Mathcad in Mining and Mineral Exploration

Mathcad in Mining and Mineral Exploration
The Australian mining and mineral industry is a large filed involving the recovery, processing, marketing and financial management of mineral resources.  The focus of today’s mining and mineral exploration industry is on safety regulations, distinctive geology and mining research aimed at improving efficiency and safety in mines. Mathcad is an invaluable tool within this industry and is used at every stage of the mining process. It is used to look at mineable reserve calculations to determine whether the mineral deposits can be mined profitably. Mathcad is also involved mine planning and design including tunnels and shafts for underground operations, and pits and haulage roads for open-cut operations. It has an integral role in project management contains a large library of engineering tools and functions.

Rock mechanics forms an increasingly important part in optimizing ore extraction, as well as safe and cost-efficient rock excavations for civil purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the concepts involved and how Mathcad can be used to make the calculations simpler.

Rock Strength is a measure of the strength of a rock mass when subjected to any one or a combination of three primary forces. One such force is compressive stress. This stress consists of two opposing forces acting on a rock which decreases the volume of the rock per unit area.

Compressive strength is the maximum force that can be applied to a rock sample without breaking it.  Units of stress are either reported in pounds per square inch (psi in English units) or Newtons per square meter (N/m2 in metric units).  1.0 Newton is equal to 1.0 Kg-m/s2 and is derived by multiplying the mass by the gravity force, 9.81m/s2. Given that the mass density of granite: 2.65x1000kg/m3= 2650 kg/m3, the force on the bottom of a 1.0 m3 block of granite due to gravity is:

To find the total force exerted by the 1.0m3 block of granite we need to divide this by the total area at the bottom of the block which is 1.0m2. In other words we are finding the stress which is measured in units of Pascal (Pa).

We wish to determine the compressive force on a 6.0m3 (1m wide, 1m deep and 6m high) block of granite that has an applied load (force) of 2000KN. Does this load exceed the compressive strength for granite?
So reusing the formula for stress we already created earlier

This is well below the compressive strength of granite which ranges upwards from about 200 x 106 N/m2.

This is yet another example of how Mathcad can be used to increase profitability and decreasing costs via quick and time-efficient calculations which are crucial within the mining and mineral exploration industry.  With today’s focus on increased safety and mining research Mathcad is an invaluable tool at every step of the mining process from design through to excavation.

Mathcad can be downloaded for a free 30-day no obligation trial from CADDIT Australia at THIS LINK:


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