Course outline

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MINE 448 - 2016

Underground Mine Design Project


Course objectives

The objective of this course is to complete a scoping study for an underground mine. This year, the project is based on the Raglan orebody belonging to Glencore PLC. The study will extend from the orebody block model through to design, costing and calculation of economic parameters. The design should bring together procedures and information learned in all courses taken in the mining program.

Students will work in groups in consultation with the instructor and will meet weekly to discuss the status and to work through details of the project. The computer lab will be available in dedicated 2 hr timeslots for each section of the class, and during those timeslots, groups will meet for 20 minutes with the instructors.

The specific skills developed in the course, in terms of Engineering Accreditation units, are shown in the following table.

CEAB Units Math Basic Science Comp. Studies Eng. Science Eng. Design
66 0 0 18 0 48

Emphasis is placed on the demonstration of mining engineering design capability plus information literacy and communication skills (researching information and reporting).

Deliverables, marks, and schedule

The main goal of the course is to deliver a complete scoping study for the proposed mine. However, additional deliverables are required, which are typical in mining practice (except for the MineWiki article).

Distribution of Marks

Weekly progress reports 10%
Development of MineWiki article 15%
Mid-term progress report 25%
Summary presentation 15%
Final project report 35%


Proposal for MineWiki article Friday January 22
Completion of MineWiki article Friday February 5
Mid-year progress report Friday February 12
Summary presentation Week starting March 28
Final project report Friday April 1

Peer evaluations

At the mid-point and at the end of the course, peer evaluation sheets will be completed by each student. These evaluations are mandatory. Collaboration of engineers during projects is normal practice, but unlike within an industrial environment, groups cannot fire non-performing members. Therefore, the peer evaluation sheets are an opportunity for group members to evaluate each others performance. These evaluations will be used by the course instructor to adjust individual course marks both up or down from the average group mark, so there should be no expectation that group members will all receive the same mark.

The scheme used to adjust marks is as follows:

  • Let n be the number of students on the project team. Students will confidentially assign a “contribution score”  \textstyle c_i to each individual i in the project such that  \textstyle{\sum_{k=1}^n c_i = 100} .
  • Let ci denote the average contribution score for individual i, based on the ci ’s submitted by all team members (including one’s self).
  • Let g denote the grade assigned to the report (for the team) by the course instructors.
  • The individual grade for team member i for that report will be:  \textstyle{g_i = n \times \frac{\bar{c_i}}{100} \times g}
  • An individual’s report grade gi cannot be reduced from g by more than 0.5g or increased from g by more than 0.1g.
  • The instructor reserves the right to overrule the peer evaluation outcome for a student if they judge it to be inappropriate. This action will only be taken in rare circumstances and will normally be in favour of the student.

As an example, consider a group with 4 people, i.e. n = 4. Suppose the report was awarded a grade of g = 8/10 by the course instructors and suppose that individual i received an average peer evaluated contribution score of ci = 25 (including self evaluation). Nothing changes and the student receives gi = g. If, instead, individual i received ci = 20 from his peers, then the member would receive  \textstyle{g_i = 4 \times \frac{20}{100} \times \frac{8}{10} = \frac{6.4}{10}} . However, for ci = 30, the individual would receive  \textstyle{g_i = \frac{8.8}{10}} , not 9.6/10, since an increase of only 0.1g = 0.8/10 is allowed.

Project meetings

Every week during the scheduled class time there will be a brief meeting during which the project status will be discussed. All group members are expected to attend these meetings and contribute to the discussion.

Progress reports must be prepared for each meeting. This report must be sent by e-mail to the instructor no later than one day prior to the scheduled meeting. These reports must be typed and generally be less than 2 pages in length. The objective is to write a concise summary of:

  • work completed in the previous week,
  • an assessment of progress relative to the planned project timeline,
  • an outline of any problems identified,
  • a list of the next tasks, including an assignment of responsibilities,
  • timesheet update (see section on Timesheet below),
  • identify upcoming critical dates (due dates for deliverables).

No template for these reports is provided, but the reports should follow a format that clearly identifies the meeting date, group members, and the agenda as described. An overall assessment of these progress reports will be made at the end of the course.

In order to provide leadership experience, responsibility for coordinating group work and writing the report should be rotated among group members. The primary author of the progress report should be indicated on the report.

The first progress report must be a Ganttt Chart showing the proposed schedule of tasks to be completed and estimates of the time-lines. This chart should include dates of major deliverables. Given the group nature of the work, some tasks will be carried out in parallel, but some must be done in series thereby creating critical path tasks. These critical path tasks should be identified in advance as they could be potential bottlenecks. This schedule will be used to monitor progress throughout the design project and may be modified periodically. In order to identify tasks required for the mine design process, it will be useful to examine a number of preliminary design reports, many examples of which can be found on the SEDAR web site.


An additional course requirement is to maintain a detailed log of hours spent by group members on the following activities:

  • Time spent outside of meetings working on design aspects of the project. This will include independent time, plus time spent in the computer room. Hours spent on these two categories should be clearly distinguished.
  • Time preparing the communications aspects of the project, which will be the progress reports, mid-year progress report, and final report.

This log should be maintained by the group in Excel format and delivered together with the final report at the end of the course. A summary of the timesheet during the two weeks prior to each meeting should be included in each progress report.

The final timesheet for all group participants must be appended in both the Interim and Final project reports.

MineWiki article

Each year, design groups collect a significant amount of valuable information (equipment and mining costs, development rates, supplier contacts, design methodologies etc.) that is documented in the final reports but is not available for future use. To capture some of this information, a Wiki (MineWiki) is being developed. As a course deliverable therefore, each group is required to create a Wiki style article on a topic of choice. The topic, scope, and other details are to be approved by the instructor. A proposal for the topic, contents, plus a list of relevant references, must be submitted as outlined in the Section on Deliverables. This proposal will normally be between 1 and 2 pages in length.

The level of detail of the wiki contribution is aimed at knowledgeable users (yourselves). The article should be informative, concise, supported by an example if you consider it useful, and contain references to the published literature (journal articles, conferences etc.). Supporting spreadsheet files or graphics can also be included. Browse WikiPedia for examples of style (including the extensive writing guides in the help files). The article should be entered directly into MineWiki with all appropriate formatting.

In order to edit an article in the Wiki, permissions must be assigned by the instructor. Groups should designate the main editor(s) so that editing permissions can be set in a timely manner.

The intention of the delivery date early in the course is to provide a time window that will enable groups to make use of new articles contributed each year. A marking rubric will be provided and used in determining the overall mark for each group.

Mid-term progress report

This (printed) report will serve as a template for the final report. It will be a formal report, and should include table of contents, labeled figures etc. A detailed style guide for the report will not be provided, but it should follow typical professional standards. Examples can be found on SEDAR, and other guidelines for report writing can be found on the Applied Science communications web site [1].

The mid-term progress report should include a complete status of all aspects of the project completed, such as an outline of the orebody to be mined, mining method, development schedule etc. and identification of work still to be completed. Partially complete sections should also be included. It is strongly recommended that tasks be written when completed in order to avoid a major last-minute writing effort.

Although the exact content of this report (number of sections completed vs level of detail in each) will depend on the amount of progress made by each group, the level of effort and amount of work included in the report should be representative of the midpoint of the course. It is expected that the initial sections of the report (introduction, description of orebody, mining method selection etc.) will be in final form. This is the only opportunity for significant feedback on report writing prior to submission of the final report, so it is strongly recommended that as much writing as possible be completed in this interim report so as to avoid surprises when the final report is evaluated.

Final design report and presentation

The final printed report will present the entire feasibility study as a stand-alone report. It should introduce the project, take the reader clearly through all steps, state all necessary assumptions, and make conclusions regarding feasibility of mining of the orebody using the methods selected. It will also normally include a list of all information provided on which the report was based. Supporting material should be included in appendices, which should also be clearly readable, i.e. not simply lists of data or copies from spreadsheets. For examples of technical reports, search the SEDAR web site, or Queen's on-line writing resources.

Deliverables for the final report must include the following:

  • printed report
  • honesty statement
  • table indicating how each group member contributed to the report and presentation
  • electronic copies of all related files, including Word and PDF copies of the report and the Excel files used for calculations (especially the cash-flow spreadsheet, equipment costs, mining costs etc.)
  • timesheet of activities for each member

The final mark will include a portion for completeness, to account for the delivery of these items.

Final presentations will be made at the end of the course, summarizing the mine designs.

Departmental late policy

In order to be fair to groups that complete assigned work on schedule, there will be penalties for late work, following the standard policy of the Department.

  • There will be a 10% penalty per day for late reports.
  • Weekly progress reports more than one week late will not be accepted.
  • No work can be accepted after the final day of classes.
  • Following the departmental policy, no reports will be accepted at the main office. If reports are handed in outside of the regularly scheduled group meeting times, they should be done in the designated contact hours (see below).

Contact hours

Groups will be able to meet with the instructor weekly during the designated class times. In addition to these times, contact hours for the instructor and the course TA will be posted. Outside of these hours, availability cannot guaranteed.


In order to complete this project, material from many of your previous courses will be used. As a primary source of information, course notes and books should be consulted. There are also many resources in the library and on the web (e.g. many equipment manufacturers post details of their products online). Information from the Mining Sourcebook will be made posted, which contains a lot of valuable information from various mining operations. In addition, various information will be posted on the Moodle web site for the course. If you are having trouble obtaining some information, this can be discussed during the weekly progress meetings, where the best course of action will be decided. Consultation with other professors in the department is possible, but should be considered as a last resort.

A more extensive wiki covering various aspects of mine design can be found here. The Queen's mine design wiki (this one) was based on this project, however, the MineDesignWiki project was unfortunately abandoned.

A library guide has been prepared for the mine design project. It contains useful links to various library and internet resources. Also note that the mining liaison librarian (Wenyan Wu) is available for consultation for researching mining related literature.

  • Library course guide:[2]

For guidance on report preparation, standards, style etc. there is a collection of information at:

  • Queen's communications resources:[3]

By law, all public Canadian companies working in the minerals industry are required to file various types of information for public scrutiny, including exploration reports, technical reports (feasibility studies), shareholder reports etc. These are all available at the SEDAR web site:

Two sets of standards for reporting are used globally, JORC and NI 43-101. They are quite similar, and can be found at:

  • National Instrument 43-101:[5]

Two additional very useful references are available in the Engineering library. This will likely be the primary source of information for the project. Updates to this resource are made quarterly, so information found there should be considered current.

Mining Cost Services HD 9506 U63 A1715 2008

Mining Cost Services is designed to increase both the speed and accuracy of mining feasibility studies. Cost data is presented in simple format for both Canada and the United States in areas covering electric power, natural gas, labor, supplies, equipment, smelting, transportation, taxes and miscellaneous development series.

Mine and Mill Equipment Costs TN 345 M56 2008

The guide provides estimators with an exhaustive list of the capital and hourly cost associated with owning and operating equipment typically used in mining and mineral processing operations. It also has an introduction to the methodology and an explanation as for how to use the guide.

Factors to consider

In the mine design study, many factors must be considered. Since each orebody has unique characteristics, there is no universal list of topics that should be addressed. However, as general guidance, a list of Design topics is provided (also on navigation bar).

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