UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Integrated mining, pre-concentration and waste disposal systems for the increased sustainability of hard rock metal mining Bamber, Andrew Sherliker


The integration of automated ore pre-concentration and waste disposal functions into the hard rock metal mining system, prior to treatment by conventional grinding and flotation, is proposed as a novel interpretation of Mine-Mill Integration for improving the economics and environmental impact of exploiting deep, low-grade or otherwise marginal mineral deposits. The proposed approach seeks to reject coarse, barren waste from the ore stream as early as possible in the mining cycle, and safely dispose of it as backfill underground. The concept is proposed as a Lean Manufacturing approach to hard rock mining, as an alternative to improving the economics of mining simply by increasing the mining rate. Lean Manufacturing philosophy seeks to design out overburden, smooth production, and eliminate waste from the system. It is suggested that the introduction of these systems into the hard rock mining process addresses all three of these areas of Lean thinking, and is thus an important approach to be considered for surface or underground mines wishing to simultaneously improve efficiency, economics and environmental performance, thus increasing the life, and the sustainability of the operation. The application of integrated mining, processing and waste disposal systems, where appropriate, is proposed as a strategy for the development of efficient new mining operations, or alternately the expansion of production at existing mines. Technologies specific to the success of the approach such as automated ore pre-concentration systems, composite fill preparation and delivery systems, as well as continuous mechanized mining methods are explored. The impacts and benefits of applying these integrated technologies to the mining system are defined and quantified through research, testwork, engineering design and systems analysis. Custom geo-metallurgical evaluation tools incorporating mineralogical, metallurgical, geophysical and geotechnical methods have been developed to allow the assessment of ores in terms of their potential for the adoption of the proposed approach. A computerized parametric evaluation model has also been developed to quantify the potential impacts and benefits using data from this testwork. A wide range of case studies have been investigated with positive results, and important conclusions are drawn towards the potential for application of the concept as a generalized case.

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