Dr. SaMeH S. Ahmed

Associate Prof. of Environmental Engineering

Stoping


Stoping (mining method)


Stoping is the removal of the wanted ore from an underground mine leaving behind an open space known as a stope.[1] Stoping is used when the country rock is sufficiently strong not to cave into the stope, although in most cases artificial support is also provided. As mining progresses the stope is often backfilled with tailings, or when needed for strength, a mixture of tailings and cement.

In the past stoping took place with manual tools or by fire-setting; later gunpowder was used, and from the 19th century various other explosives and power-tools came into use.

In old mines, stopes frequently collapse at a later time, leaving craters at the surface. They are an unexpected danger when records of underground mining have been lost with the passage of time.


Types of stoping

Stoping with an air drill in an American iron mine in the 20th century (museum exhibit)
A large stope in the Treadwell gold mine, Alaska, USA 1908; an example of shrinkage stoping

A stope can be created in a variety of ways, depending on the geology of the ore body being mined. It is common to dig shafts vertically downwards to reach the ore body and then drive horizontal levels through it. Stoping then takes place from these levels, in its simplest form as overhand and underhand stoping, which refer to the removal of ore from above or below the level, respectively. In steeply-dipping ore bodies, such as lodes of tin, the stopes become long narrow near-vertical spaces, which, if one reaches the surface is known as agunnis or coffen. A common method of mining such vertical ore bodies is stull stoping, see below.

When the ore body is more or less horizontal, various forms of room and pillar stoping, cut and fill, or longwall mining can take place.

[edit]Stull stoping

Stull stoping is a form of stoping used in hardrock mining that uses systematic or random timbering ("stulls") placed between the foot and hanging wall of the vein. The method requires that the hanging wall and often the footwall be of competent rock as the stulls provide the only artificial support. This type of stope has been used up to a depth of 3,500 feet (1,077 m) and at intervals up to 12 feet (3.7 m) wide.The 1893 mining disaster at Dolcoath mine in Cornwall was caused by failure of the stulls holding up a huge weight of waste rock.

[edit]Shrinkage stoping

Shrinkage stope mining, or shrinkage stoping, is most suitable for steeply dipping ore bodies (70°—90°). In shrinkage stoping, mining proceeds from the bottom upwards, in horizontal slices (similar to cut and fill mining), with the broken ore being left in place for miners to work from. Because blasted rock takes up a greater volume than in situ rock (due to swell factor), some of the blasted ore (approximately 40%) must be removed to provide working space for the next ore slice. Once the top of the stope is reached all the ore is removed from the stope. The stope may be backfilled or left empty depending on the rock conditions.


[edit]Long hole stoping

A large stope in a salt mine in Poland - now converted into a tourist attraction

Long hole stoping can be the lowest cost method when large ore bodies are located in strong country rock. In operation, it is similar to an underground version of quarrying.

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