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Underground Mine Design


SRK recommends a phased approach to the underground mine design, commencing with a Scoping Study to determine the key project parameters and an order of magnitude estimate of the potential economics. A more detailed investigation through a pre-feasibility study would develop the most suitable mining methods and design by considering reasonable alternatives to an accuracy of ±30%. A feasibility study would lead to an engineered development and operational design, with a clear understanding of the project production and economics to a ±15% accuracy. SRK typically uses Mine 2-4D integrated scheduling software but is conversant in all the major software packages for mine design.

SRK considers that it is important to maintain an inter-disciplinary approach because the impacts of geological structural controls and geotechnics are usually critical to the mine design, whilst the mining method, and ore controls are important to the treatment process.

The design work would be tackled by a group of in-house consultants managed by an experienced professional engineer. All of SRK’s design staff possess mining engineering degrees and have at least five years experience in underground mining operations. If required, specialist sub consultants can be brought in to provide input on specialist areas such as refrigeration, heating and backfill. Quality is maintained through regular in-house reviews by the project director.


The services that SRK can provide are as follows:

Reserve Estimation. SRK is fully conversant with all international reporting codes including JORC, CIM and Russian codes and can tailor the estimation process to the needs of the client and jurisdiction.

Production Capacity Analysis. SRK can provide detailed technical advice on what an orebody can potentially produce and also undertake option studies looking at different access and development scenarios.

Mining Method. SRK’s experienced industry specialists examine the issues related to orebody geometry, geotechnics, economics, selectivity, backfill, safety, available skills and culture in order to recommend the optimum mining method for any orebody.

Mine Design. SRK’s mine planning team can apply its experience to designing all aspects of mine architecture including stope layouts, access development, shafts/hoisting, haulages, x-cuts, inclined development, ground stress, stope and development support, infrastructure, ground handling, drill and blast, mining cycles, shift times, efficiencies, utilisations and estimating equipment requirements.

Mine Transport. Movement of ore and waste in a mine is a critical activity which requires careful consideration and planning. SRK can provide solutions to all transport issues specific to every operation.

Ventilation. Mines require a ventilation system that provides adequate airflow in a cost effective manner and also adhere to local regulations. SRK’s planning team can provide these solutions using its experienced engineering team.

Mine Services. As part of the design process SRK’s planners can plan and estimate the requirements and reticulation necessary for water, electricity and compressed air supply as well as the design of surface infrastructure, dewatering systems and maintenance procedures.

Manpower. Input to technical studies from SRK’s planning team typically consists of complements for development and operation, supervisory and managerial structures and requirements, labour and skills availability, selection, recruitment and training, salary levels, bonuses and conditions of employment.

Capital Costs and Operating Costs. Mine technical studies require estimates of capital and operating costs appropriate to that operation. SRK uses software tools developed in-house to generate operating costs from first principles benchmarked against other similar operations. Capital costs are normally based on quotations for equipment or built up from detailed development schedules.

Economic Modelling. Life-of-Mine plans generated by SRK for technical studies involve financial modelling to bring together capital costs, operating costs, production profiles, process recoveries, commodity prices, royalties, taxes and depreciation to generate the project NPV and IRR for subsequent analysis.


SRK has a proven track record of completing mine design studies. Recent projects include:

Sindesar Khurd Mine, India. SRK completed a feasibility level mine design for the expansion of this underground mine from 0.3Mtpa to 2Mtpa. The assignment included justification for a new decline, production shaft and process facility including a paste backfill plant.

Khetri Copper Complex, India. SRK carried out a detailed design for a replacement orepass system at the Khetri mine due to a failure with the existing facility. At the Kolihan Mine, SRK designed layouts for three new extraction horizons.

Bibiani Gold Mine, Ghana. SRK undertook a life of mine planning exercise on this mine which included design of new ramps and levels, stope design, infrastructure planning, ventilation, production scheduling and costing.

Aguas Teñidas, Spain. SRK undertook a detailed underground mine design as part of a Feasibility Study on this project. The project utilised paste backfill to maximise orebody recovery and reduce the tailings footprint on surface.

Voskhod Chrome Project, Kazakhstan. SRK completed a a detailed underground mine design as part bankable level Feasibility Study on this project. The Voskhod Mine was the first mine in Kazakhstan to be accessed solely through a decline with no production shaft planned. One of the challenges of this project was to provide heating for the mine in the winter with ambient temperatures of -30˚C.

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