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Estimation of support requirement for large diameter ventilation shaft at Chuquicamata underground mine in Chile

E. Hormazabal, C. Soto, A. Russo and C. Carranza-Torres
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
First presented: 
Proceedings of the 12th International Congress of Rock Mechanics. October 18-21, 2011. Beijing, China.
Published paper
Rock Mechanics

The Chuquicamata Underground Mine project in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the largest planned mining projects in the world to use the method of block caving with macro-blocks option to mine copper ore.

VP-CODELCO (Vice-President Projects Office of the National Copper Corporation of Chile) is currently developing a feasibility engineering evaluation of excavated infrastructure for the project. The evaluation considers, among others, the construction of two ventilation shafts of internal diameter 11 meters and approximate depth of 970 meters. A geo-mechanical study has been carried out to evaluate the stability of one of these shafts and to provide recommendations about support requirement. As part of this study, empirical methods, confinement-convergence analytical models, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional continuum models have been developed and applied to evaluate the influence of the stresses and existing geological features, such as the presence of two major shear zones and different lithological units, on the mechanical response of the excavation. This paper introduces general aspects of the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project and discusses in particular geo-mechanical analyses carried out to evaluate stability and support requirement for the large diameter ventilation shaft.

Feature Author

Esteban Hormazabal
Esteban is a Civil Mining Engineer and holds a Master of Science (Geophysics) specialized in applied hydrogeology. He has 24 years of specific experience in geotechnical engineering, rock mechanics and geotechnical instrumentation, having worked in different mining and civil engineering projects. 
Additionally, he is an expert in analysis and geomechanical design of underground mining and surface excavations using 2D and 3D numerical modelling, stability analysis and slope design in open pits and waste dumps. 
He has led different and important open pit and underground mining projects in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Uruguay and USA. 
Esteban has authored several publications and has been speaker at different national and international conferences. He is a Competent Person of AusIMM and the Commission for the Qualification of Competencies in Mineral Resources & Reserves of Chile (QP). He has been professor of  the Rock Mechanics Chair at the Universidad Católica de Chile from 2013-2018.


Head of Rock Mechanics Services
Min Eng, MSc (Geophysics), FAusIMM, SAIMM, CRIRSCO
SRK Santiago
SRK North America