Sublevel Caving is one of many different methods for underground hard rock mining. It is a large-scale mining method suitable for large ore bodies with a steep dip and a rock mass with a host rock in the hanging wall will fracture under controlled conditions. Therefore, the infrastructure is always placed on the footwall side.
Mining starts at the top of the ore body and progresses downwards in a safe sequence. Sublevel Caving is a productive mining method where all of the ore is fragmented by blasting and the host rock in the hanging wall of the ore body caves. Once the production drifts have been excavated and reinforced, the opening rays and long hole drilling and ring patterns are completed. Minimizing hole deviation when drilling is crucial as it will affect the fragmentation of the blasted ore and therefore also affect the flow of the caving rock mass. Rock is loaded from the cave front after each blasted ring. In order to control dilution of waste rock in the cave, loading a predetermined extraction percentage of rock is done. Or, if there is a significant difference in density between ore and waste rock, bucket-weighing can be utilized for dilution control. When loading from the cave front, it is important for the productivity to keep the roads maintained in a good condition.
Dumping the ore into ore passes connected to the haulage level is an efficient way of transporting rock from the production points to the crusher. Each sublevel features a systematic layout with drifts across the ore body. Activities in the parallel production drifts are performed simultaneously in order to maintain a good process in the mine. Due to caving of waste rock into the blasted ore, a certain degree of ore loss and waste rock dilution comes with the method. Caving will, sooner or later, also cause subsidence on the surface. Sublevel Caving is a productive large scale mining method that enables safe and efficient use of mining equipment. With good mine planning, there are also great opportunities for automation.
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