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KGHM, Poland

Large scale copper mining

adapted to lower seams
Copper mining began in the 13th
century in the Sudety Mountains.
However, intensive exploratory
works beginning at the middle of
the 20th century confirmed a cop-
per ore-bearing deposit 1,000 m
below surface with over 0.5% Cu
content. The first mines, called the
Old Basin, are now closed and re-
placed by mining of the New Basin,
known as Legnicko-Glogowski
Okreg Miedziowy, LGOM, situ-
ated in the south-west region of
Poland. It is based on three big
mines with various dates of con-
struction start: ZG Lubin (since
1960), ZG Rudna (since 1970) and
ZG Polkowice-Sieroszowice (since
1996). The latter mine results from One of four Scooptram ST1520LP loaders owned by KGHM in operation.
joining of the former single mines:
ZG Polkowice (since 1962) and ZG In the Lubin mine the average copper to accumulate high amounts of energy,
Sieroszowice (since 1974). All mi-
content is less than 2%, whereas in the which is the most important factor for
nes belong to a joint-stock com-
pany, KGHM Polska Miedz S.A., Polkowice-Sieroszowice mine, the mean rock burst. Even within a strong roof,
with head office in Lubin, and copper content slightly exceeds 2%. The in some places weak layers of shales
comprising ten divisions including average copper content for all KGHM essentially decrease the roof bearing
three dressing plants, two smelt- mines is around 1.86%. The ore horizon capacity. This is the main reason for
ers and one copper rolling mill.In
ranges from 1.2 m to 20 m in thickness, extensive rock reinforcement, compris-
the ten years between 1991 and
2001, when commercialization of lying at depths of between 600 m and ing standard mechanical and resin
the former state owned company 1,200 m from surface. Known ore re- grouted 1.6 m and 2.6 m bolts, and 5-7 m
was undertaken, the company serves are above 800 Mt, which corre- cable bolting, mainly at drift crossings.
workforce reduced from 45,000 to sponds to a mine life of another 30 years
about 18,500. About 11,500 emplo-
at today’s production rate of 28 Mt Ore access and transport
yees are engaged in the mining
operations. annually, split between Lubin 7Mt,
Polkowice-Sieroszowice 10Mt, and The deposit is developed with 26 ver-
Rudna 11Mt. tical shafts, 6 m to 7.5 m-diameter,
Geology and resources Lead, silver and gold are also recov- and horizontal drifts. Depths of shafts
ered. In 2001 KGHM was ranked as the vary from 632 m in Lubin to 1,120 m
The Legnica-Glogow copper basin ex- world’s seventh largest copper supplier in Rudna. The overburden freezing
tends over an area of 416 sq km. The stra- at 491,000 t, and the second largest method was applied for shaft sinking.
tiform mineralization occurs where Per- source of silver, at 1,145 t. Access to the deposit from the shafts
mian limestone lies against New Red KGHM is also a major salt producer, and preparatory workings is by drift
Sandstone, within varying combinations using roadheaders to mine a deposit that networks located directly under the
of sandstone, shale and dolomite. The partly overlays the orebody. strong dolomite roof and upon the sand-
deposit is of irregular shape, with slight stone, along the dip of the ore zone.
dip up to about 6 degrees. The copper Geotechnical conditions Mucking is based on a large fleet of
content varies generally between 1.2% LHDs ranging from 1.5 to over 8 cu m
and 2.0%. Higher copper contents are The formations are intersected by a bucket capacity. Belt conveyors are used
characteristic for the thinnest seams, multitude of faults. An especially dan- for main haulage. Equipment used in
usually in mineralized shales. gerous feature of the rock is its ability the shafts varies, and depends on the

underground mining methods 121

KGHM, Poland



~ ~7 m ~7 m 7~m 7~m ~ ~

5m 5m
~ ~

A A ~ ~ ~

14 m

4m 10 m

5m 10 m

A-A B 7m
B ~ 4~m 10~m 7~m 7~m ~ ~
~ ~
14 m
~ ~ ~




75˚ 75˚
14 m

4m 10 m
60˚ 60˚


~ ~ ~ ~
~7 m 7~m 14~m ~

9,5 m

10 M

~ ~ ~~

14 m 14 m 14 m

System for mining thick deposits.

purpose of the shaft. The most modern the exploitation of roof caving, two each of the pillars, beginning from the
shaft in Rudna mine is Koepe hoist eq- stages of excavating pillars were used. In abandoned line, was cut into many
uipped with two twin-skip hoisting the first stage, the area was divided into smaller pillars. From the viewpoint of
installations. Each of the skips has 300 25 m x 35 m pillars. In the second stage, rockburst risk, the two-stage method is
kN capacity and 20 m/s transportation
velocity. The depth of the loading level General mining layout for 3 m thickness at Polkowice-Sieroszowice Mine.
is 1,022 m. Each skip is powered by a
four-line hoisting machine with 5.5 m-
Backfill module
diameter transmission using 3,600 kW 7m 7m
motors. 7m

Room and pillar Timber post

The predominant method is room and

pillar mining adapted to seam thickness
and geotechnical conditions.

Deposits up to 5 m-thick
After shaft sinking and recognition of
the water threat, the initial mining me- ~21 m² area
thod utilized backfilling technology.
Following this, longwall methods using
walking hydraulic supports, armoured
face conveyors and belt conveyors were
introduced. Very soon, after experien-
cing low efficiency, it was decided to
use room and pillar methods with bolt-
ing techniques, and LHDs that could
assure mass production and better out-
put concentration. With time, and pro- Dry backfill
duction experience, room and pillar
methods with roof caving have become 3m
more effective and safer, since they en-
abled full mechanization to be intro- Room Pillar
Thickness of
duced. The caving methods were more mineralized
competitive, due to low costs compared zone
to backfilling techniques. Initially, for

122 underground mining methods

KGHM, Poland

tricky, because the pillars in the first

stage show a dangerous tendency for
accumulation of energy. After 1983, the
engineers in Rudna mine decided to
adapt the dimension of the pillars to 6
local geomechanical conditions. Also,
alternating directions of driving stopes
were introduced. 1-6˚

Deposits 5 to 7 m-thick
Until recently, the deposits over 5 m-
thick used to be mined entirely with
backfilling. The newest technology to
7 m-thick is based on the hypothesis of
advance-fracturing and post-failure
capacity of pillars. The roof opening
reaches 150 m, and the longest edges of
the pillars are located perpendicular to
the exploitation front line.
Within caved areas, the upper layers
of roof are not fully supported with bro-
1 5 3 2 4
ken rock. Such a situation creates real
threat of rock bursts, roof falls, or lo- 1. Back fill 2. Upper layer,extraction 3. Lower layer extraction
cal relief of strata. This results in ore 4. Ramp to lower layer 5. Water collector 6. Back fill piping
dilution, as well as a requirement for
secondary scaling and bolting. There-
fore, the practice of blasting residual Two-stage extraction with backfilling.
large-size barrier pillars has been aban-
doned. in the ore-bearing layer until the pillar strengthened. The mine currently oper-
cross-section reaches approximately ates ten Atlas Copco rigs, and there is
Deposits below 3 m-thick 21 sq m. The completion of the pillar a total of 16 Boomers on the mines as
In the Polkowice-Sieroszowice mine, mining process before abandoning the a whole.
most of the seams are less than 3 m thick, area is subject to roof sag, with the strata The supplier service has been ex-
and a special selective mining method resting upon dry backfilled entries. tended to include a drillmetre-based
has been developed for excavation of The future aim is to use extra low contract for Secoroc Magnum 35 drill
these thin deposits. profile mechanized equipment for drill- rods and shank adapters and for COP
The mining area is typically opened ing, bolting, mucking, scaling, charging rock drills.
using double or triple entries of prepara- and auxiliary transport. This will enable Working an effective 4.5 h/shift, one
tory workings. Rooms, entries and pil- mining in drift heights down to 2 m and Boomer drills 110-125 holes with hole
lars are basically 7 m-wide. Work in the 1.5 m, to selectively extract the ore and lengths varying from 3 m at the face
faces consists of two phases, depend- minimize the amount of waste rock and 1.5-2 m at side walls and roofs.
ing upon the thickness of the layers of mined. Some of the Boomers feature the BSH
waste rock and mineralized ore. First, Alternative mining sequences, where 110 rod extension system to facilitate
the upper ore-bearing layer is excavated the ore-bearing layer is situated at the drilling of 6 m stress-relieving holes.
and hauled out to special chutes onto floor, are shown in the figure. In the first 8 months of 2002, one
the main transportation system. In the In the past, most equipment and con- Boomer drilled more than 58,000 holes
second phase, the waste rock adjacent sumables were manufactured in nearby totalling 174,000 drill metres, with
to the floor is excavated and placed in factories belonging to the state-owned availability of 92.6 %. Downtime com-
other rooms as dry fill. Each of the en- company. Lately, the quantities and prised technical malfunctions 3.7%,
tries covers at least two rows of pillars types of imported equipment have grad- planned service 3.4%, and others 0.3%.
plus one room. ually increased. In 1998, Polkowice-
The backfill width is 14 m, and ma- Sieroszowice Mining Department Room and pillar mining with roof sag
ximum length of the mining front is started to cooperate with Atlas Copco This method is especially suitable in
about 49 m. No more than three rows in the development of modern machin- barrier pillars of drifts, heavily faulted
of pillars at the same time, not cove- ery. Due to the successful introduction zones, and in direct vicinity of aban-
red with backfill, are allowable in the of COP 1238 and COP 1838 hydraulic doned areas. Maximum allowable de-
mining area. During extraction in the rock drills, followed by the low-built posit dip is up to 8 degrees, and seam
last row of pillars, working occurs only Boomer rigs, the cooperation has been thickness 3.5-7 m. The area is developed

underground mining methods 123

KGHM, Poland

from a large variety of adaptations to

Pillar in yielding phase prevailing geological and geotechnical
conditions, in order to continuously in-
crease productivity and safety, while
minimizing waste rock into the ore
stream. The following measures are put
into focus for the future: further devel-
opment of the rock mass monitoring
200-600 m

stream; changes in work organization
Pillar size 7 - 8 x 8 -38 m and introduction of a four-team system;
developing new systems for rockburst-
proof bolts; introduction of low built
equipment for thin ore deposits, lower
than 1.5 to 2 m; modernization of mi-
ning methods by further minimizing
waste dilution; and projects for access
to deeper ore zones, below 1,200 m, by
A -B Residual pillars cake mining, with cake thickness of 0.8
to 1.5 m, using 15 m-long blast holes.
All mines are facing thinner seams,
and this constitutes a major challenge
for equipment manufacturers. The prob-
lem is especially acute at Polkowice-
Sieroszowice, where machinery height
Room and pillar mining with roof sag. since 2003 on all types of equipment
cannot exceed 1.4 m, to enable efficient
with double gate roads, located close Blasting techniques operations in 1.6 m-high workings. To
to the roof of the ore-bearing layer for this end, a special low-built version of
thickness above 4.5 m. Optimum length In the past, the mines tried to use dyna- the latest Atlas Copco Rocket Boomer
of the mining front ranges from 50 m mite, which is a water-resistant explosive S1LP has been delivered for testing and
to 600 m. The ore is extracted with 7 m- of high density and energy concentra- evaluation.
wide and 7 m-high rooms. The roof is tion. Due to the sensitivity to detonation,
supported by pillars of 7-10 m x 2.5- and lack of possibility for mechanical Acknowledgements
4.5 m. Thereafter, the smaller pillars charging, dynamite is today almost
are successively decreased. The roof completely superseded by pneumati- Atlas Copco is grateful to KGHM ma-
that has been opened must be bolted cally charged ANFO. Initiation is by nagement for their inputs to this article,
immediately. electric delay detonators, coupled with and in particular to the authors of its
The next stage is mining of the floor detonating cord in holes longer than 6 m. book on the technical evolution of the
down to the ore zone boundary. The Recently, electric detonators have been Polish copper mining industry:
extracted area is closed off for people successively replaced by Nonel. Bulk Jan Butra, Jerzy Kicki, Michal Narcyz
and equipment, using timber posts or and emulsion explosives are used in Kunysz, Kazimierz Mrozek, Eugeniusz
chocks. Length of the roof sag blast room and pillar mining areas described J Sobczyk, Jacek Jarosz, and Piotr Sa-
holes is 8-12 m. in the hydraulic backfill method above. luga. Reference is also made to Under-
ground Mining Methods – Engineering
Room and pillar mining Future plans Fundamentals and International Case
–two stage mining Studies by William A Hustrulid and
The two stage mining system using hy- The alternative room and pillar mining Richard L Bullock, published by SME,
draulic backfill known as Rudna 1 has methods described are some examples details at
been used mainly in the Rudna mine.
In the first stage, the orebody is cut into
Atlas Copco drill rigs and loaders delivered to KGHM
large pillars, which are subdivided in the
second stage. Type Units

Finally, the abandoned area is filled Boomer S1 L 5

up to the roof with hydraulic fill. The Rocket Boomer S1 L 26
drawback of this system is high stress Rocket Boomer 281 SL 4
concentration occurring in the large Scooptram ST1520 6
size pillars just in front of the second
stage mining.
Scooptram ST1520LP 4

124 underground mining methods