Engineering techniques to optimize an Arctic mine

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 89, No. 1005, 1996

Alan E. Renshaw, Usibelli Coal Mine Inc., Healy, Alaska

This paper is a practical overview of ways to reduce cost in the design and operation of an Arctic mine. The economically important issues of the Arctic mine that will be addressed include: permafrost and the active zone in general terms; road building in and over permafrost; Arctic geotechnical mine design considerations; pit dewatering techniques in subzero temperatures; and blasting frozen materials with techniques to obtain optimal results. A final section on a few special topics conclude this paper. Although this paper primarily refers to near surface conditions more closely associated to an Arctic surface mine, many of the ideas and techniques contained in the paper also apply to the surface construction of an Arctic underground mine.