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Minerals 2016, 6(3), 65; doi:10.3390/min6030065

Alternative Process Flow for Underground Mining Operations: Analysis of Conceptual Transport Methods Using Discrete Event Simulation

1
Department of Civil, Environment and Natural Resources Engineering, Division of Mining and Rock Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå SE-971 87, Sweden
2
Department of Chemical and Mining, College of Engineering and Technology, The University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam P.O. Box 35901, Tanzania
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michael Hitch
Received: 25 December 2015 / Revised: 3 June 2016 / Accepted: 13 June 2016 / Published: 30 June 2016
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Abstract

As the near surface deposits are being mined out, underground mines will increasingly operate at greater depths. This will increase the challenges related to transporting materials from deeper levels to the surface. For many years, the ore and waste transportation from most deep underground mines has depended on some or all of the following: truck haulage, conveyor belts, shafts, rails, and ore pass systems. In sub-level caving, and where ore passes are used, trains operating on the main lower level transport the ore from ore passes to a crusher, for subsequent hoisting to the surface through the shaft system. In many mines, the use of the ore pass system has led to several problems related to the ore pass availability, causing production disturbances and incurred cost and time for ore pass rehabilitation. These production disturbances have an impact on the mining activities since they increase the operational costs, and lower the mine throughput. A continued dependency on rock mass transportation using ore passes will generate high capital costs for various supporting structures such as rail tracks, shaft extensions, and crushers for every new main level. This study was conducted at an existing underground mine and analyzed the transport of ore from loading areas at the lower levels up to the existing shaft points using trucks without employing ore passes. The results show that, when the costs of extending ore passes to lower levels become too great or ore passes cannot be used for production, haul trucks can be a feasible alternative method for transport of ore and waste up the ramp to the existing crusher located at the previous main level. The use of trucks will avoid installing infrastructure at the next main level and extending the ore passes to lower levels, hence reducing costs. View Full-Text
Keywords: rock mass transportation; haulage system; trucks; ore pass; discrete event simulation; sub-level caving rock mass transportation; haulage system; trucks; ore pass; discrete event simulation; sub-level caving
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Greberg, J.; Salama, A.; Gustafson, A.; Skawina, B. Alternative Process Flow for Underground Mining Operations: Analysis of Conceptual Transport Methods Using Discrete Event Simulation. Minerals 2016, 6, 65.

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