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[Online] Efficient Exploitation of Deep Mineral Resources

Guest Editors-in-Chief 
Cai, Meifeng, University of Science and Technology Beijing, China
Brown, Edwin T., The University of Queensland, Australia
Executive Editors-in-Chief
Kaiser, Peter K., Laurentian University, Canada
Wu, Aixiang, University of Science and Technology Beijing, China
Barla, Giovanni, Politecnico di Torino, Italy
Board, Mark P., Hecla Mining Company, USA
Brady, Barry, The University of Western Australia, Australia
Feng, Xia-Ting, Northeastern University, China
Jiang, Yaodong, China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing), China
Li, Xibing, Central South University, China
Malan, Francois, South African National Institute of Rock Engineering, South Africa
Shao, Anlin, Ansteel Group Corporation, China
Zhou, Guoqing, China University of Mining and Technology, China
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The Use of Data Mining Techniques in Rockburst Risk Assessment
Luis Ribeiro e Sousa, Tiago Miranda, Rita Leal e Sousa, Joaquim Tinoco
Engineering    2017, 3 (4): 552-558.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.002
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Rockburst is an important phenomenon that has affected many deep underground mines around the world. An understanding of this phenomenon is relevant to the management of such events, which can lead to saving both costs and lives. Laboratory experiments are one way to obtain a deeper and better understanding of the mechanisms of rockburst. In a previous study by these authors, a database of rockburst laboratory tests was created; in addition, with the use of data mining (DM) techniques, models to predict rockburst maximum stress and rockburst risk indexes were developed. In this paper, we focus on the analysis of a database of in situ cases of rockburst in order to build influence diagrams, list the factors that interact in the occurrence of rockburst, and understand the relationships between these factors. The in situ rockburst database was further analyzed using different DM techniques ranging from artificial neural networks (ANNs) to naive Bayesian classifiers. The aim was to predict the type of rockburst—that is, the rockburst level—based on geologic and construction characteristics of the mine or tunnel. Conclusions are drawn at the end of the paper.

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Monitoring, Warning, and Control of Rockburst in Deep Metal Mines
Xia-Ting Feng,Jianpo Liu,Bingrui Chen,Yaxun Xiao,Guangliang Feng,Fengpeng Zhang
Engineering    2017, 3 (4): 538-545.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.013
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This paper reviews the recent achievements made by our team in the mitigation of rockburst risk. It includes the development of neural network modeling on rockburst risk assessment for deep gold mines in South Africa, an intelligent microseismicity monitoring system and sensors, an understanding of the rockburst evolution process using laboratory and in situ tests and monitoring, the establishment of a quantitative warning method for the location and intensities of different types of rockburst, and the development of measures for the dynamic control of rockburst. The mitigation of rockburst at the Hongtoushan copper mine is presented as an illustrative example.

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Some Challenges of Deep Mining
Charles Fairhurst
Engineering    2017, 3 (4): 527-537.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.017
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An increased global supply of minerals is essential to meet the needs and expectations of a rapidly rising world population. This implies extraction from greater depths. Autonomous mining systems, developed through sustained R&D by equipment suppliers, reduce miner exposure to hostile work environments and increase safety. This places increased focus on “ground control” and on rock mechanics to define the depth to which minerals may be extracted economically. Although significant efforts have been made since the end of World War II to apply mechanics to mine design, there have been both technological and organizational obstacles. Rock in situ is a more complex engineering material than is typically encountered in most other engineering disciplines. Mining engineering has relied heavily on empirical procedures in design for thousands of years. These are no longer adequate to address the challenges of the 21st century, as mines venture to increasingly greater depths. The development of the synthetic rock mass (SRM) in 2008 provides researchers with the ability to analyze the deformational behavior of rock masses that are anisotropic and discontinuous—attributes that were described as the defining characteristics of in situ rock by Leopold Müller, the president and founder of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM), in 1966. Recent developments in the numerical modeling of large-scale mining operations (e.g., caving) using the SRM reveal unanticipated deformational behavior of the rock. The application of massive parallelization and cloud computational techniques offers major opportunities: for example, to assess uncertainties in numerical predictions; to establish the mechanics basis for the empirical rules now used in rock engineering and their validity for the prediction of rock mass behavior beyond current experience; and to use the discrete element method (DEM) in the optimization of deep mine design. For the first time, mining—and rock engineering—will have its own mechanics-based “laboratory.” This promises to be a major tool in future planning for effective mining at depth. The paper concludes with a discussion of an opportunity to demonstrate the application of DEM and SRM procedures as a laboratory, by back-analysis of mining methods used over the 80-year history of the Mount Lyell Copper Mine in Tasmania.

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Key Technology Research on the Efficient Exploitation and Comprehensive Utilization of Resources in the Deep Jinchuan Nickel Deposit
Zhiqiang Yang
Engineering    2017, 3 (4): 559-566.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.021
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To understand the resource features and geology in the deep Jinchuan nickel deposit, difficult geological conditions were systematically analyzed, including high stress, fragmentized ore rock, prevalent deformation, difficult tunnel support, complicated rock mechanics, and low mining recovery. An integrated technology package was built for safe, efficient, and continuous mining in a deep, massive, and complex nickel and cobalt mine. This was done by the invention of a large-area continuous mining method with honeycomb drives; the establishment of ground control theory and a technology package for high-stress and fragmented ore rock; and the development of a new type of backfilling cement material, along with a deep backfilling technology that comprises the pipeline transport of high-density slurry with coarse aggregates. In this way, good solutions to existing problems were found to permit the efficient exploitation and comprehensive utilization of the resources in the deep Jinchuan nickel mine. In addition, a technological demonstration in an underground mine was performed using the cemented undercut-and-fill mining method for stressful, fragmented, and rheological rock.

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Opportunities and Challenges in Deep Mining: A Brief Review
Pathegama G. Ranjith,Jian Zhao,Minghe Ju,Radhika V. S. De Silva,Tharaka D. Rathnaweera,Adheesha K. M. S. Bandara
Engineering    2017, 3 (4): 546-551.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.04.024
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Mineral consumption is increasing rapidly as more consumers enter the market for minerals and as the global standard of living increases. As a result, underground mining continues to progress to deeper levels in order to tackle the mineral supply crisis in the 21st century. However, deep mining occurs in a very technical and challenging environment, in which significant innovative solutions and best practice are required and additional safety standards must be implemented in order to overcome the challenges and reap huge economic gains. These challenges include the catastrophic events that are often met in deep mining engineering: rockbursts, gas outbursts, high in situ and redistributed stresses, large deformation, squeezing and creeping rocks, and high temperature. This review paper presents the current global status of deep mining and highlights some of the newest technological achievements and opportunities associated with rock mechanics and geotechnical engineering in deep mining. Of the various technical achievements, unmanned working-faces and unmanned mines based on fully automated mining and mineral extraction processes have become important fields in the 21st century.

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