Economics and Long Term Planning for Shaft Projects in Mexico/South America


Michael Arriagada, E.D.C. Mining Ltd.; Ivan Arriagada, E.D.C. Mining Ltd.

As ever more mines are turning to shafts in order to economically exploit deeper reserves, there are two key means by which mine owners are attempting to minimize short term costs - refurbishing old, existing shafts, and sinking shafts in phases. With refurbishing existing shafts, whether attempting to utilize a decommissioned shaft or a current production shaft, the idea is the same - by taking advantage of what is there, both cost and time will be saved. However, when all of the problems of refurbishing become known, compared to the benefits of beginning a new shaft, savings rapidly disappear, especially when looking at long term benefits and, in the case of current production shafts, eliminating downtime. Similarly, sinking shafts in phases is seen as a means to get to production quicker with lower up-front costs. However, by failing to properly set-up and plan for subsequent phases, short term savings can lead to large additional costs down the road, increased downtime, and time to production of the succeeding phases, while also introducing unnecessary risks. By using the lessons learned from working on various shafts in Mexico and around the globe, this paper aims to provide mining companies with the opportunity to avoid the potential pitfalls of short term gains which lead to long term loses. About E.D.C. Mining Ltd: In business since 2010, EDC has completely designed 10 shafts (3 existing production shafts and 3 ventilation shafts, with 2 projects currently being deepened and 2 more ready to begin) with design work on 3 more shafts in the early stages (1 production and 2 ventilation), all located in Mexico and working with both Mexican and Canadian companies.
Keywords: Shaft, Deepening, Refurbishing, Phases, Downtime, Savings, Planning