Case Studies

Maintaining Safe Operations at Northparkes Block Cave Mine

CMOC’s Northparkes mine is Australia’s first block cave mine and one of Australia’s largest copper producers, providing 26,997 tonnes of copper in 2020.

In 2018 Northparkes commenced a ventilation upgrade to support planned mining expansions, supplement underground air volumes, and maintain occupation exposure to respirable dust and quartz silica at acceptable limits.

Shortly after completion, two intake and exhaust shafts, each 5 m in diameter and 560 m deep, experienced partial failure at the lower level. Efforts to stabilise the more badly affected intake shaft by lining it with shotcrete were unsuccessful, and self-mining continues to occur in the failed section. A ventilation incline linking the intact section of the exhaust shaft with the mine workings was subsequently developed as an alternative return airway.

The Northparkes geotechnical team needed to monitor the condition of both ventilation shafts to ensure they remained viable and to protect the integrity of the vent incline. However, access constraints meant the only way to inspect the failed sections was to send a scanner down the shafts.

Find out how Northparkes used Hovermap to identify potential points of failure early and are now better prepared to maintain the essential return air incline.