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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

Print version ISSN 0038-223X

Abstract

FERREIRA, S.J.S. A trade-off study between down-dip and breast mining on the Merensky Reef at Khomanani 2. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.4, pp. 257-266. ISSN 0038-223X.

Anglo American Platinum's Khomanani 2 shaft changed over from down-dip mining to breast mining in 2004. The changeover was made to ensure that production targets were met, as it was said that predevelopment for down-dip mining was not fast enough to sustain the required ore reserves; nevertheless, production performance did not increase as expected. In this study a trade-off was performed between down-dip mining and breast mining on the Merensky Reef at Khomanani 2 in order to find the most suitable method for mining the Merensky Reef. Data was gathered by means of a literature survey, underground observations, and interviews with personnel as well as data from various departments on the mine. The two mining methods were studied and then evaluated in terms of the following criteria: safety, mining rate, cost and other factors which were identified as the main drivers of the mine. A scaling system was used to rate the performance of the two mining methods. Analysis of the results shows that down-dip mining and breast mining have the same safety performance ratings. Breast mining has a better mining rate performance than down-dip mining. Breast mining was found to be costly in comparison with down-dip mining, which has a good cost performance rating. The overall ratings of the two mining methods are very similar, with down-dip mining achieving a rating of 76 and breast mining 75.5 out of an optimum 102. Khomanani 2 currently practices breast mining, and with such a slight difference in performance rating between the two methods, it will not be worth changing over to down-dip mining as production is likely to be adversely affected during the changeover. Down-dip mining does, however, have potential for improvement in its performance rating. Further studies focusing on the improvement of the mining rate performance for down-dip mining are needed to see if this potential can be realized. If significant improvement can be made in the performance rating for down-dip mining, a changeover to down-dip mining can be reconsidered.

Keywords : Down-dip mining; breast mining; Merensky Reef; trade-off; comparison.

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