Case Study


In early 2018, the Cracow Gold Mine, located 500km northwest of Brisbane, knew they were facing challenges of dilution and stope performance attributed to inaccurate drilling. The drilling operations team decided to implement Minnovare’s Production Optimiser technology to address the challenge.


Following the Production Optimiser’s successful implementation, Cracow engineers began experimenting with a new ‘ZIPPER’ drill pattern since the mine was facing very narrow stopes (<1.5M width) which would have been uneconomical to mine using the current DICE-5 pattern method. The aim was to replace the traditional DICE-5 pattern on the most narrow-vein stopes. Due to the nature of the design, the Zipper pattern relies on a high degree of drilling accuracy – reducing the total number of holes drilled per stope and the average stope width to just 1.5m.


Minnovare recently caught up with Thao Nguyen, Senior Mining Engineer at Cracow, now under new owners, Aeris Resources. “Our stope sizes have dropped significantly over the years. Originally the majority of stope designs were much larger – 2.5m to 3.5m. Now, on average the majority of our stopes are 1.5m-2.5m wide. If a stope is 2.5m wide, we would still use the Dice 5 pattern. However, if we expect our stopes to be less than 1.5m wide, we use our Zipper pattern, with a hole spacing of 0.9m. To which, we add 0.3m planned over-break either side of the stope, making the designed width 1.5m wide. “That’s pretty narrow – typically equating just 2,000 stope tonnes. The margin for error is very fine, hence requiring a high degree of drilling accuracy. “Before the introduction of the Production Optimiser technology on our long-hole rigs, very narrow stopes such as these would have been difficult to recover economically.”


Following analysis of Cracow’s reconciliation data for FY20 and FY21 stopes with <2,000 tonnes equated to 119 Stopes or around 53% of total production.


Based on this, Cracow have been able to recover USD$43M worth of gold ounces that were at risk due to the narrow vein nature of the stopes. The all-in cost of mining these stopes was approximately USD$19M, generating an additional USD$23M profit.


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*Case study produced in Australia. All figures were produced in AUD with USD conversion as a representation for local advertisement only. 

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