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Blasting related indices as the key to underground blasting improvements in a challenging rock mass


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Author J Jackson and E Sellers


Blasting related indices were developed to quantify variation in rock strength and structure for each stope, and for each lift of each stope, as part of a Mine to Mill study at an underground open stope mine. The indices were derived from combinations of data from underground diamond drilling because the simplifying assumptions contained in the block model prevented sufficient differentiation in rock mass characteristics to enable adjustments to the blast design.

Application of combinations of blasting related indices enabled the identification of stopes with a high potential for inconsistent and oversize fragmentation, underbreak and overbreak. The indices also fragmentation outcomes to deliver increased material flow within stopes, better digability and predict indicative mill throughput. The stopes with issues

Calibration of the results enabled adjustments to the blast design based on the rock mass conditions and accordingly improved the blast outcomes. This enabled improved productivity by reducing underbreak and overbreak, having a more appropriate fragmentation, which reduces unplanned rock handling and improves bogging. The reduction in recovery drilling creates huge opportunities to improve output by reducing production delays and decreasing the overall cost per tonne. By understanding the explosive performance and blast energy distribution in relation to rock mass blastability poor, performing designs in blind upholes and convex stopes were identified.

The conclusion of the work is that value improvement, regarding increased revenue and reduced costs, can be achieved across the whole underground Mine to Mill process chain by developing stope based indices from the existing geological information to correctly tailor the blast design to the rock within, and surrounding, the stope.


Jackson, J and Sellers, E, 2017. Blasting related indices as the key to underground blasting improvements in a challenging rock mass, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 23–32 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).