Empirical Ground Support Recommendations and Weak Rock Mass Classification for Underground Gold Mines in Nevada, USA
AuthorWarren, Sean Nicholas
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Ground conditions at underground gold mines in Nevada range from good to extremely poor and implementing the most appropriate ground support can be challenging. Existing empirical ground support design methods were developed predominantly from experience in tunneling or more competent ground, making them less applicable to underground gold mining in Nevada. This research presents empirically derived support guidelines from experience at 5 underground gold mines in Nevada, including: discussions with engineers and miners, review of ground control management plans and consulting documents, and roughly 400 ground control case-studies. Support design recommendations are based on the Weak-Rock Mass Rating (W-RMR) which is a modified Rock Mass Rating (RMR) classification incorporating the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) for very weak rock masses. Ground support recommendations include rock bolt pattern support pressure, rock bolt length category, excavation surface support, and excavation strategy.