Panel Caving method, its characteristics and challenges with automating a production level

Mikko Sakari Koivunen

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis (University Course)


Panel caving, one version of block caving, is the preferred underground mass mining method for Codelco, a chilean state owned copper company, and the number one copper producer in the world. Codelco operates the biggest underground copper mine in the world with a daily production of approximately 140 000 tonnes of ore. All this ore is produced using the panel caving method. The same method is also used in Codelco´s other underground operations in Andina and Salvador mines. Codelco has shown great interest in new technologies and especially in automating production levels with LHDs for several reasons such as improved working conditions and potential for higher fleet utilization. There are several world class projects coming up with Codelco, El Teniente new mine level that is to replace the current mine production and Chuquicamata underground project that will produce approximately the same amount as El Teniente, also Andina has significant expansion plans for their underground mine. Panel caving and automation of the production levels is a likely option for these projects and is being evaluated currently. As background information this project will present panel caving method and its special charasteristics and present the automation system with its benefits and limitations. A lot of emphasis is put to the risks inherent to block/panel caving method and the solutions automation offers to control them. The objective is to understand how panel caving and automation works together with the current mine design and automation technology and what should be taken into consideration in future projects to improve the competitiviness of automated production.
Translated title of the contributionPanel Caving method, its characteristics and challenges with automating a production level
Original languageEnglish
  • Moser, Peter, Supervisor (internal)
Award date21 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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