. The role of physical and mechanical properties of the rock, geological conditions, mineralogical composition, micro-tectonic state of the site, rock mechanic conditions on the site, durability and sawability of the stone are decisive factors in foreseeing the future methods of extraction. The laboratory research work as well as the field work, is very important in decision-making aimed to choose the future excavation method. Also of equal importance is the serious market research, because it renders the indication of selling price potential. Having obtained the results from both types of research, mining engineers can design the mining methods which optimize financial return to the mine. The practice approved by 15 years of testing in the underground limestone quarry of Kanfanar gives future producers very useful advice and general data to facilitate the process of exploration intended to establish new similar underground quarries.
Stone; Underground; Quarry; mining; Production; pillar; Pillars; Prices; Quarries;