Hylke Glass 1  ,  
University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
Rio Tinto, 6 St James’s Square, London SW1Y 4AD, UK
Mining Science 2019;26:157–171
Block caving is an underground mining technique which extracts ore from the base, rather than from the top, of typically massive deposits. Mining infrastructure is developed below the deposit before extraction commences. A network of tunnels provides access to a collection of drawpoints from which ore is hauled. With large deposits, not all drawpoints are developed simultaneously and the opening of drawpoints is sequenced to facilitate orderly extraction of ore columns above drawpoints. Sequencing fixes the initiation point for the entire block cave, or a part of it, as well as identifying the direction of cave advancement. The drawpoint opening sequence exerts influence on the block cave mine economics. This paper discusses the optimisation of sequencing based on the net present value associated with extraction over the life-of-mine. It is shown that the maximum attainable net present value is obtained by a sequence in which ore columns are ranked in descending order of value. If significant variation of grade is present inside columns, an iterative procedure is given which corrects the sequence which yields the maximum net present value. The sequence with maximum net present value may not be practical or attractive from a caving perspective. Systematic design of sequences which permit orderly development of a block cave is discussed. To provide context, the net present value obtained from these feasible sequences is compared with the maximum attainable net present value. It is shown that the best feasible sequences are preferentially initiated in zones with columns of high-grade ore.
Hylke Glass   
University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
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