Optimal location of an underground connector using discounted Steiner tree theory
Keywords:network optimization, mine planning, underground mining, Steiner trees, net present value
The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the gradient-constrained discounted Steiner point algorithm (GCDSPA) described in an earlier paper by the authors is applicable to a class of real mine planning problems, by using the algorithm to design a part of the underground access in the Rubicon gold mine near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. The algorithm is used to design a decline connecting two ore bodies so as to maximize the net present value (NPV) associated with the connector. The connector is to break out from the access infrastructure of one ore body and extend to the other ore body. There is a junction on the connector where it splits in two near the second ore body. The GCDSPA is used to obtain the optimal location of the junction and the corresponding NPV. The result demonstrates that the GCDSPA can be used to solve certain problems in mine planning for which currently available methods cannot provide optimal solutions.