Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy]]> vol. 116 num. 12 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Renewable Energy - <i>Quo Vadis?</i></b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Reflections on 2016 and a look ahead to 2017</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Potential use of thin spray-on liners for gas management in underground coal mines</b>]]> Coal seam gas problems can adversely affect the safety and productivity of underground coal mines, leading to fatalities and financial losses. Conventional gas management technologies using ventilation and gas drainage are unable to deal with the high and irregular gas emissions associated with high-production longwall mining. New technologies need to be developed to supplement the traditional gas management techniques to minimize the hazard of coal seam gas. Thin spray-on liners (TSLs) have gained some success for rock surface support since their introduction to the mining industry. Due to their relatively low permeability and appropriate mechanical properties, TSLs also show potential to be used as a gas management tool in underground coal mines. In this paper we review the current gas management challenges and discuss the potential use of TSLs as a gas management tool in underground coal mines. This may involve reducing gas migration into the excavations/roadways, enhancing in-seam gas drainage, and preventing spontaneous combustion. Some potential areas for future research work are identified. <![CDATA[<b>A methodology for laboratory testing of rockbolts used in underground mines under dynamic loading conditions</b>]]> Underground mining is subject to various natural hazards such as seismic events, rockbursts, fire, and gas (methane). In general, an increase in the extraction depth causes an increase in the likelihood of these hazards, especially seismic activity and rockbursts. Dynamic phenomena such as rockbursts and tremors have been recorded on six continents: Europe (Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Slovenia), Asia (India, and China), North and South America (USA, Canada, and Chile), Africa (South Africa), and Australia. To select appropriate mine working supports for such dynamic phenomena, the performance characteristics of such support types must be determined under both static and dynamic load conditions. This article presents information regarding the application of rockbolts in Polish underground hard-coal mines. Dynamic phenomena occurring in the mines from 2004-2013 are also characterized. A methodology developed at the Central Mining Institute (GIG) for the laboratory testing of rockbolts is presented. In this methodology, the bolts are loaded by the direct impact of a free-moving mass (up to 20 000 kg) at speeds of up to 1.2 m/s. The facilities at GIG used to test the support under static and dynamic load conditions are characterized, and the results of laboratory tests on yielding bolts with a nominal capacity of 420 kN are presented. These types of bolts are commonly used for reinforcing steel arches and the surrounding rock mass in Polish coal mines. The results of the laboratory testing of yielding bolts are discussed.. <![CDATA[<b>Extraction of zinc from zinc ferrites by alkaline leaching: enhancing recovery by mechanochemical reduction with metallic iron</b>]]> This study evaluates the efficiency of using mechanochemical reduction to assist the extraction of zinc from zinc ferrites by alkaline leaching. The transition of zinc ferrite into a metastable state after mechanochemical reduction with metallic iron contributes to the ready dissolution of zinc from the activated zinc ferrites in alkaline solution. Zinc ferrites were mechanochemically reduced under conditions of Fe:ZnFe2O4 mole ratio of 2:1, using 5 mm diameter stainless steel balls as the activation medium at a mass ratio of balls to raw materials of 25:1. Subsequent leaching in 6 mol/L NaOH solution at 90°C resulted in more than 70% Zn extraction. These results may be used to further develop a hydrometallurgical process for recovering zinc from zinc ferrites in alkaline solution. <![CDATA[<b>Optimization of flotation pH for the reverse flotation of an African low-grade BIF haematite ore</b>]]> This article presents laboratory test work conducted on an African haematite ore to determine the influence of the flotation pulp pH on the final iron grade and recovery. Results show that a combination of an isodecyl ether propylene amine/amino acetate and 1,3-propanediamine, N-(3-(C10-C16-alkyloxy)propyl)-derivatives collector is suitable for separating haematite from quartz. Higher iron grades were obtained at pH levels between neutral and pH 9. This underlines the importance of the surface charge effect of the ore on its flotation characteristics. The results serve as good baseline conditions for further optimization. <![CDATA[<b>Distinguishing and controlling the key block structure of close-spaced coal seams in China</b>]]> Based on the complicated geological production conditions and abnormal strata behavior of the fully mechanized caving face No. 102 in the Xinyang Coal Mine, we analyze the breaking and forming process of distinguishing key block structures in close spaced coal seams. This analysis establishes an integrated mechanical model of these distinguishing structures. Furthermore, the horizontal force T ABgenerated by downward key blocks A and B is quantified, as is the Pressure P Gexerted by key block B on caved gangue. Finally, the interaction mechanism is revealed. Analysis of the results using Mathematica reveal the following: 1. Both T ABand P G exhibit approximately inverse relationships to coal pillar width b; 2. T AB exhibits an approximately exponential relationship with mining height M of which the base is greater than 1; 3. PG exhibits an approximately arctangent relationship with mining height M. Combining these results with field observations, we conclude that the area in the vicinity of supports 100#-120# in the upper area of working face No. 102 is the likely zone of abnormal strata behavior. Thus, this area was classified as a key control area. Based on these results, the graded support control technique is proposed. Application of this technique in the field resulted in a reduction in the rate of hydraulic support system malfunction from 47% to 7% in the key control area. In addition, during times of periodic mining pressure, the roof caving height value never exceeded 0.3 m and the maximum spalling depth never exceeded 0.2 m. Overall, the results indicate that this new technique has markedly increased the stability of surrounding support rock material. <![CDATA[<b>Productivity of rock reinforcement: methodology development</b>]]> The working environment for ground support installation in mines has improved during the last 20-30 years, with more mechanized equipment for installation of ground support elements such as bolts, cable bolts, and screens. Ground support installation productivity has, however, not followed the same development curve, remaining more or less constant. In some cases, for example the mechanized installation of bolts, productivity has even dropped. One reason for this is that modern mechanized bolt rigs are complex. In this paper we evaluate manual and mechanized ground support systems, propose a way to measure the productivity of bolt rigs, and make relevant comparisons between different mines and equipment. Some productivity measures for rock reinforcement are suggested, using productivity results from eight case study mines. <![CDATA[<b>Integrated optimization of stope boundary selection and scheduling for sublevel stoping operations</b>]]> The decreasing availability of resources amenable to surface operations has led to increasing numbers of underground mines, with trends indicating this will continue into the future. As a result, there is a need for additional optimization processes and techniques for underground mines, with many analogous methods having already been developed for surface mining. Current methods for design and optimization of stope boundary selection and scheduling mainly involve heuristic methods which focus on a single lever. Individual optimality may be approached, but globally optimal results can be obtained only by an integrated, rigorous approach. In this paper we review previous methodologies for stope boundary selection and medium- to long-term scheduling and highlight the need for an integrated approach. Previous integrated approaches are reviewed and an improved modelling system proposed for shorter solution times and greater applicability to mining situations. Randomly generated data-sets for gold-copper mineralization are used to investigate the model performance, describing solution time as a function of data complexity. <![CDATA[<b>Estimating the effects of line brattice ventilation system variables in an empty heading in room and pillar mining using CFD</b>]]> The ventilation of underground coal mines plays an important role in minimizing the risk of methane and coal dust explosions. The ability of ventilation, with the use of line brattices (LBs), to remove methane and coal dust in empty headings is dependent on the amount of air leaving the LB and entering the heading. The quantity of this air depends on the associated system variables, namely heading dimensions, settings of the LB, and velocity of air in the last through road (LTR). However, the exact effect of these system variables on the flow rate at the exit of the LB in an empty heading is not known. The installation of LBs in South African coal mines is generally carried out based on experience. This can result in over-or under-ventilation and may increase the cost of providing ventilation or cause accidents, respectively. In this paper, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the air flow rate at the exit of the LB in an empty heading was estimated using full-scale three-dimensional models. The CFD model used was validated using experimental results Firstly, the settings of these three system variables were varied, the flow rates at the exit of the LB were measured, and finally the results were used to calculate the effect of each system variable. The outcome is a mathematical formula that can be used to estimate air flow rate at the exit of the LB in empty headings for any practical scenario. This paper will help the coal mining sector in South Africa by providing estimation models based on scientific reasoning for the installation of LBs, and will also serve academia as part of the curriculum towards educating future mining engineers. <![CDATA[<b>Extraction of copper and gold from anode slime of Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex</b>]]> A hydrometallurgical route was developed to extract metals such as gold, silver, copper, and selenium from anode slime from Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex in Iran. For the extraction of copper by leaching, the anode slime was heated and stirred with 4 M sulphuric acid in the presence of oxygen. Optimal conditions for recovery of copper were temperature 80°C, mixing time 5 hours, and oxygen flow rate 2 L/min, resulting in a copper recovery of 94.47%. Silver and selenium were dissolved by leaching anode slime from which the copper had been removed with nitric acid. For gold extraction, anode slime was heated with aqua regia at 90°, and the gold then extracted with 2-ethyl-hexanol at a concentration of 0.5 M and phase ratio of 4. The extract was then stripped with soda solution at pH=10.5 and a phase ratio of 5. Finally, gold was recovered by precipitation with oxalic acid at a ratio of mass to volume 10 g/L. Total gold recovery was 80%. <![CDATA[<b>Investigation of the reactivity and grain size of lime calcined at extra-high temperatures by flash heating</b>]]> In low-carbon energy-efficient basic oxygen furnace (BOF) steelmaking processes, limestone partly or completely replaces the active lime. The effects of limestone calcination temperature (1200-1500°C) and time (5-15 minutes) on lime reactivity and CaO grain size were investigated. The reactivity was evaluated by titration with hydrochloric acid, and the CaO grain size was analysed using scanning electron microscopy. The results revealed that for calcination temperatures higher than 1300°C, the reactivity reached a maximum and then decreased . The higher the temperature, the earlier the peak of reactivity appears. The CaO grains grow with increasing temperature and time, which leads to the decrease of reactivity. Notably, the effects of temperature on CaO grain size and reactivity are more marked than that of time. To obtain active lime calcined at ultra-high temperature by flash heating, the calcination conditions should be 1300-1400°C for 10-15 minutes, or 1400-1500°C for 8-10 minutes. <![CDATA[<b>Thermodynamic analysis and experimental studies of magnesium extraction from szaibelyite-suanite ore by aluminium</b>]]> Szaibelyite-suanite type ore is rich in magnesium oxide and boron oxide. We propose a new method to extract both metallic magnesium and valuable residues rich in boron by reduction using metallic aluminium. Thermodynamic analysis of the reactions between aluminum and MgO, MgjB2O5, and Μ&Β(2)0(6) was carried out. The effects of CaF2 addition, temperature, mass of Al, and pellet formation pressure on the extraction of magnesium were also investigated experimentally. The results indicate that the magnesium oxide phase can be displaced from 2MgO-B2O3 and 3MgOB2O3 by CaO in the reduction system. The reduction ratio of magnesium oxide was 38% without calcium fluoride addition, increasing to 94% with 5.1% calcium fluoride. The reduction ratio increased with increasing temperature and mass of Al. To obtain a higher reduction ratio, the reduction pellet should be formed under a reasonable pressure <![CDATA[<b>Spark plasma sintering (SPS) - an advanced sintering technique for structural nanocomposite materials</b>]]> The consolidation of nano-sized composite materials presents a challenge using conventional hot pressing methods. Spark plasma sintering (SPS) technology has shown great promise in the successful sintering of nano-reinforced composite materials. This qualitative review seeks to impart knowledge gathered, and progress made over the years on the consolidation of nanocomposite materials using SPS technology. The review is aimed at introducing this technology to the South African science and engineering community. Emphasis is on improving the mechanical properties of structural ceramic nanocomposite materials, which over the years have shown great promise in a wide range of applications, including transport, energy, mining, and the environment. Although success has been achieved within the laboratory for research purposes, there are still great opportunities to commercialize the technology for the production of larger components with more complex shapes. <![CDATA[<b>Experimental investigation and numerical simulation of surrounding rock creep for deep mining tunnels</b>]]> In deep excavations under conditions of high ground stress, even hard rock undergoes creep and other time-dependent effects that may result in instability. This study involves an analysis of the typical damage to the surrounding rock in the deep tunnels of the Jinchuan nickel mine in China. In order to understand the creep mechanism, triaxial creep laboratory tests were conducted under high stress. The creep characteristic curves and the Nishihara model parameters of typical rock were obtained from these tests. The numerical simulations, with which the creep model is developed, were performed using Flac3D. The creep model parameters were back-analysed on the basis of field monitoring data. Finally, appropriate support schemes for deep tunnels are suggested. The creep deformation of rock increases with time and axial load. At the same load level, the creep deformation of unloading is greater than that of loading. The simulated deformations of the surrounding rock are coincident with those from in situ monitoring, indicating the applicability of the presented rock creep model in situations of high ground stress. The results constitute a reference for support design in deep mining tunnels. rock creep, high ground stress, deformation, modelling, numerical simulation. <![CDATA[<b>A three-tier method of stability evaluation for coal mines in the Witbank and Highveld coalfields</b>]]> The probability of survival of coal pillars is a more rational indicator of stability than the safety factor. Over time, pillars undergo reduction in size by progressive scaling of the sidewalls. The probability of survival is therefore not constant but reduces over time. The rate of scaling can be quantified, and the reduction of the probability of survival as a function of time can therefore also be quantified. The paper describes the link between the factor of safety, probability of survival, and reduction of the probability of survival. Using the safety factor, probability of survival, and the time at which the probability of survival will reduce to 50% is proposed as a more rational method of evaluating pillar stability than the safety factor alone.