Fume events in coalmines are typically associated with wet conditions, soft ground and deep holes. An ACARP research project used laboratory and field testing combined with literature reviews, numerical models and field investigations to characterise the influence of these conditions on the propensity for fume. This paper highlights the results for soft ground and wet conditions and proposes a proactive fume mitigation methodology. A simple numerical model is used to show how fume arises in soft rock that yields more under the loading of high-pressure, water-resistant explosive blends than for ANFO. The blends cool more rapidly after detonation into the lower temperature zone favourable for NO2 production. Low-pressure, high detonation temperature explosives are loaded or charged into soft ground. Water resistance must be considered because soft, faulted and fractured ground can lead to fume from degradation by water flow and non-ideal detonation of product in cracks.
A suite of tests were developed to quantify ANFO and emulsion blend performance over time that can be carried out in a mobile laboratory on-site. Index tests such as viscosity measurement and water resistance in beakers are proposed to quantify long-term product performance because small components, such as surfactant, prill impurities and prill fines, contribute to inconsistent product performance. Water ingress experiments and detonation tests aligned with field investigations identified and characterised the role of groundwater in damaging ANFO and causing fume.
Fume risk management is achieved using a proposed proactive fume mitigation methodology to characterise influences such as seasonal rain variation, groundwater flow hydrogeology, rock mass strength and structure well ahead of blast design. The design of blasts and selection of explosive products to consider expected conditions will reduce fume, improve efficiency in the mine and offer cost advantages.
Julian, L, Musunuri, A, Sellers, E J and Kanchibotla, S S, 2015. Mitigation of post-blast fume in soft ground and wet conditions, in Proceedings 11th International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, pp 511–518 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).