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Tunnelling and

Underground Space
incorporating Trenchless
Technology Research
Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8

Disturbance of mining operations to a deep underground workshop

Charlie C. Li
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Geology and Mineral Resources Engineering, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway

Received 6 December 2004; received in revised form 4 April 2005; accepted 5 April 2005
Available online 8 June 2005


An underground workshop was located at a depth of 880 m in a metal mine, Sweden. A few years after its excavation, the work-
shop was subjected to a certain extent of damage. A number of fractures appeared on the walls of the workshop. Shotcrete separated
from the rock surface and even fell down to the floor. The mine worried about what happened and wondered how the mining oper-
ations underneath would affect the workshop. A further question was if the workshop should be closed and a new one should be
excavated. Those questions therefore concerned not only with the matter of safety but also of economy. An investigation of the
instability in the workshop was conducted in 2000. It was carried out through geological surveys, in situ deformation measurements
and also numerical modelling. The study revealed that the problem of instability in the workshop was associated with the mining
operations at the level of the workshop even though the mine stopes were over 90-m away from the workshop. It was also assessed
that the mining operations underneath would not disturb the workshop and thus the workshop could continue its service as usual.
The mining operations underneath was finished in 2003. The results of a follow-up programme confirmed the assessments made in
the study. Measurements of rock deformation showed that the workshop was stable during the whole period of mining underneath.
Two lessons are learned from this case: (1) permanent underground infrastructures should not be placed in geological contact zones
even if they are not necessarily weak zones; (2) the horizontal extent of the disturbance zone around an opening at depth can be very
large. For the case in question, the horizontal stretch of the disturbance zone around the mine stope was approximately in the same
order as the height of the stope.
 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Disturbance zone; Rock failure; Underground infrastructure; Mining operation; In-situ measurement

1. Introduction bility was conducted in 2000, attempting to clarify what

had caused the damage to the workshop and also to fig-
An underground workshop was located at a depth of ure out if the mining operations underneath would neg-
about 880 m in the Kristineberg mine, Sweden. It was atively affect the workshop. The study was carried out
excavated in 1992. In 1998, fractures started to appear through geological investigations, in situ displacement
on the shotcrete walls of the workshop. The shotcrete measurements and also numerical modelling.
even fell down in some places. Brick walls built in the When an underground opening is excavated, rocks
workshop were damaged. The mine wondered whether might be subjected to failure in shear or extension in a
the planned mining operations underneath would fur- zone around the opening due to changes in stresses. This
ther deteriorate the stability of the workshop and is called disturbance zone in this paper. The size of the
whether it should be closed and a new one should be disturbance zone is not only dependent upon stresses,
excavated. The questions therefore were concerned with but also upon the strength of rock and discontinuities.
both safety and economy. An investigation of the insta- What one would like to essentially figure out in the case
of the workshop was how large the disturbance zone
would be around the mine stopes at the level of the
E-mail address: charlie.c.li@geo.ntnu.no. workshop. So far a number of studies have been done

0886-7798/$ - see front matter  2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2 C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8

mainly on disturbance of excavation around under- The workshop had a dimension of 12 · 9 m (width ·
ground openings of relatively small size like tunnels height). Fig. 2 shows a horizontal projection of the work-
(Push and Stanfors, 1992; Shen and Barton, 1997; Mar- shop. It was reinforced with bolts and a layer of 6-cm thick
tin et al., 1997; Sato et al., 2000). Studies on disturbance steel-fibre reinforced shotcrete. The bolts were cement-
of an excavation to other underground openings nearby grouted rebars with a diameter of 20 mm and a length
are even less reported. The current case concerns distur- of 3.1 m. They were installed with a pattern of 1 · 1 m.
bance of mine stopes, the total height and length of
which are in order of hundred metres, to a workshop 2.2. Instability problems
that was far from the stope position. What happened
in the workshop provides a good opportunity to esti- The workshop had been stable since it was excavated.
mate the size of the disturbance zone around the large- In 1998, however, fractures started to appear on the sur-
scale mine opening at depth. face of the shotcrete on the southern wall of the workshop.
In this paper, level is used as a synonymous term to Fractures appeared all over the wall in year 2000. Most of
depth with the origin at the ground surface. Stope refers the fractures were vertical and some were open up to one
to a defined portion in the ore body where the ore is centimetre. In some places the shotcrete separated from
mined out. the rock or fell down to the floor. A door frame built in
the workshop at position P1 in Fig. 2 was seriously dis-
torted so that the door could not be closed. Portal B
2. The workshop was also seriously deformed. A floor-to-roof inclined
fracture was formed in the brick wall of the portal. The
2.1. Location and layout brick joints dislocated a few centimetres along the fracture
plane, indicating that the floor of the workshop was heav-
The workshop was located in the foot wall of the ing. Another indication of floor heave in that place was
mine stopes at level 880 m. It had a horizontal distance that the concrete floor was cracked and lifted.
of about 90 m to the nearest stope. Both the mined out The wall of the ramp drift at position P2 outside the
stopes and the stopes to be mined in the near field of the workshop was fractured along foliation planes. The rock
workshop are sketched in Fig. 1 in a vertical plane per- type at that position was chlorite-rich sericitic quartzite.
pendicular to the strike of the ore body. The stopes
above the level 880 m were already mined out at the time 2.3. Local geology
when the investigation began. Mine stope 1306 was from
level 1000 to 1050 m and stope 1404 from 1050 to Geological mapping showed that there were no faults
1100 m. The whole stope 1306 and the lower part of and other weak zones in the area of the workshop. The
stope 1404 were already mined out. Next step was to rock types were mainly granite porphyry and sericite–
mine the upper part of stope 1404B and probably also chloritic quartzite plus a bit volcanic greenstone,
a new stope C above stope 1306. All the mined out Fig. 3. One joint/foliation set was dominant in the rock
stopes were back-filled with tailing sands or/and waste

Fig. 2. Horizontal layout of the underground workshop. A, B and C

Fig. 1. Position of the workshop with respect to the nearby mine mark the positions of the three measurement profiles. EA1, EA2, etc.,
stopes in a vertical profile perpendicular to the strike of the ore body. are the extensometers.
C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8 3

5 Datum (dd.mm.yy)

Accumulated convergens (mm)

01.11.97 27.10.98 22.10.99 16.10.00 11.10.01 06.10.02
Profile A


Profile B


Profile C


Fig. 4. Convergence measurements in the three profiles. The solid lines

stand for measurements before May 2000, while the dashed line shows
the follow-up measurements in profile C after 2000. A negative value
refers to contraction of the walls, i.e. the walls moves towards each
Fig. 3. The rock types in the area of the workshop. other.

in profiles A and B had one anchor at the farthest end

mass, which was approximately parallel with the tabular of a 2.5-m long steel rod. The measurements in profiles
ore body. Joint spacing varied from centimetres in chlor- A and B until May 2000 were as follows:
itic rock to metres in competent rock. Portal A was to-
tally in the porphyry, while portal B overrode the Profile Extensometer Deformation until
contact zone between the sericite–chloritic quartzite May 2000
and the greenstone. The southern part of the workshop
A AE1 5 mm
was located in the contact zone by all the three rocks.
AE2 0
The northern part was in the competent porphyry. The
strongest one among the three rock types was the gran- B BE1 8 mm
ite porphyry with a uniaxial compressive strength of BE2 0
rc = 159 MPa (Nyström and Board, 1991). The seri-
cite–chloritic quartzite was much weaker than the por-
The extensometers in profile C were 3-m long
phyry with rc = 68 MPa. The weakest was the
with four anchors that were equally spaced along the
greenstone with rc = 60 MPa.
length of extensometer. The four anchors were at 3 m
(anchor 1), 2.25 m (anchor 2), 1.5 m (anchor 3) and
3. In situ measurement 0.75 m (anchor 4) from the wall surface. Extensometer
CE1 was in the southern wall, Fig. 2. The measurements
Convergence and extensometer measurements were on this extensometer are shown in Fig. 5. Note that
carried out in three profiles, A, B and C, since Novem- the displacements shown in the figure are relative to
ber 1997, Fig. 2. Profile A was located just outside portal anchor 1. It is seen that anchors 3 and 4 moved almost to-
A, profile B outside portal B, and profile C in the middle gether in the whole period of measurement, indicating no
way of the workshop. fracturing between the two anchors. These two anchors
moved slowly in the beginning but shifted to an acceler-
3.1. Convergence measurement ating phase after September 1998. The accumulated dis-
placement increased from about 1.5 to 10 mm in a
Fig. 4 shows the measurements of the wall conver- period of about one year. After November 1999, the
gence in the three profiles. The convergence of the walls movements of the anchors slowed down. Anchor 2 had
was only a few millimetres until September 1998. Then, a very small displacement relative to anchor 1. The max-
it started to accelerate at all the three positions, particu- imum extension displacement, up to about 10 mm, oc-
larly in profiles B and C. The convergence in profile C curred between anchors 3 and 2. This large amount of
reached an amount of over 16 mm in May 2000. displacement within such a short length (0.75 m) implied
that an open fracture might have been formed in the rock
3.2. Extensometer measurement in the depth from 1.5 m (anchor 3) to 2.25 m (anchor 2).
Extensometer CE2 was sitting in the northern wall of
Extensometers were installed in horizontal boreholes the workshop. The readings on all the four anchors of
at the middle height of the walls. The positions of the the extensometer were zero, implying that the northern
extensometers are marked in Fig. 2. The extensometers wall was stable.
4 C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8

Datum (dd.mm.yy)
01.11.97 22.10.99 11.10.01 01.10.03
Anchor 1

Anchor 2
Deformation (mm)



Anchors 3 & 4
-15 CE1
4 …. 1


Fig. 5. Measurements on extensometer CE1 in the southern wall in

profile C. The solid lines stand for measurements before May 2000,
while the dashed lines show the follow-up measurements after 2000.
The displacements in the diagram are relative to anchor 1, that is, the
displacement at anchor 1 is set to zero in the diagram. A negative value
refers to a movement toward the opening.

3.3. Observation of the fractures

Fig. 6. Length-projection of the mined out stopes in the near field of
the workshop. The workshop was located about 90-m behind the
The personnel working in the workshop made some stopes.
marks at the tips of a few large fractures on the wall with
colour pens. The marks showed that the propagation of
the fractures became slow down in 1999 and completely 5.1. The model
ceased in the end of the year. Monitoring of a few open
fractures on the wall showed that the fractures did not The mine stopes in question was about 400-m long
open any more after year 2000. and the workshop was over 40-m long with several ac-
cess drifts around. The behaviour of the rock mass in
a vertical plane stretching from the middle of the work-
4. Previous mining operations in the vicinity of the shop and to the mine stopes could be well representative
workshop for the rock mass in between. Thus, a two-dimensional
FLAC model was built in such a plane. The model plane
Fig. 6 is a sketch of the mined out stopes in the near coincided with the measurement profile C located in the
field of the workshop in a projection along the length of middle of the workshop. The size of the model was
the ore body. The mining activity was intensive from 900 · 1000 m. The size of elements in the near field of
1995 to 1999 in the area of the workshop. Stope 1120 the workshop was 0.5 m and it gradually became larger
was the nearest stope to the workshop. It was mined outward from the workshop. A close-up view of the
out before excavation of the workshop in 1992. The sill model is similar to that shown in Fig. 1. The model con-
pillars above stope 1120, however, were mined out dur- sisted of four excavation stages in time sequence (Fig. 1):
ing 1998–1999.
 Stage 1: Excavation of stope A1 and the workshop.
Stope A1 was 50-m high and was located between
5. Numerical modelling level 830 and 880 m. This stage simulated the mining
operations before excavation of the workshop.
Computer program FLAC was used to examine the  Stage 2: Excavation of stope A2 that was 50-m high
influence of the mining operations underneath to the above stope A1. It simulated the mining activity con-
workshop. FLAC is a two-dimensional finite differen- ducted between 1995 and 1999 in the area of the
tial element code for continuum materials. The simula- workshop.
tion was conducted through an excavation sequence  Stage 3: Excavation of stope 1306 and the lower 25 m
similar to the reality. All the mined out stopes in the of stope 1404. It simulated the current mined out
mine were back filled with waste rock and non-cemen- stopes under the workshop.
ted mill tailing sands. The fill materials could bear lit-  Stage 4: Excavation of a new stope C above stope
tle load so that the mined out stopes were left open in 1306 and the upper 25 m (B) of stope 1404, which
the model. simulated the planned operations.
C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8 5

Two types of materials were defined in the model r1 ¼ rzz ¼ 7.6  0.054Z;
according to the geological mapping shown in Fig. 3. r2 ¼ rxx ¼ 6.7  0.031Z;
It was porphyry in the right side of the model and seri-
r3 ¼ ryy ¼ qgZ;
citic quartzite in the left side. The contact boundary of
the materials was located at the right side, i.e. the south- where r1, r2 and r3 represent the major, moderate and
ern wall, of the workshop at an inclination of 70. minor stresses, respectively, in the rock mass. Z stands
for depth in metre. The unit of the stresses in the above
5.2. Input data equations is MPa. r1 is horizontal and parallel with the
strike of the ore body. r2 is also horizontal, but perpen-
dicular to the strike. Field observations and back-calcu-
Nyström and Board (1991) carried out a study on the
lations have proved that the above expressions describe
parameters of the rock mass in the Kristineberg mine.
the state of the in situ stresses in the mine area quite well.
According to their recommendations, the following val-
ues were employed for the material parameters in the Therefore, they were used as input data of the in situ
model: stresses in the model. The terms rxx, ryy and rzz in the
above expressions stand for the stresses applied to the
 Density: 2700 kg/m3. FLAC model. rxx was applied horizontally and ryy ver-
 E-modulus of the rock mass: 15 GPa. tically, while rzz was in the out-of-plane of the model.
 PoissonÕs ratio of the rock mass: 0.25.
 Friction angle: 30 for the sericitic quartzite and 35 5.4. Results of modelling
for the porphyry.
 Cohesion: 5 MPa for the sericitic quartzite and Shear failure had been observed the dominant failure
10 MPa for the porphyry. mode in the walls of the mine stopes because of rich
 Tensile strength: zero for both rocks. chlorite in the rock. Thus, the Mohr–Coulomb failure
criterion was used in the model. Fig. 7 shows the
yield zones around the openings at three excavation
5.3. In situ stresses stages. Yield zone, or called disturbance zone, here refers
to a zone where the rock undergoes failure in shear. When
According to Leijon (1991), the in situ stresses in the workshop was excavated, the yield zone around the
Kristineberg are governed by the following equations: workshop was very small and was not connected with

Fig. 7. Yield zones in the rock around the mined out stopes. The exterior circles of the stopes provide references for comparing the size of the yield
zone with the height of the stopes.
6 C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8

the yield zone around stope A1, Fig. 7(a). However, when 6. Discussion
the 50-m high stope A2 was mined out, which corre-
sponded to the mining operations conducted between 6.1. Change in stresses around the workshop
1995 and 1999, the yield zone around stope A1 + A2 ex-
tended to the workshop. In other words, the rock mass Before the mining operation 1995–1999, the major
between the workshop and stope A1 + A2 failed in shear. principal stress r1 was more or less symmetrically dis-
The yield zone surrounding the mined stopes 1306 and tributed in the rock around the workshop except for
1404 was quite limited because of the existence of a a bit stress concentration at the upper right and lower
25-m sill pillar in-between, Fig. 7(b). The yield zone be- left corners, Fig. 8(a). The mining operation 1995–1999
came significantly larger when the sill pillar and also a led to a big change in the magnitude of the stresses
new stope above stope 1306 were mined out. The spread- around the workshop, Fig. 8(b). It resulted in an in-
ing of the yield zone, however, was mainly limited in the crease in r1 in the rock in the upper right and lower
horizontal direction, Fig. 7(c). The workshop was far left corners of the workshop, while a decrease in the
from the yield zone of the underneath stopes and, there- upper left and lower right corners. The change in the
fore, were not affected by the mining operations stresses could solely result in damages to the workshop,
underneath. particularly in the case that a geological contact zone
If an exterior circle is drawn around a mined out was located at the southern wall of the workshop. In
opening, one can see in Fig. 7 that the yield zone is accordance to previous extensometer measurements
a little bit larger than the circle. In all the excavation and filed observations in the mine, however, fractures
stages, the size of the yield zone is approximately 1.2 induced by mining operations could spread out far
times the diameter of the exterior circle around the away from a mine stope. It was very possible therefore
opening. that the whole rock party between the workshop and
The modelling showed that the excavation of the mine stopes was failed in shear after the mining
A2 significantly changed the magnitude of the major operation 1995–1999.
principal stress r1 in the area between the workshop
and the mining stopes. Fig. 8 shows the distribution 6.2. Yield zone
of the major principal stress as well as the variation
of the yield zone in the country rock surrounding The yield zone (or disturbance zone) around the
the workshop. workshop was quite limited when the construction of

Scale: 10 m N
Yield zone

20 40 MPa

40 MPa 30
50 50

Southern 40 Southern
20 20
wall wall 30

30 40 20
40 50 50 30


(a) Before mining operations 1995-1999 (stope A2). (b) After mining operations 1995-1999.

Fig. 8. Contours of the major principal stress r1 in the near field of the workshop before and after the mining operations 1995–1999 (stope A2 in the
model). The crosses show the directions of the principal stresses. The longer bar of the cross represents the orientation of r1, while the shorter one is
the orientation of r3. The mine stopes are located to the right of the workshop.
C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8 7

the workshop was finished. The mining operations con- neath, which confirmed the assessment made on the sta-
ducted at the level of the workshop between 1995 and bility of the workshop (Li, 2000).
1999 dramatically changed the state of stresses in the Quartzite is normally brittle and prone to rock burst,
rock mass. The result was that the yield zone around but the mine did not detect any seismicity in the near
the mined out stopes at the level of the workshop ex- filed of the ore body. That might be attributed to the
tended outward and reached the workshop finally. This richness of chlorite in the rock mass.
led to a rapid increase in rock deformation in the work-
shop from the end of 1998. It was noticed that the dra-
matic increase in rock deformation was only restrained
in the southern wall where the geological contact zone 7. Conclusions
lay. Thus, the geological contact zone must play some
role in leading to the instability.  The instability in the workshop was partly associated
The yield zone around the mine stopes beneath the with the geological contact zone at the southern wall.
workshop would not extend upward and reach the The size of the disturbance zone around the mine
workshop as long as the mining activity was limited be- stopes was underestimated when the workshop was
low level 960 m. The yield zone would be mainly ex- designed.
tended outward in the horizontal direction after the  The mining operations at the level of the workshop,
planned mining operations. conducted between 1998 and 1999, might lead to a
At a depth of 1000 m where the in situ horizontal significantly large yield zone around the stopes, which
stress in the cross section of the stopes was about finally reached the workshop. That occurred in the
38 MPa, the horizontal stretch of the yield zone could end of 1998 when all the measurements in the work-
be approximately in the same order as the height of shop showed a rapid increase in rock deformation.
the mined out stopes. Note that the uniaxial compressive  The yield zone around the underneath mine stopes
strength of the rock mass in question was estimated would not reach the workshop as long as the mining
about 17 MPa according to the data collected by was restrained below level 960 m. Thus, both the
Nyström and Board (1991). planned mining operations in stope 1404 and above
stope 1306 would not affect the stability of the work-
shop. This conclusion has been confirmed by the
6.3. Stability assessment monitoring after 2000.
 At a depth of about 1000 m, the horizontal stretch of
Based on the extensometer measurements, there ex- the yield zone around a mine-out stope could be
isted fracture zones in the southern wall of the work- approximately in the same order as the height of
shop. The largest fracture might be located in a depth the stope.
of about 2 m from the wall surface. The fractures and
the dramatic change in rock deformation were caused
by the mining operations at the level of the workshop
between 1998 and 1999, even though the mine stopes Acknowledgements
were over 90-m away from the workshop. With consid-
eration of the geological contact zone at the southern The author acknowledges the measurement work by
wall and also what happened on the wall, it was inferred Mr. Kjell Jakobsson in the Kristineberg mine and thank
that a fracture zone might had been formed along the Mr. Per-Ivar Marklund, Boliden Mineral AB, Sweden,
southern wall, Fig. 3. Even so, the current and the for constructive discussions during the period of
planned mining operations underneath would not affect investigation.
the stability of the workshop.
The rock deformation in the workshop was moni-
tored by convergence and extensometer measurements
during the whole process of mining underneath. All References
the underneath mining operations were finished in
Leijon, B., 1991. Rock stress measurements in the Kristineberg mine.
2003. The upper 25-m ore in stope 1404 was totally Report No. 7, G2000 (in Swedish).
mined out, while the mining operation above stope Li, C., 2000. Stability analysis of the underground workshop in the
1306 was ceased after only about 10-m mining upward Kristineberg mine. Report B10/00, Technology and Development,
due to the low ore grade. The monitoring results are Boliden Mineral AB, p. 41.
Martin, C.D., Read, R.S., Martino, J.B., 1997. Observations of brittle
shown by dashed lines in Figs. 4 and 5. Both the conver-
failure around a circular test tunnel. Int. J. Rock. Mech. Min. Sci.
gence and the extensometers did not capture any signif- 34 (7), 1065–1073.
icant deformation during this period. The workshop was Nyström, A., Board, M., 1991. Parameter values of the rocks in the
indeed not affected by the mining operations under- Kristineberg mine. Report No. 6, G2000 (in Swedish).
8 C.C. Li / Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 21 (2006) 1–8

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