Probabilistic Stope Design

Project Leader: Dr Kyle Woodward

For an underground mine, the creation of value from mining open stopes is extremely sensitive to the quality of stope design and execution, particularly with regards to the performance of individual stope extraction in terms of dilution and ore recovery. For example, a stope with high dilution (high overbreak) or low recovery (high underbreak) will likely produce negative value for a mine, whilst maximum value will be obtained from stopes with minimum overbreak and minimum underbreak. The emphasis of this ACG research project is the optimum design of open stopes. This innovative and timely research project commenced in late 2017. The project team is Kyle Woodward, Yves Potvin and Johan Wesseloo.


Research Objective

The focus of this research is to develop and implement at five sponsor sites a method and associated tools to enable a probabilistic approach to stope design and reconciliation. The idea is to enable better stope design decisions and, therefore, to facilitate stope optimisation by informing designers on the probability of overbreak and underbreak outcomes from different design scenarios.

Click here to read the full details as published in the ACG December 2017 Newsletter.


Capes, GW 2009, Open Stope Hanging Wall Design Based on General and Detailed Data Collection in Rock Masses Unfavourable Hanging Wall Conditions, PhD thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan.

Clark, LM & Pakalnis, RC 1997, ‘An empirical design approach for estimating unplanned dilution from open stope hanging walls and footwalls’,  Proceedings of the CIM 99th Annual General Meeting, Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, Westmount, published on CD-ROM.

Mathews, KE, Hoek, DC, Wyllie, DC & Stewart, SBV 1980, Prediction of Stable Excavation Spans for Mining at Depths Below 1000 Metres in Hard Rock, report to Canada Centre for Mining and Energy Technology (CANMET), Department of Energy and Resources, DSS File No. 17SQ.23440-0-90210, Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology, Ottawa.

Miller, F, Potvin, Y & Jacob, D 1992 ‘Laser measurement of open stope dilution’, CIM Bulletin, July-August 1992.

Potvin, Y 1988, Empirical Open Stope Design in Canada, PhD thesis, Department of Mining and Mineral Processing, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Potvin, Y, Grant, D & Mungur, G 2015, ‘Towards a practical stope reconciliation process in large scale bulk underground stoping operations, Olympic Dam, South Australia’, CIM Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 102-110.

Potvin, Y, Grant, D, Mungur, G, Wesseloo, J & Kim, Y 2016, ‘Practical stope reconciliation in large scale operations part 2, Olympic Dam, South Australia’, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference and Exhibition on Mass Mining, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Melbourne.