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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717

Abstract

OSBURN, K. et al. Enhanced geological modelling of the Upper Elsburg reefs and VCR to optimize mechanized mine planning at South Deep Gold Mine. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.3, pp. 265-273. ISSN 2411-9717.

South Deep Gold Mine, owned by Gold Fields Ltd., is situated near Westonaria in the Gauteng Province of South Africa and mines the conglomerate bands of the Upper Elsburg reefs (Mondeor Conglomerate Formation) of the Witwatersrand Supergroup and the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (VCR) of the Ventersdorp Supergroup. The stoping and underground developments are mechanized. The Upper Elsburg reefs are mined by a variety of mining methods, including mechanized drift and fill, modified drift and bench, longhole stoping, and low-profile mining. Optimal mine design and scheduling for deep-level mechanized mining are complex, and success is highly dependent on detailed, robust, and accurate geological and geostatistical models. Geological structures significantly influence the sedimentological characteristics, distribution, and preservation of the Upper Elsburg reefs and VCR. Accordingly, particular emphasis is placed on the generation of a mine-scale structural model that accommodates the relationships between the older north-trending fault systems (West Rand and Panvlakte faults) and younger east-trending dextral wrench faults. Results from underground mapping, borehole intersections, and high-resolution three-dimensional seismic data have been integrated to produce coherent three-dimensional geological models. The Upper Elsburg reefs suboutcrop against the VCR and comprise an easterly diverging clastic wedge, thickening from the suboutcrop position, to approximately 130 m at the mine's eastern boundary. The Upper Elsburg reefs are characterized by conglomerate and quartzite bands forming multiple, stacked, upward-fining unconformity-bounded couplets. Palaeocurrent directions are dominantly from west-northwest to east-southeast, indicating that the more proximal deposits are preserved close to the suboutcrop, with distal facies to the east. Sedimentological modelling is applied to individual stratigraphic units and caters for facies definition. This is achieved through channel width (CW) kriging and fitting of type sections to borehole and mapping data. Homogenous geological geozones for each stratigraphic unit are thus defined within individual structural blocks on the basis of those sedimentological parameters that have been found to have a positive spatial correlation to gold concentration. These geozones then serve as constraints to the evaluation of the orebody. This contribution presents a summary of the modelling processes that are currently applied in the development of high-confidence, timeously produced geological models that are essential input for mineral resource estimation and mechanized mine planning and scheduling

Keywords : Witwatersrand Basin; West Rand Goldfield; South Deep Gold Mine; Upper Elsburg reefs; VCR; geological modelling; mine planning and scheduling; gold distribution; channel width.

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