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Underground mining is the extraction of minerals below the surface in a way that allows an optimum return on investment.
The methods employed are based on detailed drilling and sampling to define the distribution, grade, and extent of the ore. To perfore the surface to an underground mine may be through an adit, a shaft, or a decline.
Underground mining is needed when the mineralization occurs below the surface and is confined to veins, fault zones or beds.
In Latin America, one of the major underground mining sites is Codelco´s El Teniente, located in the Chilean commune of Machalí in Cachapoal Province, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region. It stands 2,300 m (7,500 ft) above mean sea level in the Andes.
Underground mining at El Teniente started as early as 1819. Codelco is now working on a US$3.1bn project that will involve developing and mining a new mine level at El Teniente, with the aim of maintaining processing levels (131,000t/d) and ensure continued operations at the mine until 2064.
The project will require 2,400 workers during the construction phase. The new level for underground mining aims to exploit an area of ore 300m below the current mine area, extending the productive life of the deposit for at least 50 years. The first blast on the access tunnels comes after two years of civil works on a US$68mn interconnectivity platform at the mine and a bridge over the Coya river to prepare for tunnel construction.
These are the latest BNamericas´ analysis, news, projects and companies linked to underground mining.