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Muck Pile Shaping for Draglines and Dozers at Surface Coalmines


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Author S Esen and M Nagarajan


This paper presents three case studies from three surface coalmines. The first case study is from a coalmine where a dragline operates in 60 m wide and 1 km long strips. Typical overburden height ranges from 30 m to 50 m. The base case blast was modelled using an advanced blasting model (Distinct Motion Code – DMC) to establish the baseline using the blasting parameters in use before optimisation. DMC was used to model the alternative blasting scenarios to obtain the following key objectives:

the post-blast muck pile profile was required to have an optimum height of ~28 m

optimise cast percentage

achieve a well-fragmented muck pile for the dragline

the muck pile profile should be appropriate for the dragline entry into the strip.

Achieving these objectives would optimise the dragline performance through reducing rehandle and improving advance along the strip. DMC modelling resulted in the following outcomes:

the required muck pile profile could be achieved

the cast percentage increased from 21.1 to 25.1 – a four per cent increase

rehandle volumes were reduced.

Establishing a good quality assurance / quality control (QA/QC) process was essential to delivering a blast that could achieve these outcomes. The blast was fired successfully and the dragline completed the strip approximately two weeks ahead of the time taken for the previous strip.

The second case study is from a coalmine where D11 dozers are used to move the blasted material to the spoil. An optimum profile was required for the dozers for this low-cost mining operation. To achieve this, an electronic blasting system (uni tronicTM 600) was introduced to optimise the muck pile profiles being delivered. The new muck pile profiles showed improved cast percentage from 10.6 per cent to 17.8 per cent. The changes in the muck pile centre of mass displacement improved dozer efficiency as a result of pushing material shorter distances to its final position. Dozer productivity (bcm/h) statistically did not change but coal was being exposed at a faster rate.

The third case study summarises the results from a site where dozers are used to minimise the total mining cost. Traditionally, excavators had been used on-site with conventional blast designs. After firing the first cast shot, the blasted material was found reasonably well-fragmented. Although dozing productivity hasn’t been quantified on-site, operators were providing positive feedback (easier push) due to the reasonably good muck pile profile suiting to the dozers. This site also realised significant savings with the dozing as compared to their truck/shovel operation.


Esen, S and Nagarajan, M, 2015. Muck pile shaping for draglines and dozers at surface coalmines, in Proceedings 11th International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, pp 409–416 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).