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Controlling Blast Related Fumes with Unconventional Explosives


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Author J Rock and K Bambrook


Hanwha Mining Services was approached by Glencore Coal to provide a series of (trial) demonstration blasts at its Clermont coalmine. The intent of the project was to trial a bulk explosive product that would be able to provide sufficient energy for the ground type encountered without production of post-blast fume. Three blasts were loaded using the patented XLOAD bulk explosives with a density of 1.00 g/cc. XLOAD bulk products are water resistant explosives that can be loaded at densities much lower than traditional (generic) water resistant heavy ammonium nitrate – fuel oil (ANFO) or pumped blends with significantly reduced risk of fume. In addition, these products have detonation characteristics that generally deliver a higher heave partition than conventional bulk products and hence improve muck pile looseness and digability.

The priority key performance measures included the absence of fume from blasting, being at least cost neutral and providing similar if not improved shovel dig rates. The design for the initial blast took a conservative approach to ensure the key blast outcomes of fume control and fragmentation were achieved.

The second blast used the same pattern dimensions as the benchmark bulk product used in this area to provide a cost neutral comparison with the benchmark products that had been used over the prior six months. This resulted in a 20 per cent lower powder factor than would have otherwise been used. To test the suitability of XLOAD, this shot was slept for over two weeks between loading and firing in geology where the sleep time is typically kept to a few days to minimise the fume risk.

The third blast utilised a slightly larger drill pattern to push the capabilities of XLOAD and provide a cost neutral comparison between the trial product and the traditional benchmark products. All three blasts were fired with no fume observed, no recordable incidents and good fragmentation. Shovel productivity from all three of the trial blasts was excellent with higher average instantaneous dig rates being recorded (average six per cent improvement against the instantaneous dig rates recorded for the benchmark blasts).


Rock, J and Bambrook, K, 2016. Controlling Blast Related Fumes with Unconventional Explosives, in Proceedings Ninth AusIMM Open Pit Operators’ Conference 2016, pp 39–49 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).