With the continuous reduction of mineral resources at shallow depth, more and more mines have to go deeper beneath the earth's surface to reach the ore zones. This increase in mine depth leads to a natural stress increase, which also raises the stresses around mine openings. This may result in ground instability, including the risk of rock bursts or exceedingly large opening closure. Stope backfilling is a well known solution to improve the ground stability condition. It also has the advantage of reducing the mining wastes disposed on surface, thus helping to reduce the environment impact from the industry. However, most available solutions for backfill design were developed for an isolated stope without taking into account the influence of mine depth, except for a few numerical analyses performed recently by Falaknaz and coworkers for the case of multiple backfilled stopes laying in the same level. In this paper, a numerical study is carried out to evaluate the stresses in backfilled stopes overlying a sill mat. The mine depth and the excavation of the underlying stope below the sill mat are both taken into consideration. Compared to the case of a single isolated backfilled stope, the obtained numerical results show that the stress magnitudes in the overlying backfill are considerably increased due to the excavation of the underlying stope. In general, the stresses increase with mine depth and backfill stiffness, but decrease with an increase in the surrounding rock mass stiffness. These results indicate that the barricade and sill mat backfill design should take into account the excavation of the underlying stope and the mine depth.


Backfilling has become common in underground mines around the world because it helps improve the ground stability conditions and reduce the environmental impact of mining operations by utilizing part of mine waste as underground backfill (Aubertin et al. 2002; Bussière 2007; Benzaazoua et al. 2008). Several mining methods can involve the use of backfill. In the case of the underhand cut-and-fill mining method, cemented backfill must be applied in order to avoid losing ore pillars.

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