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Geoscience input into blasting operations – let’s set a new standard

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Author T N Little

Description

The author contends that geoscience is presently under-utilised in the rock fragmentation by blasting process. Before we can set standards in this area, the following is required: mine geologists need to gain a better understanding of the blasting process and the blasting team needs to obtain a better appreciation of geology. Both groups need to be informed of what can be done to improve blasting outcomes, why it is necessary and how it can be achieved. By working closely together, both the geoscience toolkits and blasting expertise can be applied and focused on priority blast sensitive issues, with potential to improve mine economics and safety. Finally, and ideally, mine geologists need to take a leadership role in raw rock mass data collection and data management, and invited to take an active role in rock mass related behaviour data collection, integration and presentation.

This paper attempts to provide insight into all these prerequisites for setting a new standard for collaboration and mutual learning in this strategic opportunity area. The potential for blasting to leverage downstream processes is highlighted. Blasting objectives and blast design principles are introduced along with the required rock mass related inputs. Some hazardous geological materials and environmental conditions are described, along with how they can affect operational complexity.

Four case examples are used to illustrate the need for closer liaison between geology and blasting professionals. The first related to grade control blasting, aims to demonstrate how a blasting geology approach can add significant value. Case example two demonstrates how geological models and bench face analysis can assist with fragment control. The third and fourth case examples involve an overview of two case studies where timely geological and geotechnical knowledge input and intervention into blasting activities may have reduced losses due to blast initiated open pit slope collapses.

CITATION:

Little, T N, 2017. Geoscience input into blasting operations – let’s set a new standard, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 375–384 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).