UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Application of simulation techniques in development planning for caving methods Li, Zhen


The mining industry globally is moving towards exploiting more mineral deposits by underground methods for several reasons. Large scale underground block/panel caving mining methods are becoming more popular due to the low operating costs associated with economies of scale. However, the planning for a caving mine is very challenging. Simulation techniques have been used successfully by many industries for a long time. They have proven to be valuable in assisting the mine planning process, forecasting the performance of modeled systems, and testing alternatives at very low cost. In this research, simulation techniques were applied in the planning phase of a panel caving mine. These techniques were based on the existing experience as well as new software technology development. A state-of-art mine development simulation software package, SimMine®, was used as a tool for this study. Oyu Tolgoi is a large copper-gold complex located in southern Mongolia. It contains the Hugo North deposit which will be extracted using the panel caving method. Pre-production development (PPD) will involve over 40 km of lateral development and 70,000 m³ of massive excavations. So the PPD time and cost will be significant. The global mining industry has only limited experience to ensure effectively the design and planning for such complex, large scale projects. A case study of the Hugo North Lift 1 PPD is the focus for the simulation outlined in this research thesis. A simulation model was developed for the PPD planning. This was found to more accurately predict long term lateral development and mass excavation rates and scheduled ventilation requirements. The process of simulation was significant in enabling the optimization of development planning and equipment selection. There appear to be considerable opportunities for simulation of such planning aspects in mining. This research aims to contribute to future software development that delivers more reliable and functional simulation tools for mining engineers. These should realize significant safety, financial and environmental advances through improved scheduling for PPD in the next generation of large, complex underground mines.

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