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Simulation modeling validates

load and haul requirements


at Cortez Gold Mines

Simulation modeling was used to increase productivity at Cortez Gold Mines in north central Nevada.

C
ortez Gold Mines completed a feasibility study for The simulation modeling discussed here was instru-
a new openpit gold mine in north central Nevada. mental in demonstrating to CJV management the ability
The production schedule calls for a peak in mate- to achieve the production schedules presented in the
rial movement. This schedule is based on current opera- feasibility study.
tional efficiencies and equipment parameters observed at
the companys existing openpit operation. Cortez Hills deposit
To mitigate risks of over/under predicting production, Cortez Hills is a high-grade gold deposit located at the
simulation modeling was used to validate the loading and base of Mount Tenabo in the southern end of Crescent Val-
haulage requirements during the peak production period. ley, NV. The deposit is steep
The advantage of simulation is the ability to provide a dipping with an oxide and
realistic model of a mining operation based on scheduled refractory ore component.
and unscheduled random events during the period under It is open at depth and plans T.L. Dyer and
analysis. are in place for exploration
The Cortez Joint Venture (CJV) is owned by Barrick of underground targets be- W.L. Jacobsen
Gold (60 percent) and Kennecott Minerals (40 percent), low the proposed pit designs.
with Barrick Gold as the operating partner. CJV is com- The location of Cortez Hills T.L. Dyer, member SME, is senior
pleting a feasibility study for the mining of the Cortez Hills and Pediment deposits are
and Pediment deposits. Figure. 1 shows the location of CJV shown in Fig. 1. mining engineer with Cortez Gold Mines,
controlled property. The two deposits are located approxi- Pit designs for the deposit HC 66 Box 1250, Crescent Valley, NV,
mately 16 km (10 miles) east of the Pipeline operations, take into consideration chal- 89821, e-mail tom_dyer@barrick.
which are currently being mined by the joint venture. lenging geotechnical issues.
A feasibility study was initiated in 2004 and completed The two deposits will share
com. W.L. Jacobsen, member SME,
in 2005. Within the material schedule, a period of peak a common highwall. It has is principle consultant with Mine and
production was identified as a risk issue. To validate the a maximum height of 671 m Mill Simulations, 1042 Fort Union
ability of the truck and shovel equipment fleet to produce (2,200 ft) from crest to toe Blvd., #34, Salt Lake City, UT, e-mail
at the mining rates required, a simulation study of the on the higher side, and 518
truck and shovel interactions was commissioned. m (1,700 ft) on the northern waynejacobsen@yahoo.com.

Mining Engineering January 2007 39


Table 1
Cortez and Pediment reserves.
Tonnes Grade Contained Tons Grade Contained
Cortez Hills (millions) (g/t) kg (millions) (oz/ton) ounces
Proven reserves 22.65 4.77 107,988 24.97 0.139 3,471,952
Probable reserves 7.67 3.39 25,981 8.45 0.099 853,328
Proven & probable 30.32 4.42 133,969 33.42 0.129 4,307,280
Tonnes Grade Contained Tons Grade Contained
Pediment (millions) (g/t) kg (millions) (oz/ton) ounces
Proven reserves 14.77 1.10 16,306 16.28 0.032 524,273
Probable reserves 19.52 1.14 22,199 21.51 0.033 713,735
Proven and probable 34.28 1.12 38,506 37.79 0.033 1,238,008
Total proven & probable
reserves 64.60 2.670 172,475 71.21 0.078 5,545,288

rim. Pit designs extend 1,585 m (5,200 ft) wide by 2,286 the current Pipeline milling facility. A conveyor system
m (7,500 ft) long. Total reserves as reported in September to move material across the valley to the Pipeline mill is
2005 are shown in Table 1. being proposed as part of the feasibility study.
Low-grade oxide ores will be leached onsite at a leach
facility to be constructed as part of the development for Operational constraints: Material schedule
the property. High-grade oxide ores will be processed at During a one-week simulation of the peak production
period, truck and shovel mining equipment moved 3.1 Mt
Figure 1
(3.4 million st) of material composed of waste (94 percent)
Location map. going to a single broad crested waste dump, milling ore
(2.3 percent) going to a mill stockpile and leach ore (3.7
percent) going to a leach pad. Table 2 shows the mate-
rial schedule broken out by loading type equipment and
converted to truckloads using a conversion factor of 366
t (403 st) per truckload.

Mining equipment
The mining equipment availabilities and capacities
used in this study are for the equipment type shown in
Table 3. All of the proposed equipment is new except
for the P&H 2800 shovel, which is used and exists at the
Pipeline Mine site.

Equipment availabilities
Table 4 shows the mechanical availabilities planned
for the truck and shovel fleet. The simulation used sched-
uled and unscheduled down hours to stop equipment
from working. During simulation, trucks were brought
to the truck shop for scheduled maintenance. Each truck
received approximately 18.6 hours of service during the
simulation period. Unscheduled truck repairs, seldom a
hindrance to a mining operation, were handled by using
random numbers to select a time within the simulation
period to stop trucks for repairs. The amount of unsched-
uled truck repair hours was achieved by stopping 12
trucks for about an hour each.
Table 2 Electric shovels were
scheduled for 43 hours
Loading schedule. of maintenance during
the simulation period.
Truck Loads P&H 4100 P&H 4100 P&H 2800 O&K RH 400 Totals
Each electric shovel re-
Leach 0 0 0 312 312 ceived about 14.3 hours
Mill2 0 0 0 158 158 of maintenance sched-
uled at 26-hour intervals.
Waste 2,458 2,447 1,831 1,129 7,864 The hydraulic shovel was
Totals 2,458 2,447 1,831 1,598 8,334 scheduled for two service
events, each lasting nine

40 January 2007 Mining Engineering


Once dispatched, the truck traveled the designated
Table 3 time to the shovel. The truck was reassigned to a different
shovel if the assigned shovel went down unexpectedly.
Equipment requirements.
Once at the shovel, the truck either joined a queue or
Shovel models Type Status proceeded to a shovel for loading. Double-sided loading
P&H 4100 Electric New was used. The cycle was completed by the trucks traveled
the designated time to the destination for the type of
P&H 4100 Electric New material the truck is carrying.
P&H 2800 Electric On site The uncontrolled random variables in the simulation
were unscheduled maintenance events and the dispatch-
RH 400 Hydraulic New
ing of a truck to a shovel for a specific material. These
Truck model Mfgr. Capacity two elements caused the simulation to behave like a real
282 Liebherr 366 dry tons mining operation.
In the model, like an actual mine, trucks were not
hours. allowed to pass other trucks and maintained a minimum
Unlike trucks, unscheduled repairs for shovels cause separation distance of 61 m (200 ft). If trucks approached
inefficiency for the truck fleet by causing the trucks to be an intersection at about the same time, one truck started
dispatched to the remaining working shovels. Unsched- slowing 61 m (200 ft) before an intersection to avoid a
uled down time for shovels amounted to 2.3 hours during collision. There were seven intersections in the model.
the simulation period. On the average, each electric shovel
will break down for 46 minutes.
The time at which shovels will break down unexpect- Table 4
edly was determined by using random numbers to select
Equipment availabilities.
a time during the simulation period to break down. A
worst-case condition occurs when two large shovels are Electric Hydraulic Trucks
broken down at the same time. shovel shovel
Activity
Equipment cycles
Table 5 shows the load, spot and dumping times used Number of 3 1 21
in the simulation study. Topography favors hauling large equipment
tonnages of waste from shovels to destinations. Along the Days 7 7 7
haul paths, the topography changes 15 m (50 ft) over about Hours/day 21 21 21
1,219 m (4,000 ft) of roadway. Haul roads do not exceed
10 percent in grade. The maximum operating speed limits Scheduled 441 147 3,087
for all CJV trucks are shown in Table 6. Vulcan software hours
is used to measure each segment of roadway from shovels Util. of sched- 90% 87% 87%
to destinations to derive haul cycle times. uled hours
Working hours 397 128 2,686
Simulation modeling
A simulation model was constructed using general pur- Down hours 44 19 401
pose simulation systems language software commercially (441-397)
available from Wolverine Software. The model consists Unscheduled 3% 5% 3%
of loading units and destinations connected by haul paths. percent of up
Trucks were dispatched to shovels after dumping material hours
at destinations for specific material using an algorithm
Unscheduled 1.3 1.0 12.0
that weighs the number of trucks in each shovels queue
down hours
along with the number of trucks in transit to the shovel
and how far ahead or behind the shovels load count goal Scheduled 43 18 389
is for each type of material. down hours

Table 5
Spot, load and dump cycle times.
Shovels P&H 4100 P&H 4100 P&H 2800 O&K RH 400
Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes Minutes
Spot 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.50
Load 2.25 2.25 3.62 3.62
Dump 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
Passes to load* 4 4 6 6
Tons/bucket 91.50 91.50 61.00 61.00
*400 ton class bucket

Mining Engineering January 2007 41


The truck fleet took Table 6
the required time out
for lunches and shift Maximum speed limits for all truck fleets.
changes (three hours Up Down
per day). Blasting ramp L ramp E Flat L Flat E Bench L Bench E
and fueling activi- Truck speeds mph mph mph mph mph mph
ties were completed
during the lunch/ Class truck 830 E 8 20 27 27 15 15
shift change breaks. Class truck 930 E 8 20 27 27 15 15
Trucks arriving at a Class truck 282 B 8 20 27 27 15 15
shovel, which is un-
expectedly broken,
were to seek another percent or two, the same load count and the same amount
working shovel. of time for:
The simulation model was run for three repetitions of
seven days. Prior to each seven-day run, a two-day burn- Lunches and shift changes.
in period was run. At the end of the burn-in period, the Truck scheduled maintenance.
trucks and shovels held their current position or activity Truck unscheduled maintenance.
and all counters were set to zero before running the model Shovel scheduled maintenance.
to simulate seven days of mining. The actual computer run Shovel unscheduled maintenance.
time was less than five minutes. Spot, load and dump times (average is loads/hours).
Results The spot, load, dump and maintenance times shown in
Table 7 shows the results of the simulation compared Table 7 serve as a check on the accuracy of the simulation.
with the feasibility study data for the same week period. Loaded and empty cycle times were slightly more in the
The results show the simulation model achieved, within a simulation as is the load count.
The differences, due to dispatching, were not significant
Table 7 to change the conclusion that 21 trucks would be the mini-
mum number required to move the scheduled materials
Simulation results. to the destinations, within the working availabilities of
Activity Plan Sim the truck and shovel fleet and operational cycle and haul
cycle times.
Total loads dumped 8,334 8,464 The simulated model results showed 384 hours of
Queuing at shovel 384 the available times was spent in queues. The queue size
(hours) and time spent in a queue increased, as fewer shovels
Spot to shovel 0.50 0.50 were available to load trucks. The queue sizes reached a
(min/load) maximum when two large stripping shovels were down for
maintenance and repairs at the same time. This condition
Load at shovel 2.75 2.81 does not last for more than about 46 minutes, the average
(min/load) time an electric shovel is down due to an unscheduled
Spot at dump 0.50 0.50 maintenance event.
(min/load)
Dump at dump 1.0 1.0 Sensitivity runs
(min/load) Several simulation runs were performed to test the
sensitivity of the operating parameters. The sensitivities
Lunch/shift change 441.0 441.0 investigated were:
(min)
Truck scheduled 389.9 389.9 Increase unscheduled mechanical downtime by 5
maintenance (hours) percent, 10 percent and 30 percent.
Truck unscheduled 12.0 11.9 Change scheduled mechanical downtime by +5 per-
maintenance (hours) cent and -5 percent.
Increase cycle time by 5 percent and 10 percent.
Shovel sheduled 60.9 60.9 Increase load, spot and dump time by 10 percent and
maintenance (hours) 20 percent.
Shovel unscheduled 2.3 2.3 Determine the relationship between the number of
maintenance (hours) trucks and loads hauled.
Inefficient 456
allowance (hours) The results of the sensitivity analysis are shown in
Table 8. The results have been sorted from least sensitive
Hauling time 847.0 852.0 to most sensitive.
loaded (hours) The relationship between the number of trucks and
Hauling empty 685.0 704.9 tons hauled is shown in Fig. 2. A point of diminishing
(hours) returns occurred at about 30 trucks. However, starting at
about 23 trucks, the waiting in a queue starts to impact

42 January 2007 Mining Engineering


the benefit of additional trucks. Production will Table 8
not peak and go down as more trucks are added.
Results from sensitivity runs.
Instead, production will flatten out as more trucks
end up sitting in a queue. Trucks in the 400 t (440 Sensitivities Loads
st) class cost more than US$3 million. A cost-benefit Base case 8,464
analysis using simulation can be used to identify the
Five percent less mechanical downtime 8,514
incremental benefit and net present value contribu-
tion of adding additional trucks beyond the number Increase unscheduled downtime by 5 percent 8,458
used in this study. Increase unscheduled downtime by 10 percent 8,452
Increase unscheduled downtime by 30 percent 8,449
Animation
An animation movie was constructed to view Five percent more mechanical downtime 8,423
the activities occurring during simulation. Normal Increase haul return cycle time by 5 percent 8,230
operations were seen when four shovels were work-
Increase haul return cycle time by 10 percent 8,110
ing and, in another view, when one large shovel goes
down for maintenance. Increase SLD time by 10 percent 7,925
The most important view was seen when one Increase SLD time by 20 percent 7,524
large shovel was down for scheduled maintenance
Note: SLD is spot, load and dump time.
and the other large shovel went down unexpect-
edly. This view showed the formation of the largest
queues at the two remaining shovels.
Figure 2
Conclusion Increased tons as a function of trucks.
Simulation modeling validated the number
of truck and shovel equipment contemplated in
the Cortez Hills feasibility study. The truck and
shovel fleet were well matched as identified in
the simulation by the small frequency of trucks,
usually two, waiting in queues during normal
operations.
When half of the loading fleet was non-
operational, the queues at the two remaining
shovels reached a maximum of six trucks for
a brief period of time. The planned tonnages
were achieved within the simulation period.
Simulation and animation played a key role in
validating the load and haul fleet equipment
required for the study period. n

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Mining Engineering January 2007 43