Mining method innovation and operational excellence
CIM Vancouver 2016
Mr James Hatley (Program Manager - Cameco Corporation)
Over the past 15 years, teams at Cameco Corporation have tested and implemented three new underground mining methods for ore extraction: raisebore mining, boxhole boring and jet boring to mine high-grade uranium in the Athabasca Basin. These three methods were combined with innovative, artificial ground freezing applications which include freeze walls and block freezing drilled from both surface and underground locations. To get near the ore, non-standard mine development methods were modified from the civil engineering tunneling industry to include a single shield tunnel boring machine with a pre-cast concrete segmental lining and the New Austrian Tunneling Method. Driving this innovation is a highly valuable, concentrated ore in weak rockmass conditions at approximately the 500 metre depth and under hydrostatic conditions where traditional mining and mine development methods alone were not successful.
Lessons learned in the application of these new methods, process simplification and combination of traditional bulk mining methods has lead to safe mining practices, high ore recovery, cost reduction and improved productivity by the Cameco technology, project and operation teams. In support of operational excellence, work continues with these mining methods to gain further efficiencies; if the past is indicative of the future, the future looks bright.