Mine planning

Cave Mining 2040

An international consortium


As surface orebodies become scarcer and discoveries at depth more common, cave mining and deep exploration drilling is becoming the future of the mining industry. Effective and efficient ways of accessing orebodies below depths of 500m need to be a key focus for the mining industry in order to remain profitable into the future.

Potential high production rates and low operating costs mean that cave mining is increasingly the chosen method of extraction for progressively deeper large orebodies. Despite the long lead time required ahead of an investment decision and the high capital investment required to establish a caving mine, the current cave mining techniques of block, panel and sublevel caving are presently the only viable underground mining methods that can be used to extract large, deep, lower-grade ore deposits in harsh geological and geotechnical environments.


There are a number of established mines around the world that already use cave mining to successfully exploit ore bodies and a number of mine expansions in the pipeline. The combination of high demand, high metal prices, and deeper deposits make cave mining the mining method of the future. Cave Mining 2040 is shaping that future today.

After initial consultation with various stakeholders—including established and future mine owners; mining equipment and technology services; original equipment manufacturers; and a range of organisations with technologies that could help transform different aspects or processes of future cave mining—a range of cave mining challenges have been identified.

The Cave Mining 2040 ‘Horizon 1 Project’ comprises six study areas likely to have immediate short to mid-term impacts on cave mining methods during the next 10 years and ultimately contribute to the overall transformation of cave mining methods.

1. Total deposit knowledge

2. Cave Establishment

3. Mine design for new and emerging technologies

4. High stresses and major seismicity

5. Macro-block design and sequencing optimisation

6. Sub-level caving


Cave Mining 2040 aims to develop solutions that reduce lead times and capital investment by transforming cave mining as it’s presently practised to methods that improve its viability, safety, cost, production, and profitability; while improving its societal and environmental acceptance.


All founding sponsors of the Cave Mining 2040 initiative have now officially signed the agreement, with Chief Investigators signing their respective contracts. The launch of Horizon 1 projects commenced February 1, 2019. If you are interested in joining the Cave Mining 2040 initiative or collaborating on one of its projects contact us at info@mining3.com.