Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 111 num. 12 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Foreword</b>: <b>Well done Tukkies! </b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>University of Pretoria</b>: <b>fifty years for the Department of Mining Engineering</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Spotlight</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>We are South African, We are Tukkies and We are Mining Alumni!</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>We are South African, we are Tukkies and we are mining alumni!</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Mining Engineering</b>: <b>50th anniversary</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>50th Anniversary of the Department of Mining Engineering University of Pretoria </b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>'Educating the Future Mining Engineering Practitioner'</b>: <b>Tuks Mining Engineering: 1961-2011 'Celebrating 50 years of Excellence in Mining Engineering Education'</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The design of stable pillars in the Bushveld Complex mines</b>: <b>a problem solved?</b>]]> This paper gives an overview of the difficulties associated with determining the strength of hard-rock pillars. Although a number of pillar design tools are available, pillar collapses still occur. Recent examples of large-scale pillar collapses in South Africa suggest that these were caused by weak partings that traversed the pillars. Currently two different methods are used to determine the strength of pillars, namely, empirical equations derived from back analyses of failed and stable cases, and numerical modelling tools using appropriate failure criteria. The paper illustrates that both techniques have their limitations and additional work is required to obtain a better understanding of pillar strength. Empirical methods based on observations of pillar behaviour in a given geotechnical setting are popular and easy to use, but care should be exercised that the results are not inappropriately extrapolated beyond the environment in which they are established. An example is the Hedley and Grant formula (derived for the Canadian uranium mines), which has been used for many years in the South African platinum and chrome mines (albeit with some adaptation of the K-value). Very few collapses have been reported in South Africa for layouts designed using this formula, suggesting that in some cases it might yield estimates of pillar strength that are too conservative. As an alternative, some engineers strongly advocate the use of numerical techniques to determine pillar strength. A close examination unfortunately reveals that these techniques also rely on many assumptions. An area where numerical modelling is invaluable, however, is in determining pillar stresses accurately and for studying specific pillar failure mechanisms, such as the influence of weak partings on pillar strength. In conclusion, it appears that neither empirical techniques nor numerical modelling can be used solely to provide a solid basis for conducting pillar design. It is therefore recommended that both these techniques should be utilized to obtain the best possible insight into a given design problem. Owing to the uncertainties regarding pillar strength and loading stiffness, monitoring in trial mining sections and in established mining areas is also an essential tool to test the stability of pillar layouts in particular geotechnical areas. <![CDATA[<b>Numerical computation of average pillar stress and implications for pillar design</b>]]> A number of issues relating to the computational aspects of pillar design are addressed in this paper. The computation of average pillar stress values is important when attempting to establish criteria for pillar design and in the analysis of the stability of tabular pillar layouts. One of the default 'classic' numerical methods that are used to determine pillar stresses is the displacement discontinuity method. In many instances it is not clearly understood that this approach does suffer from some limitations, particularly in relation to the fact that in coarse element simulations, the simulated average pillar stress (APS) can depend on the chosen mesh size. The nature of this error is highlighted in this paper and some strategies are suggested to bound the magnitude of these errors. It is demonstrated as well that the popular linear stiffness approximation to pillar or seam compressibility does appear to allow reasonably accurate estimates of the average pillar stress when either the pillar height is varied or when the seam modulus differs from the host rock modulus. A practical implication of this study is that if the seam modulus is noticeably lower than that of the host rock, such as for coal seams, it is important to use a linear stiffness constitutive model for the pillars rather than a 'rigid' pillar assumption. This added complexity seems unnecessary, however, when simulating hard rock pillars in mines where the seam modulus is very similar to that of the surrounding rock. <![CDATA[<b>The application of the analytical hierarchical process in complex mining engineering design problems</b>]]> Mining engineers frequently encounter complex design problems for which the critical components of the design are difficult to quantify or compare. Teams of people typically work on these designs and human perceptions and judgments play a strong role. To assist with this process, the analytical hierarchical process (AHP) as a decisionmaking tool is described in this paper. Although the technique is used in many other disciplines, it is currently not widely used in mining engineering in South Africa. To use the AHP process, the problem should be treated as a hierarchy that defines the goal, the alternatives to reach it, and the criteria for evaluation of these alternatives. Pairwise comparisons are conducted on the criteria of the hierarchy to establish priorities. The value of the technique is that it is simple to test for consistency amongst the pairwise comparisons to ensure that the answer obtained is better than that provided by a random selection. To illustrate the technique, the use of a backfill support system in a platinum mining project was investigated. Ten design parameters, which will be impacted by the use of backfill, were identified and weighted according to their relative importance. The result of the AHP evaluation was that the use of a backfill support system should be preferred to a conventional support system at the mine. <![CDATA[<b>A value assessment of mergers and acquisitions in the South African mining industry-the Harmony ARMgold example</b>]]> A value assessment model which uses deal objectives, financial and non-financial indicators as a guide to assess value creation in mergers and acquisitions. The extent to which post- merger deal objectives are achieved and the potential benefits derived from mining deals that may not necessarily be financial of nature, but which are necessary to sustain and enhance future performance, were considered. The premerger and post-merger performances based on some financial indicators that reflect profitability for shareholders were also used. This value assessment model was used to assess four major deals that have occurred in the South African mining industry since 2003 as part of a postgraduate dissertation. In this paper, the Harmony and ARMgold merger is used as an example of how the model can be applied. The model's relevance and applicability can also serve as a guideline in developing a framework or holistic guideline in assessing whether mining BEE deals in South Africa create value. <![CDATA[<b>Testing stemming performance, possible or not?</b>]]> The ability of an explosive to break rock is influenced considerably by the extent of confinement in the blasthole. It is believed that confinement is improved by the use of adequate stemming. The aim of this paper is to present the results of the first and second stages of developing a stemming performance testing rig for small diameter boreholes. The rig was used to compare and contrast the performance of different designs of products. The results showed that different stemming products have differences in terms of their functionality, which can have a major impact on the efficiency of rock breaking. Two test procedures were used, one through the exclusive use of compressed air and the second using a purposebuilt high pressure test rig with small quantities of explosives. Both tests were used to identify and evaluate the ability of various stemming products to resist the escape of explosive gas through the collar of a blasthole. An investigation was done to determine the types of stemming products most commonly used in South African underground hard rock mines, and these products were used during the tests. The first stage of tests using compressed air only did not prove adequate to predict with certainty the pressure behaviour in the borehole of a particular product under high pressure conditions. The purpose-built high pressure test rig also did not prove to be a very effective tool to test stemming products under high pressure conditions. The test rig incorporated only the effect of gas pressure on the stemming product, and excluded the effect of the shock wave. This study therefore proved that to take into account only the gas pressure generated in the blasthole is not sufficient to effectively test stemming product performance. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of a limit equilibrium model to simulate crush pillar behaviour</b>]]> This paper describes the evaluation of a limit equilibrium model to simulate the behaviour of crush pillars in platinum mines. An analytical model was derived to calculate the residual average pillar stress (APS) values of the crush pillars. The values predicted by this model were compared to the numerical values obtained from TEXAN simulations. In general, the limit equilibrium model appears to be very attractive for simulating pillar failure as the gradual crushing of the outside of the pillar and the transfer of stress to the intact core can be replicated. The value of the TEXAN crush pillar model was further demonstrated by simulating an idealized layout with crush pillars between two adjacent panels. The simulations illustrated that oversized pillars will not crush close to the face and this may lead to seismic failure in the back area. An important finding of the study is that closure measurements may prove to be a very valuable diagnostic measure in crush pillars layouts. Distinct differences in magnitudes of closure were simulated for a scenario where the pillars crush as expected, compared to the scenario where an oversized pillar is left. Experimental closure data collected in a crush pillar stope provided further evidence regarding the value of closure measurements in these layouts. <![CDATA[<b>Destruction of underground methane at Beatrix Gold Mine</b>]]> Beatrix Gold Mine, a deep-level gold mine in the Free State province of South Africa, has the highest methane emission rate of any gold mine in the country. Methane is emitted from underground sources intersected during mining operations and is liberated into the general mine atmosphere. The total methane emission rate for the mine is of the order of 1 600 l/s and the South section of the mine emits approximately 1 000 l/s of methane gas. The mine has a history of gas accumulations which have led to a number of underground explosions. Following the last explosion in 2001 and the subsequent investigation, a number of recommendations were made. Two of these were to consider extracting the underground mine methane to render the mine atmosphere safe, and to declare hazardous locations that require special operating procedures. A number of such workplaces have now been declared at the South section of the mine. Methane gas is a potent, explosive greenhouse gas whose contribution to global warming and climate change is 21 times higher than that of carbon dioxide. To reduce its inherent danger and to mitigate its global warming impact, a carbon credit project under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol has been developed and implemented, the aim being to capture and destroy the methane at Beatrix mine. The mine has constructed an extraction system to capture and extract 400 l/s of the methane. Percentage methane (per volume) of the gas intersected at source is 85%, with negligible concentrations of other hydrocarbons and water associated. The mine contracted the services of Group Five to design and construct the flare and ancillary equipment on surface, and Promethium Carbon was contracted to assist with the carbonrelated aspects, approval framework, and administration of the project. A number of design and construction challenges had to be faced to extract and transport the gas effectively to the surface of the mine as the emitters are approximately 3 600 m away from the mine shaft at a depth of 860 m. Further considerations were the requirements for the type of column to be used to transport the methane gas, the pressure loss over the system, the safety systems needed to address the risk factors involved in the transport of the methane gas, and a suitable pumping system to extract the gas to the surface. The system operates under negative pressure provided by two blowers on surface delivering the emissions to a flare capable of burning off 450 l/s of methane gas. In this paper a number of benefits for the mine are discussed. These include, but are not limited to, the removal of approximately 55% of the total volume of methane gas from the general body of the air in the geographical areas of the mine where the methane gas is emitted into the atmosphere, and reducing the risk of methane-related incidents. A further benefit of this project is the mitigation of the global warming impact of the methane gas and the reduction of the mine's carbon footprint by approximately 25%. This project could also assist in alleviating the energy shortage being experienced in South Africa by means of the planned generation of 4 MW of electrical power, utilizing the methane gas, as a second phase of the project.