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Preconditioning by hydraulic fracturing

for block caving in a moderately


stressed naturally fractured orebody
Andre van As, AVA Mine Geotechnical Services, Australia
Rob Jeffrey, CSIRO Petroleum, Australia
Enrique Chacónn, Victor Barrera, El Salvador Division, Codelco Chile

Abstract
Preconditioning by hydraulic fracturing is a tool with the potential to modify the caveability and fragmentation of an
orebody prior to and during mining. A field-scale experiment was carried out in the Lift 2 orebody at Northparkes E26
mine near Parkes, NSW to measure hydraulic fracture growth and assess the affect of the fracturing on rock mass
strength and in-situ stress.
The 9700 level exploration drill drive located near the top of the Lift 2 orebody provided an ideal site for the experiment.
Eight fan arrays of NQ-size exploration drill holes had already been drilled laterally and down into the ore from this level.
These holes provided excellent access for placing fracture-monitoring instrumentation across the hydraulic fracture
growth path. Site characterisation work included, geology, rock properties, overcore and micro-frac stress
measurements, and seismic velocity profiling. In addition, a microseismic monitoring array was extended to the site by
adding to the existing mine microseismic array. Cross-hole seismic measurements were conducted before, during and
after the hydraulic fracturing period. In addition, the fracture geometry and hydraulic fracture volume were also remotely
monitored using eighteen sensitive tiltmeters. Stress change associated with the fracturing was recorded using three
ANZI cells located 15 to 40 m above the hydraulic fracture plane.
When combined with previous data from mining and mapping a hydraulic fracture placed into the country rock ahead
of development tunnels, the experiment provided a comprehensive data set to define and understand hydraulic fracture
growth in naturally fractured rock. The effect of hydraulic fractures on rock mass caveability and resulting fragment size
during caving is being assessed using this data.
This paper summarises the measurements made and important results obtained that will assist in future design and
implementation of hydraulic fracturing as a preconditioning tool for cave mining.

1 INTRODUCTION International Caving Study (ICS II), and formed a major


component of the ICSII research. The experiments were
In the past the use of cave mining has been limited to specifically designed to measure hydraulic fracture growth
massive ore bodies characterised as having a fairly uniform in competent and well jointed rock masses and examine
grade distribution, large aerial extent (i.e. foot print) and their influence on the rock mass.
relatively weak rock mass strength (such as kimberlites). In This paper describes the Northparkes Mines site
recent years several low-grade, massive ore bodies have experiments, provides an overview of the findings and
been discovered at depth, which due to low metal prices, discusses the implications for cave preconditioning.
can only be exploited profitable through the adoption of the
block cave mining method. Unlike the typical caving ore 2 WHAT IS HYDRAULIC FRACTURING?
bodies of the past, many of these new deposits comprise
highly competent rock masses and their geometrical Hydraulic fracturing involves isolating a section of a
dimensions (i.e. foot print and block height) are often borehole, often by means of a straddled packer system.
dictated by their economic viability. Hence, the rejuvenated Once sealed, fluid is pumped into this straddled area
interest in cave mining of more competent ore bodies has causing the fluid pressure to rise, generating tensile hoop
forced the industry to reassess the suitability of current stresses along the axis of the borehole which eventually
caveability predictive tools for stronger rock masses whilst exceed the tensile strength of the rock, causing a fracture to
simultaneously investigating the prospect of rock mass form. The orientation of the fracture plane is defined by the
preconditioning and its potential to enhance the caving orientation of the minimum principal stress whilst the
characteristics of these deposits. propagation of the fracture into the rockmass will continue
The successful hydraulic fracture cave inducement as long as the pumping rate exceeds the rate of fluid loss
program conducted at Northparkes Mines has lead to a into the rock and as long as the pressure in the fracture
considerable interest in the technique with respect to its exceeds the far-field minimum stress magnitude..
application to cave mining. van As and Jeffrey (2000) have
demonstrated the technique to be an extremely cost 3 PRECONDITIONING EXPERIMENTAL SITE
effective means of cave inducement and state that it also
has the potential to be applied to cave preconditioning, Two site experiments were conducted at Northparkes Mines,
ultimately reducing the risks associated with caving hard the first involving mapping a hydraulic fracture by mining it and
rock orebodies. the second, the main preconditioning experiment, involved a
Recent site experiments were conducted at both multiple fracture treatment within a well instrumented region of
Northparkes and Salvador Mines, partially supported by the the proposed E26, Lift 2 block cave.

Massmin 2004 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 535


The Mine-Through experiment involved placing two indicate a horizontal major principal stress of approximately
hydraulic fractures well ahead of an advancing tunnel. The 40 MPa whilst the minor principal stress is subvertical with
fracture fluids contained fluorescein and plastic proppants a magnitude of around 10 MPa. It should be stated however
which enabled the fractures to be visually traced and that these measurements are slightly different to those
inspected upon mine through. The objective of mine- measured elsewhere in the mine and this is thought to be
through experiment was to map the hydraulic fractures, attributed to the presence of the diorite sill.
recording their orientation, residual width and interaction
with the natural jointing. More detail on this experiment can 5 MONITORING AND INSTRUMENTATION
be found in the paper by van As and Jeffrey (2002).
The main preconditioning experiment involved creating Hydraulic fractures were propagated from a central
several hydraulic fractures at various intervals within a injection hole out into the rock mass, intersecting the
region of the proposed E26, Lift 2 block cave. The site adjacent monitoring holes as the fracture grew. The arrival
location was selected primarily due to its abundance of time and pressure provided by the intersections measured
diamond drill holes which would allow for a dense array of the fracture growth rate, pressure and orientation, including
monitoring instrumentation to be installed in and around the their variation over time. The effectiveness of different
hydraulic fractures. A single HQ hole, drilled between these fracture fluids and proppants in inducing changes to the
existing monitoring holes, was used as the ‘injection’ hole rock mass was also investigated.
along which all of the hydraulic fractures were placed. The experiment site was located on the 9700mRL level,
which is 250m above the Northparkes E26 Lift 2 extraction
level. The 9700mRL level was previously used as an
exploration drilling level and hence contains numerous NQ
diamond drill holes, drilled from eight cuddies spaced at
25m centres along a north-south oriented drill drive (refer to
Figure 2). Each cuddy contains a fan of holes drilled with
varying dips yet with roughly the same bearing. The
injection hole used to place the hydraulic fractures was
located centrally such that all of the surrounding holes could
be effectively used to monitor the hydraulic fractures. The
instrumentation was grouped into near-field and far-field
monitoring systems with most of the near-field
instrumentation installed in the drill holes nearest to the
injection hole. The far-field instrumentation included the
seismic monitoring system, the downhole seismic system
and an array of tiltmeters located throughout the mine.
The positioning of these instruments is illustrated in
Figure 3, and is summarised as follows:
• The injection hole was an HQ hole drilled from cuddy 5
with a dip of 560 towards 1180 east.
• ANZI stress cells were installed in a hole directly above
the injection hole with the cells located between 15 – 25m
from the nearest fracture to 40 – 48m from the furthest
fracture.
• Piezometers and extensometers were installed in 4 holes,
one hole immediately below the injection hole in cuddy 5,

Figure 1: Location of the preconditioning experiment site


with respect to the Northparkes block caves.

4 GEOLOGY AND GEOTECHNICAL

The Lift 2 orebody generally comprises four main rock


types. Central to the orebody is a quartz monzonite
porphyry body around 70 metres wide, to the east is a biotite
quartz monzonite which is a massive equ-granular unit that
comprises the greater proportion of the rock mass within the
Lift 2 block. To the west of the monzonites is a volcanic
sequence, dominantly porphyritic lavas, through which a
coarsely crystalline, diorite sill has intruded. The diorite sill
measures up to 80 metres thick, dips into the orebody at
approximately 35 to 45 degrees and is the main unit in
which the preconditioning experiment was conducted.
In general the rock mass is well jointed and rock type is
the dominant control on variations in rock mass properties.
The rock mass has been classified using Laubscher’s
MRMR system, Laubscher, (2000), with the Rock Mass
Rating (RMR) ranging from a minimum of 41 in the volcanics
to a maximum of 64 in the biotite quartz monzonite. The in Figure 2: Plan of the 9700 mRL level, showing the site
situ stress measurements conducted at the experiment site layout and drill holes.

536 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 Massmin 2004


two in the steepest holes in cuddy 4 and one in the Table 1: Summary of hydraulic fracture
steepest hole in cuddy 6. preconditioning treatments at Northparkes.
• Packer systems, each containing down-hole pressure
transducers, were lowered down four holes. Single Fracture Straddle top Fluid Vol.
packers were installed 30m from the collar in one hole at (metres) (m3)
cuddy 6, one in cuddy 4 and one in cuddy 3. A straddle
packer system with a 25m long straddle was installed in 1 79.76 water 11.6
D284 in cuddy 6 with the top of the straddle located
initially at 81.5m. 2 79.76 water 6.4
• A geophone used as a receiver for the down-hole seismic 3 99.36 water 7.9
measurements (during the fracturing process) was
lowered down the steepest hole in cuddy 3. 4 93.76 water 10.6
• All of the remaining drill holes were used simply as open 5 96.56 water 9.3
holes. Any intersection of the hydraulic fractures with
6 110.56 water 10.3
these holes resulted in water flowing from the hole collars
and provided useful information on both the geometry of 7 79.76 xlinked gel 10.8
the fracture and its propagation rate. 13 96.56 gel/water 12.5
• The mine microseismic monitoring system consisted of 16
tri-axial accelerometers and five uni-axial geophones.
Sampling rates for all accelerometers was set at 6 KHz so tiltmeter monitoring and from the stress change cells.
as to ensure the detection of extremely small events. Analysis of the tiltmeter data also provides information
• Finally, an array of 19 tiltmeters were installed, 13 were about the fracture volume while the stress change
located on the 9700 mRL level, 5 were located on the monitoring provides information about the stress change
9800mRL level and one was located in a conveyor drive induced by each fracture and the type of fracture growth
on the 9770mRL level. (opening or shear).

6.1 Fracture Pressure Analysis


Analysis of the treating pressure response can be used to
determine the general mode of fracture growth, the amount
of fluid lost from the fracture during the treatment via leakoff,
the pipe friction and fracture entry loss, and the minimum
principal stress magnitude. For example, fracture 13 (Figure
xx) has been analysed in detail. Figure xx contains a G-
function plot of the falloff data from which the pressure
associated with closure of the natural fractures and of the
hydraulic fracture have been determined. Closure of the
natural fractures causes a decrease in the fluid loss rate.
The closure of the hydraulic fracture is a measure of the
minimum principal stress in this part of the rock mass. A
value of 19.2 MPa for the closure stress is indicated.

Figure 3: Isometric view of the 9700 mRL level depicting the


instrumentation layout

6 MONTORING RESULTS

The hydraulic fractures were placed using a straddle


packer tool that exposes 0.5m of the open hole to fracture
pressure. A down hole pressure transducer is located at the Figure 4: Summary of fracture 13 showing bottom-hole
top of the top packer in this tool and measures the fluid pressure, injection rate, and pressure in monitor hole D284.
pressure as it enters a 20mm diameter mandrel tube that
carries it into the straddle section. A small pressure drop,
therefore, occurs between the transducer and the open hole The pressure declined throughout the treatment which is
section. an indication of continued fracture growth with an
Table 1 provides a summary of the 8 fracture treatments approximate radial geometry. The sharp increase in
carried out during the preconditioning experiment. Fractures pressure a D284 corresponds with arrival of the hydraulic
9 through 12 are not listed since injection was limited to a fracture at this monitor hole and provides a direct measure
few litres per minute and a higher rate treatment was not of the fracture growth rate. The pressure in D284 after the
carried out for these injections. fracture arrival gives a measure of the pressure in the
Intersections were recorded for most treatments with hydraulic fracture at this location away from the injection
several piezometer, extensometer, and packer monitoring point. However, loss of fluid from the hole into other
points. The fracture orientation was obtained from the fractures acts as a pressure regulating mechanism which

Massmin 2004 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 537


means the recorded pressure is only a lower bound on the
pressure in the fracture itself.

Figure 6: History match of fracture treatment 1.

fracture is predicted by the model to grow to a radius of


about 30m and a maximum width at the injection hole of 2.2
mm. Figure xx shows the model-predicted shape of the
fracture, with the center of the fracture moving east of the
Figure 5: Pressure falloff after shut-in of fracture 13. injection point

The efficiency of a fracture treatment is defined as the


ratio at any time of the injected volume to the volume stored
in the fracture itself. Based on analysis of the falloff data, the
fracture efficiency at shut-in for fracture 13 can be estimated
as (Nolte, 1989)

Gc
η = , (1)
2 + Gc

where Gc is the value of the G-function at fracture


closure. Using this relationship, an efficiency of 52 percent
is found.

The fracture closure pressure implies a minimum principal


stress of 19.2 MPa which is about 7 MPa higher than the
minimum stress measured by overcoring at the 9700 level
tunnel. Fracture 13 is 84m vertically lower than the elevation
of the overcore test, which is expected to result in an
increase in the sub-vertical minimum stress by about 2.2
MPa. Furthermore, the fracture site is located inside the
diorite dyke which may be acting as a stress concentrator
because of its higher elastic modulus.
In contrast to these effects, there is a decreasing Figure 7: Plan view of fracture 1 showing biased growth to
minimum stress trend across the 80 to 110m interval the east.
fractured. The ISIP (Instantaneous Shut-In Pressure) values
recorded after each fracture show a gradient in the minimum
principal stress exists at this site. The ISIP values are upper 6.2 Tiltmeter Monitoring of Fractures
limits for the minimum stress but will reflect the change in An array of 19 tiltmeters was deployed to monitor the
minimum stress with position. The ISIP measured gradient hydraulic fractures formed in the rock mass. Each tiltmeter
in stress is minus 0.06 MPa per meter into the hole. Such a measures the horizontal gradient of the vertical
strong gradient is expected to significantly affect the displacement at its location. Tiltmeter monitoring of
hydraulic fracture growth, causing the fractures to grow hydraulic fractures is a commercial service in the petroleum
more in the direction of lower stress. Hence, the fractures industry and Pinnacle Technologies provided the tiltmeters
created are expected to have grown along their strike at the site.
direction and more to the east than to the west. The As a hydraulic fracture grows and opens, it induces
existence of the measured stress gradient is consistent with displacements in the surrounding rock. A tiltmeter located
a stress shadow caused by the overlying Lift 1 abutments remote from the fracture will measure the tilt associated with
and mined area (see Figure 1). these displacements. Analysis of such tilt data is an inverse
Fracture 1 at the site has been history matched using a modelling problem. The goal of the inverse modelling is to
pseudo 3D hydraulic fracture model. Figure 6 contains a plot find a fracture with opening and orientation that produces
comparing the modelled and measured data for this tilts at all measurement points that are the best fit to the
treatment. measured data.
Measured pressure and fracture size are shown on this The instruments at Northparkes were located more than
plot with a reasonable match obtained. A minimum stress of three fracture radii from the hydraulic fracture which means
20 MPa and a rock modulus of 77 GPa were used in the only fracture volume and orientation can be determined (not
model, perhaps reflecting the stiffer diorite dyke. The fracture length, width, and height) (Lecampion et al., 2004).

538 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 Massmin 2004


Table 2: Tiltmeter analysis results. The best fit line, using a power law model, is given by:
L = 8.15t 0.46 (2)
Frac Depth Dip Strike Efficiency
(metres) (deg) (deg) % where L is the fracture half-size (radius for a circular
fracture) and t is pumping time in minutes. Hydraulic fracture
1 80 18 E 57 29 growth for ideal geometry models follows a power law
behaviour which is motivated using a power law fit to the
2 80 16 W 136 30 measured data. Equation 2 can be used to determine a
3 99.6 26 E 27 56 pumping time that will produce fractures of a desired size at
Northparkes. This empirical approach can be improved by
4 94 23 E 32 47 fitting individual fracture treatments. A numerical model with
5 96.7 23 E 32 51 parameters that fit the average growth curve can be used to
vary the injection rate and volume as part of a
6 110.7 11 E 80 49
preconditioning design exercise.
7 80 11 E 71 30 Extensometers measurements recorded 0.15 to 0.2 mm
13 96.7 17 E 59 34 of opening during treatments with water and 1 to 1.9 mm of
opening for the crosslinked gel treatment. Measured
maximum pressure response at monitor holes was 19 to
Results from analysis of the tilt data are given in Table 2. 20.4 MPa, which is about equal to the estimated minimum
The Pinnacle and CSIRO analysis of the data gave stress at each depth. It appears likely that other fractures in
essentially similar orientation results and CSIRO results are each monitor hole opened at about this pressure and acted
shown. as pressure regulators. These pressure measurements then
The fractures were found to be subhorizontal and dipping serve to confirm the minimum stress value determined from
to the east in all cases except for fracture 2 which was falloff data and provide a lower limit for the pressure in the
interpreted to dip to the west. However, fracture 1 and 7, at fracture.
the same depth as 2 were both found to dip to the east. The
azimuth strike of the subhorizontal hydraulic fractures is less 6.4 Stress Change Monitoring
well defined by the tilt data than is the dip. A strike to the NE Stress change was measured during each treatment
is consistent with the overcore stress data for the site and using three ANZI stress change cells (Mills, 1997) installed
with local failures in tunnels observed nearby the site. The in a BQ-size borehole drilled just to the north and above the
fracture volume determined from the tilt analysis allows the injection hole. Each cell contains 18 strain gauges on an
fracture treatment efficiency to be calculated. The efficiency inflatable packer that is cemented to the borehole using a
listed in Table xx is the volume of the fracture at the end of special epoxy. More detail of the use of these cells can be
pumping divided by the total fluid volume injected. The found in Mills et al. (2004) in these proceedings.
numerical fracture model history match provides an The stress changes displayed consistent responses to the
estimate of fracture treatment 1 efficiency of 26 percent, start and end of injection for each fracture treatment. The
which compares well with the 29 percent calculated from the magnitude of the maximum stress change observed varied
tiltmeter analysis. from 0.5 to 1.4MPa for distances of 15-40m from the
Tiltmeter monitoring of the fractures provides a reliable fracture plane during the treatments using water. The
method to remotely determine the fracture orientation and maximum stress changes measured for the cross-linked gel
can be used to provide rapid feedback during treatment varied from 2.3 to 3.3MPa at 15-25m from the
preconditioning operations. Fracture growth rate and size fracture plane.
must still be determined by direct measurement at Water treatments resulted in a residual stress change,
monitoring boreholes combined with fracture modelling. measured several hours after the treatment, of about
0.5MPa (0.2-0.6MPa). The cross linked gel treatments
6.3 Fracture Monitoring by Borehole Instruments. resulted in a residual stress change of about 1.5MPa (1.0-
Packers were used to monitor pressure in four holes and 2.1). These residual stresses are expected to have
grouted-in extensometers and piezometers were used in decreased further with time but logging system signal drift
four other holes at Northparkes. These instruments provided did not allow for longer term monitoring.
data on fracture growth rate, pressure and opening. The maximum stress change vector can be used to help
Figure 8 contains a summary of the fracture growth data determine the orientation of the hydraulic fracture. East
obtained from the direct intersection data. dipping subhorizontal hydraulic fractures were consistent with
the orientation of these stress change vectors provided the
hydraulic fractures grew more to the east than west. This
fracture growth mode is supported by the ISIP measurements
and stress gradient discussed in section 6.3 above. The
numerical modelling of fracture 1 took account of this
measured stress gradient, with the result that the fracture
grew more in the east direction as shown in Figure 7.

6.5 Micro Seismics


The flurry of seismic activity associated with hydraulic
fracturing was unexpectedly high and in some cases the
intensity of the activity lead to communication bottlenecks
in the acquisition system resulting in a loss of data. In
addition the system rejection rate (i.e. the number of
associated waveforms defined as noise) proved
significantly higher during the injection period, where a
large number of associated waveforms appeared to
contain more than one event, making processing
Figure 8: Measured fracture growth at site. ambiguous and consequently leading to the rejection of

Massmin 2004 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 539


the events. Nevertheless a large number of events were have demonstrated strong correlations between rock mass
recorded and processed leading to the following findings, characteristics and seismic P-wave velocities (VP) and have
De Beer and White (2003): subsequently derived equations which can be used to verify
• Seismic activity tended to lag breakdown. and validate both individual rock mass parameters and their
• The spatial distribution of seismic events do not seem to cumulative affects.
‘cloud’ along a discrete fracture zone but exhibit a large Barton (1991) established a correlation between Q and
degree of scatter, thus suggesting that the fracturing VP, for hard rock below 500m depth where:
results in stress redistributions and inelastic deformations
over a large volume (hundreds of metres from the Vp = 5.0 + 0.5logQc (3)
source). This finding alone holds considerable
implications for preconditioning and particularly the Other relationships established between VP and rock
benefits of hydraulic fracturing as a preferred technique, mass parameters include those with RQD and fracture
but may in part arise because of multiple events close to frequency, e.g. Sjogren, et al. (1979), Palmstrom (1996),
the fracture being rejected by the system. and Tanimoto and Ikeda (1983). In general, VP decreases
• There was a continuation of elevated seismic activity for with increasing fracture frequency, decreasing RQD,
approximately 10 days after the hydraulic fracturing. increasing porosity, decreasing density and increasing fluid
• The calculated Apparent Volume (measure of inelastic content.
deformation of the rock mass) increased substantially Results from the hydraulic fracturing preconditioning
during fracturing and continued to do so for up to a week experiment at Northparkes Mines revealed a decrease in
after fracturing. This high deformation rate has since the post fracturing VP of around 15%. This equates to a
proved similar to that experienced during the Lift 2, block increase in the fracture frequency of between 5-8
cave undercutting process. fractures/m, a drop in RQD of around 25-30 and a reduction
• The calculated Apparent Stress (measure of stress in Q from around 3.8 to 1.2. A similar change could be
change in the rock mass) revealed large stress changes demonstrated using the MRMR system where speculated
induced to the rock mass although small when compared changes to the various indices reduced the IRMR from
to those associated with undercutting. around 58 to 46. It must be emphasised however that these
induced changes are dependant on the character of the
6.6 Down-hole Seismics initial rock mass to begin with, i.e. a highly fractured, weak
Down-hole seismic measurements of the treated rock rock mass is less likely to be influenced by preconditioning
mass were conducted before, during and after hydraulic than sparsely fractured, homogenous hard rock. Boadu
fracturing. (1997) suggested that once a rock mass has fractured such
Measurements taken during fracturing revealed that the that the VP has decreased by approximately 25% of its
travel-time increased, over a distance of 91 metres, by 2.0 intact rock value, it becomes insensitive to further increases
ms (ie 6.7 %), De Beer and White (2003). Thus the concept in fracture density. Thus with respect to preconditioning this
of a ‘fracture zone’ where the fracture fluid penetrates, finding implies that there is a critical fracture frequency
opens, shears and propagates surrounding fractures and\or joint condition value below which preconditioning is
stemming off the primary conduit fracture/s seems to ineffective. However, in terms of improving the caving
provide a more plausible explanation than a discrete characteristics of a rock mass one may argue that a rock
fracture. However in contrast to this observation, the mass insensitive to preconditioning is one which does not
propped fracture at the mine through site was mapped as a require preconditioning.
primary single fracture 1 to 2 mm wide at most locations.
Measurements conducted after fracturing continued to 8 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS.
show a reduction in velocity around the fracture zone
although not as pronounced as those measured during The fracture treatments produced subhorizontal fractures
fracturing. The implications of these low velocity regions is that extended from 30 to 50m from the injection point. The
expounded further in subsequent sections. orientation of the fractures formed was consistent with the
measured stress field. Growth of the fractures was affected
7 INDUCED ROCK MASS CHANGES by stress gradients, lithology, and structure in the rock
mass. Borehole monitoring of fracture growth was the only
Quantifying induced changes to the rock mass as a method tested that directly verified the size of the fracture
consequence of hydraulic fracture preconditioning can be created. Microseismic monitoring should be able to be used
demonstrated through various rock mass classification for this purpose with modifications to event logging and
schemes. The parameters most notably affected are :- analysis. Tiltmeter monitoring provided the best data on
• joint frequency (through the introduction of new hydraulic fracture orientation, which was confirmed by stress change
fractures), monitoring after accounting for non-symmetrical fracture
• joint condition (through the breaking of rock-bridges, growth effects. Stress change monitoring provides a direct
induced shear and the introduction of pressurised fluids), measure of the induced stress around the fractures and can
and be used to discriminate between shear and opening mode
• the stress regime (through increasing pore pressures, the fracture growth.
opening and closing of fracture systems, shearing along There is no doubt that the measured changes induced to
fractures and a reduction of in-situ stress differences ). the rock mass as a direct result of hydraulic fracture
preconditioning are significant and should consequently be
Although much effort has been made to measure the realised through a reduction in primary fragmentation,
changes to each individual parameter it is difficult to improved caveability and enhanced caving rates. Figures 9
attribute exact changes to specific parameters. Thus and 10 demonstrate examples of the anticipated effects of
calculating a preconditioned rock mass rating from preconditioning calculated for the Northparkes experimental
individual parameters, although instructive, is in most cases region, from either the introduction of discrete fractures or a
speculative. However, quantifying the cumulative affects fractured zone, as discussed in the preceding section.
induced to the rock mass can be reliably accomplished The next stage of preconditioning research should
through the application of seismic data, namely seismic therefore focus on acquiring cave performance data that
profiling and microseismic emissions. Several researchers can be used to validate these rock mass changes.

540 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 Massmin 2004


Unfortunately the mining industry, with a few exceptions, Ltd for their work on the seismic profiling and microseismic
has yet to invest in adequate cave propagation and monitoring, Ken Mills for his analysis of the ANZI cells,
fragmentation monitoring tools and resources from which Pinnacle Technologies and Brice Lecampion for their
cave performance can be evaluated analysis of the tiltmeter data and Tim Fergusson, Kevin
Quinlan and Anthony Coleman for all their work installing
and monitoring the instrumentation and operating the
pumping equipment.

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properties of jointed rock. Proceedings of the 5th
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Figure 9: The effects of preconditioning demonstrated on • van As, A. and Jeffrey, R.G. 2000. Hydraulic fracturing as
Laubscher’s Stability Chart (2000). a cave inducement technique at Northparkes. In
Proceedings of MassMin 2000 Conference pp 165-172.
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• Mills, K.W. (1997) In situ stress measurement using the
ANZI stress cell. Proceedings of the International
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Rotterdam:Balkema.
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Resolution Stress Change Monitoring near Hydraulic
Fractures, Proceeding of the MassMin 2004 Symposium,
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tiltmeter measurements at Northparkes E26 mine, CSIRO
Petroleum confidential report No. 04-015, March, 2004.
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Recent Advances in Hydraulic Fracturing. J. Gidley et al.
Figure 10: The effects of preconditioning demonstrated on editors, Monograph 12, SPE, Richardson.
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and seismic properties: Analytical studies, Journal of
Applied Geophysics 36, 1-19.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors would like to acknowledge Northparkes


Mines, CSIRO Petroleum and the International Caving
Study II for supporting this research. Thanks also to iGeo

Massmin 2004 Santiago Chile, 22-25 August 2004 541

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