Numerical investigation of caved rock mass friction and fragmentation change influence on gravity flow formation in sublevel caving

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Abstract

Metal grade dilution is the main production disadvantage of the sublevel caving method, and overcoming this problem has been investigated over the years using different methodologies. Herein, numerical simulation using the discrete element method is used to analyze the influence of friction and fragmentation change in caved rock mass on ore dilution and recovery. The individual and mutual change of each parameter is analyzed. It is considered that at the beginning, the friction angle can be lower or higher than the basic friction angle, and after a certain moment, it will come close to the basic friction value, while fragmentation always decreases. The results showed that both friction and fragmentation, when decreasing, are influencing the higher dilution due to smaller kinematic resistance in the caved mass. If lower friction than the basic one is considered, with the drop of fragmentation, the decrease of dilution occurs. Once the basic friction angle is reached, the fragmentation of the caved mass becomes the dominant influencing factor, and its decrease will continuously increase the dilution until the end of production. However, identifying periods when these changes occur, the possibility for better production planning opens at the design stage, as well as the application of different sublevel designs.

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Lapčević, V., & Torbica, S. (2017). Numerical investigation of caved rock mass friction and fragmentation change influence on gravity flow formation in sublevel caving. Minerals, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/min7040056

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