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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


PETIT, P.J  and  FRASER, P.D. What is the best energy-delivery system for hand-held stope drilling and associated equipment in narrow-reef hard rock mines?. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.3, pp.00-00. ISSN 2411-9717.

Changing mining conditions, legislative issues, rising costs, and the constrained supply of skills and electricity in South Africa, have been some of the criteria forcing mine operators and engineers to review the traditional use of compressed air to power underground hand-held drilling operations in narrow-stope, hard-rock mines. In answering the question, 'What is the best way to power this mine?', they have resorted to trade-off studies with results of limited usefulness, because they are site-specific, and use only a few comparative parameters, based on a small data set. This paper aims to provide definitive, objective, and quantitative decision-making approaches to evaluating alternative energy-delivery systems for stoping in narrow-reef hard rock mines, based on primary and relevant criteria. These include quantifiable criteria such as capital expenditure, operating costs, resulting financial returns, energy and water usage, production performance, life-of-mine, etc. Other important criteria with qualitative aspects are integrated. These are safety, health, and environmental concerns, legislative requirements, business risk, technology change, etc. The paper begins with a review of decision-making processes available, and proposes the use of the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) method as a multiple-criteria decision-making tool and the decision tree based on milestone-driven uncertainties, to validate the selection of the energy delivery system. The results of a multiple-criteria questionnaire completed by a variety of industry experts and professionals, such as production and operation managers, consultants, suppliers, and techno-financial analysts, are discussed. The evaluation indicates the potential for hydropower to be the best solution for narrow-reef hard rock mines, based on current information, mine design layout and production.

Keywords : hand-held stope drilling; energy delivery system; multiple-criteria decision-making (MCDM); analytical hierarchical process (AHP); valuation; sensitivities; scenarios; decision-tree analysis..

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