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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 2225-6253


GUSTAFSON, A. et al. Operator influence on the loading process at LKAB's iron ore mines. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2020, vol.120, n.3, pp.191-202. ISSN 2411-9717.

The loading process in sublevel caving mines entails loading material from the drawpoint using load haul dump machines that transport the material to orepasses or trucks, depending on the mine conditions. When each bucket is drawn from the drawpoint, a decision must be made as to whether loading should continue or be stopped and the next ring blasted. The decision to abandon the drawpoint is irrevocable, as it is followed by the blasting of the next ring. Abandonment of the drawpoint too early leads to ore losses and inefficient use of ore resources. Loading beyond the optimal point increases dilution as well as mining costs. The experience of the LHD operators is an important basis for manual drawpoint control. However, it has been difficult to establish which specific factors manual drawpoint control is based on. To try to shed more light on these factors we analysed the operators' experiences at LKAB's Kiirunavaara and Malmberget iron ore mines. The operators in the two mines completed a questionnaire on the current loading practices and the process of deciding to abandon 'normal' rings, opening rings, and rings with loading issues. It was found that in both case study mines, most decisions on the abandonment of drawpoints are made by the operators. The more experienced operators tend to make more decisions themselves rather than rely on support from the existing support functions.

Keywords : loading process; operator influence; decision control; sublevel caving; load haul dump machine; draw control.

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