The stages of mine design

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The stages of mine design is outlined in a variety of ways throughout the literature. The table below has been created to encompass the primary and necessary aspects of mine design as it relates to the project and mine life as a while.

Summary Outline of Stages of Mine Design
PROJECT PROGRESS
PLANNING PHASE IMPLEMENTATION PHASE PRODUCTION PHASE CLOSURE
TASK IDENTIFICATION Scoping/Conceptual Study Pre-Feasibility Feasibility Design and Construction Operation and Ongoing Maintenance Mine Site Reclamation
Administrative Specific steps for mine closure are country-, location, and policy-specifc and the main goal is to address environmental concerns
Project Justification Based on regional information check for any major geotechnical flaws Draft mine design package including realistic design parameters Mine design package approved Mine design package made into reality and revised as needed Mine design package kept as benchmark and updated as needed
Meetings and Site Visits Initial site visit by mining company to assess site and receive existing information Regular and as-needed visits to collect additional relevant information (geological, geotechnical, etc) On-site assessments as needed (may include geotechnical investigations, etc.) Permanent on-site presence Permanent on-site presence
Documents and Documentation Find and study mine documents from a similar-operating mine Geotechnical analysis conducted by mining company and/or outside engineering firm; Analogues identified between similar mining operations Data collection and compilations by on-site geological team and external company (geologic maps, sections, level plans, etc.) Further data collections by mining company staff; Revisions and further detail added to documents Databasing and ongoing data collection by mining staff; Ongoing revisions to pertinent documents
Property Ownership Review of property lease Review of property list; Claims list provided; Mineral rights known Property lease and rights secured and controlled; Claims list and map provided; Mineral rights secured Property lease, claims list, map and mineral rights kept on file and controlled Property lease, claims list, map and mineral rights kept on file and controlled
Topographic Map Basic map of site topography Preliminary map modification showing more site topographic features Detailed map of site topographic features; Aerial surveys verified with ground controls/surveys Topographic map kept up-to-date with any construction-induced changes Topographic map kept on file for future reference
Site Map Basic map of property in question Preliminary map presenting claims and boundaries Detailed map with all claims and boundaries Maintain up-to-date detailed map with all claims, boundaries and site infrastructure Maintain up-to-date detailed map with all claims, boundaries and site infrastructure
Exploration and Geological Model Development
GEOLOGY
Review of Regional Data Preliminary review of existing exploration mapping, geological maps and core logs Review of existing exploration, geological maps and core logs by on-site geologists; Preliminary site-specific analysis Detailed site-specific analysis Review of any regional changes or new exploration mapping, geological maps or core logs that may become available Review of any regional changes or new exploration mapping, geological maps or core logs that may become available
Data Collection Library review, and review of geophysical data if available (surface or downhole) Major structures defined; Geophysical sampling conducted; Develop database(s) Ongoing geophysical sampling; Enhancement of geological database Refine geological database Ongoing updates to geological database
Geological Mapping & Model Development Preliminary review of existing maps and preliminary geologic mapping; Initial country rock model Detailed geological mapping and associated cross sections produced; Initial 3D model Geological teams (mining and external company) review and further enhance geological mapping and associated cross sections; Enhance 3D model and develop long sections and level plans Review and revise geological maps, sections and level plans; Refine 3D model Review and revise geological maps, sections and level plans as needed; Further and ongoing refinement of 3D model
Geologic Assessment Preliminary geological assessment, including arrangements made for collecting geotechnical data for analysis Basic geological assessment and review conducted Detailed geological assessment of structures/rock contacts, alteration mineralization and deposit trends and review conducted Geological assessment revisions made as needed (as information changes) Geological assessment kept up-to-date and modified/detailed where needed
Mineralogical Sampling and Analyses Limited sampling; Preliminary assessment Preliminary mineralogical sampling and analysis; Preliminary mineralogical study Detailed mineralogical sampling and mapping; Detailed mineralogical study Location-specific mineralogical sampling and mapping; Revisions of mineralogical study as needed Mineralogical sampling, mapping and revisions to study as needed
DRILLING, SAMPLING AND ASSAYING
Drill Hole Spacing Wide spaced drilling as estimated from exploration/geological maps Initial infill drilling of wide-spaced drilling; Development of preliminary grid patters; Targeted oriented drilling for development of structural model Infill (closely-spaced) drilling on a detailed grid pattern as estimated by calculated reserve categories; Infill oriented drilling for refinement of structural model Targeted drilling (as needed) to clarify any uncertainties; Infill drilling (as needed) for sampling and testing for intact rock strength Isolated drilling as needed
Underground Drilling Review of existing data Drilling if accessible Detailed drilling if accessible Detailed and/or targeted underground drilling Drilling as needed
Sampling Preliminary sampling; Obtain outcrop samples where available Geotechnical sampling; Test pits All feasibility sampling programs complete; Detailed sampling from targeted and/or infill drilling Location-specific samples taken where needed for further refinement of design/construction parameters Location-specific samples taken where needed for refining mine design as sequencing progresses
Drilling/Assay Data Preliminary check of existing drill hole data Check of drill holes (coordinates, elevations, angles, etc.); Check assays, angled hole vs. vertical hole comparison; Assay flow diagram and development of database Check of drill holes (coordinates, elevations, angles, etc.); Check assays, angled hole vs. vertical hole comparison; Twin hole drilling; Assay flow diagram and validation of database Ongoing check of drill holes (coordinates, elevations, angles, etc.); Check assays, angled hole vs. vertical hole comparison; Twin hole drilling; Assay flow diagram and refinement of database As-needed check of drill holes (coordinates, elevations, angles, etc.); Check assays, angled hole vs. vertical hole comparison; Twin hole drilling; Assay flow diagram and enhancement of database
Condemnation Drilling N/A N/A Areas under proposed location of waste dumps, tailings and plants drilled N/A If any additional stuctures planned, areas under the proposed locations drilled
Geotechnical
CHARACTERIZATION
Pertinent Regional Information Review of regional geotechnical data; Analogical mine design cases identified for comparison and benchmarking Incorporate regional geotechnical parameters in pre-feasibility plans & designs; Identify any differences between analogical cases Review analogical mine design parameters and regional geotechnical data to compare to updated design for any differences or similarities Keep regional geotechnical data and analogical mine design cases on file for comparison and reference Keep regional geotechnical data and analogical mine design cases on file for comparison to actual results
Assessment and Database Maintenance Geotechnical assessment of advanced exploration data Assessment and compilation of initial mine-scale geotechnical data; Establish a preliminary geotechnical database Ongoing assessment and compilation of all new mine-scale geotechnical data; Enhancement to the geotechnical database Refinement of geotechnical database Ongoing maintenance of geotechnical database
Intact Rock Strength Determination Use literature values supplemented by index tests on core from geological drilling Index and laboratory testing on sample selected from targeted mine-scale drilling; Initial assessment of lithological domains Laboratory testing on detailed samples; Detailed assessment and establishment of parameters for 3D geotechnical model Sampling on infill/targeted drilling and laboratory testing Sampling and laboratory testing completed as required
Stress Measurement Regional compilations; World Stress Map Supplement by research data from nearby mines No additional data collection No additional data collection; Sensitivity study may be conducted if numerical modelling used Take in-situ measurements if significant load-bearing structures are present (pillars, etc), or if mine is deep and stress related failure is important
3D Geotechnical Model Consider validity of regional geotechnical data as a source for parameters in model Prepare a draft of the 3D model Enhancement of the 3D model Refinement of 3D model Ongoing maintenance and updates to 3D model
STRUCTURAL
Mapping Collect and review aerial photos from historical times to present; Regional outcrop mapping Mine-scale outcrop mapping Trench mapping (if applicable) Detailed mapping, if needed, in specific areas of uncertainty Structural mapping on all pit benches or tunnels/adits
Stereographic and Structural Domains Initial stereographic drafts from outcrop mapping parameters Database established for structural information; Initial stereographic assessment of data; Initial structural domains established Enhancement of database; Advanced stereographic assessment of fabric data; Confirmation of structural domains Refined interpretation of fabric data and structural domains Further refinement of fabric data and structural domains
3D Structrual Model Initial ground proofing Initial 3D structural model Refinement of 3D structural model Refined interpretation of 3D structural model Further refinement and ongoing maintenance to 3D model
MINE DESIGN - Open Pit, Underground or Combination
Open Pit Pit Design Pit slopes assumed; Draft of final pit design Preliminary update of pit slopes design based on rock type and basic geotechnical data and index tests; Revisions made of draft of final pit design; Preliminary haul-road incorporated into design Pit slopes defined by geotechnical data from structural mapping and oriented core holes; Detailed pit designs with phases and access for equipment operation Pit slope and overall design altered/updated if significant construction problems arise Pit slope and overall design altered/updated if significant construction problmes arise
Waste Dumps Simple outline of final dumps and location Preliminary design for total waste tonnage; Incremental and final outline of dumps Dump sites identified from geotechnical data; Final waste tonnages determined with incremental phases; Yearly and final dump outlined Dump sites established and/or relocated depending on results of condemnation drilling Ensure that waste dumps stay within allotted boundaries and that safety measrues are met monitoring
Underground Mine Design Assumed mining system; General outline of mine plan and development Preliminary mining system identified from geologic and geotechnical data; Preliminary outline of mine plan and development including mine access Specific mining system identified from geologic and geotechnical data; Detailed outline of mine plan and development including mine access Mining system and detailed outline embodied in detailed design and construction Ensure that detailed design and all aspects of the design optimize mine safety and production

  References

(1) Pincock, Allen and Holt. (2009). Pincock Perspecitives: Minimum Engineering Study Requirements Update. Issue No. 95. Pincock, Allen and Holt, a division of Runge, Inc.

(2) Hustrulid, W. A., & Kuchta, M. (2006). Open pit mine planning and design (Vol. 1). Taylor & Francis.

(3) Vale, personal communication

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