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Mining for Tomorrow Design Project

Sponsored by GE
Engineering Design 100
Section 008
Team 4
Submitted by:
Team Members:
Kathryn Chesnick
Audrey Tan
Zachary Jaczesko
Austin Barilar
Daniel Flynn

Submitted to: Xinli Wu

April 28 2017

Abstract (Kathryn Chesnick)

The goal of this project is to improve an aspect of the mining process for extracting rare

earth elements. As of now, the process is not cost efficient, harmful to the environment, and a

hazardous workplace for the employees of the mine. The main focus of the Ramp Mine is

eliminating the hazardous work environment.

Table of Contents
Introduction (
Description of Design Task
Problem Statement (
Mission Statement (
Design Specifications(

Design Process
Project Management ( .......2
Concept Generation(
Design Selection Matrix. (
Description of Best Design (

Final Design and Prototype

Design Drawings...................................5-6
System Diagram........................................7
Digital Images(
Design Features (

Engineering Analysis
Rationale for the selection recommendation(
Concept of Operations(
Life Cycle Analysis (
Assessment of important aspects of system (
Economic Viability (

Summary (
Acknowledgements (

Introduction: (Kathryn Chesnick)
This report documents the progress in designing and constructing a prototype for an

improved REE mining process. It starts with basic tasks and design specifications, next the best

design is selected and perfected, and finally a prototype was built.

Problem Statement: (Kathryn Chesnick)

The problem with REE mining is that it creates a hazardous workplace. Also the current

process is not environmentally friendly and produces harmful chemicals. People cannot work in

this environment and the system needs to be improved.

Mission Statement: (Kathryn Chesnick)

The mission of this project is to create a safer, more productive process for mining REE

ore. This new process will be more environmentally friendly, a better workplace for the

employees, and be more cost efficient.

Design Specifications: (Kathryn Chesnick)

Each team is to research, design, and develop an improved extraction strategy that

satisfies the contract solicitation requirements. The requirements are as follows:

1) Airborne contamination: including chemical and particulate emissions released to the


2) Stewardship: including care and management of the REE ore through its entire life

cycle, including final disposal of the tailings

3) Environmental management: including protection of the flora and fauna and

compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations.

4) Occupational health and workplace safety: including an emphasis on prevention or

mitigation of workplace hazards.

5) Operating costs and productivity: including development and operation of the REE

mine and ancillary costs for mining equipment, fuel, labor, electricity, water, etc.

6) Local community engagement: including the challenges that may be encountered in

engaging local and adjacent communities and emphasis on its social license to operate as a good


7) Waste management and disposal: including solid waste from the REE processing plant

and mine groundwater inflow (drainage).

8) Mine closure and rehabilitation: including prevention or mitigation of long- term

degradation impacts to the environment and consideration of future sustainability of the site.

Project Management (Daniel Flynn)

Concept Generation (Daniel Flynn)

Fig. 1 - Model A (Austin Fig. 2 - Model B (Katherine Fig. 3 - Model C (Dan Flynn)

Barilar) - System of crushers Chesnick) - Multiple crushers - Multiple crushers with

Connected by ramps. with vertical conveyor belts. Vertical conveyor belts.

Fig. 4 - Model D (Audrey Tan) - Fig. 5 - Crusher system with conveyor belts

Collection system of crushers with

Vertical conveyor belts

Design Selection Matrices (Daniel Flynn)

Model A Model B Model C Model D Model E Reference
Airborne Contamination 0 0 0 0 0 0

Environmental Management - - 0 0 0 0

Workplace Safety 0 0 0 - 0
Operation Cost + - + + + 0
Productivity + + + + + 0
Local Community Engagement 0 - - + 0 0

Waste Management + - + 0 0 0
Mine Closure and Rehabilitation + + - + 0 0

Creativity + - 0 0 +
Sum 0's 2 3 4 4 5 6
Sum -'s 1 4 2 0 1 0
Sum +s 5 2 3 4 3 0
Net Score 4 -2 1 4 2 0
Rank 1 4 3 1 2 3
Continue? Yes No No No Yes No
Table. 2 - Design Matrix
Criteria Wgt Rating Score Rating Score Rating Score
Airborne Contamination 0.10 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0
Environmental Management 0.10 0 0 -1 -0.9 1 0.20
Workplace Safety 0.20 0 0 2 0.4 1 0.15
Operation Cost 0.10 0 0 -2 -0.12 0.0 0.0
Productivity 0.10 0 0 2 0.2 -1 -0.1
Local Community 0.05 0 0 0 0 1 0.1
Waste Management 0.05 0 0 0 0 -1 -0.05
Creativity 0.30 0 0 2 0.6 0.0 0.0

TOTAL 0.0 1.08 0.30

RANK 1 2
CONTINUE? yes no
Description of Best Design
From our design matrix, the two best designs were model A and model E. From these

two, Model A, designed by Austin Barilar, was the best choice. Model A is a system of four

separate ramps with four separate conveyor belts. The Rare Earth Elements (REE ) that are being

extracted from the mine fall down the main ramp due to gravity, then onto a smaller set of ramps

that lead to crushers. The REE is then crushed by these crushers and lifted to the surface by

conveyor belts and an elevator.

Prototype/Model (Austin Barilar)

Design Drawings
Note: Original REE ore deposit has cylindrical shape with dimensions of 2200 m in

diameter and 1000m in height. The solidworks models dimensions were scaled to 1:1000 in

order to be able to design the system.

System Diagram

Digital Images

Design Features (Zachary Jaczesko)

There are many design features in the ramp mine that have been adjusted from GEs

version of a block cave mine. For starters, there will be a giant ramp placed underneath the entire

ore mine. The reason for this is because as the trucks get the ore off of the ore deposit, they will

then take that ore and dump it down holes. These holes are not ordinary holes. They are put in

specific locations around the mine so the trucks can easily access them. Once, the ore is dropped

down the hole from the truck, it will then fall onto the ramp. Once the ore lands on the ramp, it

will slide down it, and eventually fall onto a conveyor belt (which will also be shaped like a

ramp). The conveyor belt will be placed on both sides of the ramp, and the result will be at the

end of the ramps, where there is a crusher waiting for the ore to fall in, so it can be broken down

into smaller pieces. In total there will be a giant ramp underneath the mine with two sides to it.

There will be two conveyor belts, one at the end of each ramp. And finally there will be a crusher

waiting at the ends of the conveyor belts, which will make four crushers in total. Also, after the

ore has left the crushers, it will then fall onto another conveyor. All four conveyor belts from

each crusher will then link up together. From there, the ore will be brought up to the surface on

another conveyor belt. Some other design features will be GEs Membrane Filtration System.

This system will gather all of the excess water that is in the mine, filtrate it, and then the water

will be used as a cooling system. The cooling system will evaporate the cold underground water

(now clean) and blow it back into the mine to make the area nice and cool.

Engineering Analysis

Rationale for the selection of the recommendations and how it can improve

the cost effectiveness, reduce emissions while maintaining or increasing the

productiveness. (Zachary Jaczesko)

The ramp mine is a solid way to help the environmental impact of what the mine can

truly expose to its surroundings, while doing it in a very cost efficient way. The ramp mines

financial state may seem a little backwards at first. The reason for this is because the ramp will

take money to create. This is money that GE will have to come up with, because the mining

process cannot start without the ramp, so no money is being made yet. Also, there will be four

ore crushers in the mine to break down the ore. Four crushers will be a little costly as well. But,

from all this downside there is good. With all these materials and machines in place, the mine

will be able to run in a very productive way. No human intervention will be needed other than

people running the trucks to get the ore from the deposit to the drop point for the ramp. The ore

will also be carried up by a conveyor belt, this excludes the process of bringing the ore up with

trucks, thus saving money on gas and time. Also, water will be reused that is found in the mine.

The water that is found in the mine will be treated and used as a cooling system for the entire

underground area. The motto for the ramp mine is nothing is wasted. Another major key

regarding the reusability of the water is that it is never exposed to the environment. Gas

emissions will be greatly reduced as well, since no machines are bringing the ore up from the

mine (also, the GE battery load haul truck will be used to get the ore from the deposit, thus

barely any gas emissions will be had from the trucks). Finally, the ramp mine is a clean and

efficient mine, that will take money to start up, but will make more money in the end, while

greatly reducing its harmful effects to the surrounding environment.

Concept of Operations (Zachary Jaczesko)

The concept of operations of the ramp mine goes as follows. First, the goals and

objectives of this mine is to get the ore from underneath the ground to the surface in the fastest

way, while maintaining the ability to have less machines and workers inside the mine. Also

another huge goal of the mine is to reduce the effect of the mine on the environment, so the

surroundings will not be damaged. There are many strategies, tactics, policies, and constraints

affecting the mine. First, the strategy to have less workers and be more productive led to the

building of a ramp and conveyor belt system. Also, the strategy to affect the environment in the

least effective way was to use GEs Membrane Filtration System, which would clean the ground

water. But, some constraints did pop up in the process. For starters, what if a piece of ore got

caught on the ramp or conveyor belt? The solution to the problem was to build giant doors on the

beams holding the ramp up so people, or machines could get onto the ramp and fix the clogging

(the ramp and conveyor belt would be shut down in that specific area). Next, the goal for the

ramp mine was to get the community involved. The first thing the ramp mine would set up is a

bunch of cameras around the mine, which will be on 24/7. The reason the cameras are placed

inside the mine is to have the community see what's going on at all times on the ramp mines

webpage. On the webpage the user can access live streamed videos. Also, after the mining has

completed, the giant hole left on the surface will be filled in with tailings (processed so it can be

clean), and on top of the tailings will be water. The water is clean filtered water that is leftover

from the mine. Therefore a lake will be created, and the ramp mine will sponsor the building of a

country club around it for the people of the community. The responsibilities and authorities will

be shared by everyone at the mine. Everyone's job is equally important, from the engineers who

created the ramp and conveyor belts, to the workers operating the machinery. If something goes

wrong in a specific area, it is the job of the workers or designers of that section to fix the

problem, so nothing gets stagnant inside the mine. Next, the operational processes will go as

follows, the ramp will be built first, as well as the conveyor belts. GEs Membrane Filtration

System will be implemented as well. Then after everything is set up, the explosives can be

brought in to break apart the ore, and the money can start being made. The last step in the

concept of operations is retiring the mine. As it was touched upon earlier, the mine will be shut

down and closed up so no one can enter. The hole at the surface will be transformed into a lake,

grass and trees will be planted in the areas that were excavated in the years prior, and finally a

country club, built by GE will be placed near the lake.

Life Cycle Analysis (Audrey Tan)

1. Mine Construction

a) A system of ramps will be constructed below the draw points along with conveyer belts

and elevators. This prepares the mining process to run productively and cost efficiently; thus, the

extraction time period may shorten compared to the original extraction strategy.

2. Extraction

During the extraction period, community engagement and workplace safety will also be


a) Occupational Health

Most of the work will be done by gravity and few workers will be required to go down into the

mine. Using advanced technology, the mining process can be monitored and controlled at the

surface; thus, improving occupational health.

b) Workplace Safety

Groundwater drainage into the REE mine is about 10 gallons per minute, which supplies enough

water to be used to cool the mine. The water will be treated by utilizing GEs Membrane

Filtration System and will be used to dehumidify the mine by producing cool air that will

circulated throughout the mine. As a result, this method will improve air circulation and the

working conditions in the mine.

c) Community Engagement

Mining can cause a lot of disturbance to the communities; therefore, the mining process stop

operating from 8pm to 8 am. A website will also be created to get the community more involved.

On the website, there would be informative information, pictures, videos, and livestreaming of

the mining process.

As a result of block caving method, the mine concaves as time passes creating a big hole that can

be very hazardous.

3. Mine Closure

Solid waste and excess water would be treated to remove harmful chemicals. The tailings will be

processed and used in the construction of a lake that will also be filled with the treated water.

Assessment of Important Aspects of Your System for Feasibility and Adoption

(Audrey Tan)

1. Main Ramp

The REE ore falls onto the main ramp by utilizing the force of gravity. The main ramp consists

of rock walls between a row of draw points, which ensures the mine is supported from collapsing

onto the ramp. Although the main ramp must be carefully and precisely constructed, it is still

feasible with the advanced technology available. It may take some time to implement this, but in

the long run, many of the priorities of mining will be improved, such as operation cost,

productivity, an occupational health because most of the mining process will be done using

gravity and conveyer belts.

2. Small Ramps

Similar to the main ramp, the small set ramps that leads the REE ore into the crushers must be

carefully and precisely calculated. It will also utilize gravity to do most of the work and adopting

this part would also be very beneficial to the environment and the mining process.

3. Conveyer Belt

After the REE ore is crushed, the conveyer belt will move the fragments towards the elevator.

Conveyer belts are often used as a cost efficient alternative when transporting materials from one

place to another. Adopting conveyer belts into the strategy plan can increase the productivity of

the mining process along with lowering the necessity to using other machineries to transport the

ore. Therefore, it will be feasible to adopt conveyer belts in the extraction plan.

4. Elevator

On the elevator, there will be scoops that scoop the fragments of the REE ore and bring it up to

the surface. The elevator acts like a conveyer belt and like a ferris wheel. This similar method

has also been adopted by other successful mining projects and adopting the elevator can improve

the efficiency of the mining process.

Overall, when all these aspects are combined as a whole strategy plan, the plan covers many

important aspects of mining that requires improvement. This strategy plan can improve

occupational health, lower operation costs, increase productivity because the plan mainly uses

ramps. The plan may take some time but it is a very feasible plan to adopt.

Economic Viability (Audrey Tan)

This extraction strategy plan would be the best plan to implement to lower the operating

costs while increasing the productivity of the mining process. Although the operating costs

cannot be precisely calculated to compare the operating costs before and after this strategy plan

is implemented, notable changes in the extraction strategy can decrease the operating costs. The

plan mainly consists of a system of ramps that would utilize the force of gravity to do a majority

of the work. Although, this means that the mine has to be deeper compared to the original and

this might add to the operation costs, it would be beneficial in the long run. With the usage of

ramps and gravity, this would decrease the necessity for workers to go down into the mine

meaning a decrease in human resources. In addition, the usage of machines that assists with the

extraction process also decreases. As a result, it would lower operating costs making this

extraction strategy plan economically viable.


Summary (Kathryn Chesnick)

Team four believes that this project was an overall success. Team fours main focus was

to improve the safety of the employees of the mining site. It was very dangerous for workers in

the mine due to the toxins present in the mine. The idea to use ramps instead of having workers

moving the REE ore from the draw point eliminates the need for people to go deep into the mine

and risk their health, gravity is able to perform most of the work. This was a creative and unique

solution to the problem.

Acknowledgements (Daniel Flynn)

We would like to acknowledge General Electric and the Penn State College of

Engineering for sponsoring this project.

Thank you to Xinli Wu and his teaching assistants, Matt Milanek and Jerod Barone, for

creating an effective, fun, and educational learning environment to complete this project.


1) "GE: Mining Statement of Work." Penn State College of Engineering,


Accessed 17 Apr. 2017.

2) GE Water. "Mining & Minerals Water Treatment Solutions." GE Power Water and

Process Technologies, GE, Accessed 17

Apr. 2017.