The evolution of cut-and-fill mining techniques at the Inco Limited Levack Area mines

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 825, 1981

P.M. MAY, Mine Engineer, Levack Mine Inco Limited

Cut-and-fill mining is a sloping method that has been widely utilized in the mining industry over the past forty years. It took preference over shrinkage methods at Levack in the early 1930s because of its safety aspects; i.e., prompt support of the slope sidewalls, good working floors and better accessibility to support poor back areas. In addition, higher recoveries of ore were possible because of the flexibility of the method in that silling could take place easily at any horizon; low-grade ore could be sorted and left in the slope as fill and certain zones of rock could be left unmined. With modern techniques, a steady production rate can be established, as filling and mining can be carried out simultaneously.Although there are numerous variations of cut-and-fill mining throughout the world, this paper reviews the original type of mining, with modifications and improvements through the years to present modem practices, with the Levack West operation appearing to be the most productive at this time. Sloping efficiencies have also increased substantially from the original 10 tons per manshift to the present 55 tons per manshift.The paper also outlines the many improvements that have been made with respect to mucking and ground support opera-lions; from hand mucking in a single slope to the use of front-end loaders and haulage trucks in fully accessible slope complexes; and from timber props to roof bolts of various types.Although present methods are extremely satisfactory, experimentation is continually being conducted to improve safety and productivity for future mining.
Keywords: Underground mining, Cut-and-fill mining, Inco Limited, Levack Mine, Sloping, Drilling, Mechanized mining.