Synergies and potentials of near-to-face processing – An integrated study on the effects on mining processes and primary resource efficiency


Implementing underground processing affects a series of process steps like production, processing, backfilling and infrastructure and thus needs a proper integration into the whole underground mining process. This leads to the necessity of new holistic process models for the different underground mining methods and systems. Sound resource-to- product integration concepts hold large potentials for economic, social and environmental benefits in comparison to common underground mining systems and methods. Underground processing in combination with backfill and the reduction of pillar volume leads to higher extraction rates out of a given deposit, thus leading to a higher primary resource efficiency.

Within the European FP7 project I²Mine (Innovative Technologies and Concepts for the Intelligent Deep Mine of the Future), research activities for resource-to-product integration concepts are carried out by the Institute of Mining Engineering I, the Unit of Mineral Processing of RWTH Aachen University and TOMRA Sorting Solutions. In the following concepts and approaches to achieve the vision of deep underground processing and near- to-face waste rejection will be presented.

A presentation on this paper was made at the 6th International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Minerals Industry, June 2013, Greece.