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Method: Sublevel Caving

Case Study: Sublevel Cave mining update at the INCOs Stobie Mine
Problem: How to maintain a viable mining operation at a current higher production levels.

Stobie Mine is an underground bulk mine operated in Sudbury basin in northern ontorio and
they mine a low-grade nickel-coper. In connection with this, a problem was formulated in which
finding a way to maintain a viable mining operation and at the same time maintaining its high
production levels. To ensure the economic viability of the mine, advances in all areas of production
are needed such as development, drilling, loading and mucking. In fact, the estimated value of a
property indicates whether or not it can be developed into a viable mining operation.
The group proposes several ideas on how to solve this problem, however, we first look in the
bigger picture of the problem. First, consider that when determining the viability of transitioning of an
exploration property to a profitable mine, the total picture must be assessed. Observe that the Stobie
Mine is initially an open-pit mine and later they begin operating underground. According to some
research, most open-pit mine that undergoes underground mine after can mine a low-grade products
during the underground operation. Hence, it is clearly stated that the Stobie Mine operating
underground will mine a low grade product. As we all know, a low grade ore means having a low
productivity cost. But, the bigger picture is this, Stobie Mine have lower grades but can be highly
valuable despite the lower average grade by maximizing the tonnage of the ore. It will help in
increasing the productivity level of the mine because after all the tonnage contained in the deposit is
the last and most important piece of the puzzle.

Secondly, the company should discuss for

innovations for the facilities and chemicals used to maximize the production tonnage of ores. As a part
of the solution, we think that the company should conduct a study and evaluation whether the
facilities used are useful enough to increase the ore production. Those that are rarely used can be cast
out from the mine to minimize the cost for the facilities and on the same time it can help in increasing
the revenue of the company and can definitely maintain its high production levels. In connection with
this, choosing an innovative method can also be a solution. A Method that can minimize the cost for
the production and that can also make an advantage for the underground operation. Obviously, the
group suggested Sublevel Caving method for the reason that it shows different advantages that varies
its usefulness in the operation. The main advantage of this method is that Sublevel Caving is a low
cost method so it means that the company saves money for the operation and can patch our main
problem in which maintaining the high productivity levels despite of a low grade ore. However, there
are more advantages of this method that can greatly contribute for the underground operation. The
following are the advantages of Sublevel Caving varying in their application in the mine:

1. Support/Control
- It can be applied to both hard and moderately weak ground.
- All operations tale place in drift size headings that can be well supported and provide good
conditions for accident prevention.
2. Personnel
- Activities can be specialized, simplifying training of personnel and reducing the number of
miners required
3. Operation
- Flexible Mine Operations
- Increased Efficiency
- Increased Production
With this different advantages, we can really say that choosing Sublevel Caving as an
innovative method for the Stobie Mine can somehow help in maintaining a viable mining operation.
Note: Final paragraph is just an additional suggestion from the groups point of views and research.
Finally, we come up to this final solution/suggestion in which we consider the man power of
the company. As we can observe, we are treating our problem in terms of its facilities and method.
Thus, it will really come down to the hands of the personnel. The one who can really think for a better
solution are those persons who are capable enough and really know the field they are working.
According to the study conducted by Australian researchers (Jackson & Gilberson, 2012), capabilities
are interconnected people, knowledge, systems, tools, and processes that distinguish a company in the
market. With this, we are proposing as our final solution that the man power in the company should
thoroughly trained in order for them to have a mastery in their job and can definitely manage any
circumstances or problems in the company. The bottom line is when your company has a person who
can really think widely and have the capability then surely the company can produce varieties of
solutions that can maintain a viable mining operation at a current higher production rates.