Mining Rule of Thumb

Mining Rules of Thumb have been gathered over 30 years of hard rock mining service provided by Stantec / Mining and predecessor firms.

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About the rules

The primary usage of Rules of Thumb should be in the development of conceptual designs and feasibility studies or, when a quick decision is required in the solution of an operating problem. Although an approximated answer, derived from a Rule of Thumb may solve an immediate problem, Rules of Thumb are not a substitute for the application of sound engineering and design methodologies. Although we firmly believe that the presented Rules of Thumb provide great continuing value to our industry, McIntosh Engineering does not guarantee their validity, nor do we (or the referenced individual sources) accept responsibility for application of the Rules of Thumb by others. Where possible, direct quotes have been provided from individual references; however, it is possible that referenced sources may not have directly stated the Rule of Thumb for which they are assigned credit. Although we have endeavored to accurately quote all individual references contained in the Rules of Thumb compilation, we apologize in advance for any misquotes that may be attributed to individual sources. We will provide updates to the Rules of Thumb compilation, as we become aware of corrections that may be necessary.


Field: Mine Maintenance

Area: General

  • The degree of maintenance enforcement at an operating mine should be just less than the point that disruptions to operations are at a level where additional maintenance costs equal the resulting profits from production. David Chick
  • In a trackless mine operating round the clock, there should be 0.8 journeyman mechanic or electrician on the payroll for each major unit of mobile equipment in the underground fleet. John Gilbert
  • Emergency repairs should not exceed 15% of the maintenance workload. John Rushton
  • LHD units at a shallow mine with ramp entry should have a utilization of 5,000 - 6,000 hours per year. Unknown
  • Captive LHD units should have a utilization of 3,500 - 4,500 hours per year. Unknown
  • LHD units in production service should have a useful life of at least 12,000 hours, including one rebuild at 7,500 hours. A longer life can be presumed from LHD units at the high end of the market with on-board diagnostics. John Gilbert
  • Underground haul trucks should have a useful life of 20,000 hours; more if they are electric (trolley system). John Chadwick

Area: Infrastructure

  • With ramp entry, a satellite shop is required when the mean mining depth reaches 200m below surface. A second one is required at a vertical depth of 400m. Jack de la Vergne
  • With ramp and shaft entry, a main shop is required underground when the mean mining depth reaches 500m below surface. Jack de la Vergne
  • A main shop facility underground should have the capacity to handle 10% of the underground fleet. Keith Vaananen
  • Service shops for open pit mines should be designed with plenty of room between service bays for lay-down area. As a rule of thumb, the width of the lay-down between bays should be at least equal to the width of the box of a pit truck. Cass Atkinson

Area: Service

  • An efficient Maintenance Department should be able to install one dollar worth of parts and materials for less than one dollar of labor cost. John Rushton
  • A servicing accuracy of 10% is a reasonable goal. In other words, no unit of equipment should receive the 250-hour service at more than 275 hours. Larry Widdifield