Mining Publication: Application of Physical Modelling and Particle Flow Analysis to Evaluate Ore-pass Design
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) accident statistics have identified ore-pass hazards as a significant safety problem in U.S. underground metal mines. The statistics show that nearly 75% of injuries are directly or indirectly related to pulling or freeing of ore-pass chutes, the use of hand tools in ore passes, falls of broken rock in ore passes and structural failures of chutes or gates and ore-pass walls. Researchers at the Spokane Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are investigating hazards in and around ore passes in hard rock mines. Risk assessment methods, such as fault-tree analysis, have been employed to identify the most probable causes of ore-pass failures, define research priorities and analyze the factors that result in malfunctioning and unsafe ore passes. Static and dynamic loads are being measured in a laboratory setting with the use of a reduced-scale ore-pass mock-up. Field tests are being initiated in mine ore passes to determine static and dynamic loads. Data from the test ore passes are being compared with data from the mine to characterize true system behavior. Computer modelling with the use of closed-form solutions, finite-element analyses and a newly developed particle flow code predicts static and dynamic loads from the flow and the impact or ore and waste in the ore pass. Preliminary results indicate that dynamic impacts from ore and waste rock might be considerably greater than expected. The total static load is substantially less than is typically used for the structural design of chute and gate support members. It is suggested that damping factors, normal and shear stiffness and mass frictional characteristics have a significant effect on particle flow and resulting impact loads. This is being verified with the use of results from laboratory tests, field tests and particle flow analyses.