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Influence of Explosive Energy on SAG Mill Throughput

Influence of Explosive Energy on SAG Mill Throughput

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Influence of explosive energy on the strength of the rockfragments and SAG mill throughput
S. Michaux, N. Djordjevic
Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre, The University Of Queensland, Isles Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane, Australia
Received 21 June 2004; accepted 30 July 2004
Extensive in-situ testings has shown that blast fragmentation influences the performance of downstream processes in a mine, andas a consequence, the profit of the whole operation can be greatly improved through optimised fragmentation. Other unit operationslike excavation, crushing and grinding can all be assisted by altering the blast-induced fragmentation.Experimental studies have indicated that a change in blasting practice would not only influence fragmentation but fragmentstrength as well. The strength of the fragments produced in a blast is clearly important to the performance of the crushing and grind-ing circuit as it affects the energy required to break the feed to a target product size.In order to validate the effect of blasting on fragment strength several lumps of granite were blasted, under controlled conditions,using three very different explosive products. The resulting fragments were subjected to standard comminution ore characterisationtests. Obtained comminution parameters were then used to simulate the performance of a SAG mill. Modelling results indicate thatchanges in post blast residual rock fragment strength significantly influences the performance of the SAG mill, producing up to a20% increase in throughput.
2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Communition SAG milling; Simulation; Mining
1. Introduction
To produce a saleable product from a mine, an engi-neering operation has to perform a series of tasks: blast-ing, crushing, grinding and flotation. The purpose of blast fragmentation is to deliver the feed, to the concen-trator, in a form that the crushing/grinding circuit canprocess effectively. The finer the muck pile fragmenta-tion, the smaller the gap setting needed on the primarycrusher and the higher the SAG mill throughput. Whilethe mining process starts with blasting, the expectationis that the ROM size distribution will affect the finalproduct quality and quantity. Thus if the blastingprocess can be controlled and the optimum ROM sizedistribution can be generated, it is possible to optimisethe overall mine/plant economics (Kojovic et al., 1998;Kanchibotla et al., 1998; Kojovic et al., 1995).The principles of comminution rock breakage aresimilar in many respects to the blast fragmentation rockbreakage principles (Kim and McCarter, 1998). Commi-nution engineering is the reduction of a coarse size dis-tribution of rock particles to a finer size distribution,by applying energy to those fragments with a mechani-cal device (e.g. a crusher or a SAG mill). Blast fragmen-tation is the crushing of a volume of in-situ rock (thebench) to a group of fragments (the muckpile), by apply-ing energy to that volume of rock with explosives (Per-Anders Persson, 1997). The parameters used to describethe breakage of rock in both engineering areas havemuch in common.
0892-6875/$ - see front matter
2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.mineng.2004.07.003
Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 7 3365 5888; fax: +61 7 33655999.
E-mail address:
n.djordjevic@uq.edu.au(N. Djordjevic).This article is also available online at:www.elsevier.com/locate/minengMinerals Engineering 18 (2005) 439–448
Most discussion in the literature examines the influ-ence of a different size distribution delivered to the pri-mary crusher by altering the blast design. A finerdistribution in the muck pile does have an impact onthe efficiency of the concentrator (Kanchibotla et al.,1998). This study hypothesises that a change in blast de-sign will also generate a difference in strength of theresulting fragments. A change in the fragment strengthwill influence the efficiency of the grinding circuit in fur-ther breaking those fragments.Theconceptofblastdamageorblast-inducedpre-con-ditioning has been discussed in the literature in variousterms and/or trends (Kim and McCarter, 1998). A com-prehensivesurveyoftwoproductionblastsatahardrockquarry (Kojovic et al., 1995) found that a change in ap-plied explosive energy in the blast did indeed correspondtoachangeinthefragmentstrength.Thischangeinfrag-mentstrengthwasmeasuredatmultiplepointsinacrush-ing and screening circuit. This concept is the weakeningoftheresultingfragmentsasaconsequenceofthemannerit was broken (use of explosives). Not only does theexplosive fragment the rock, but the resulting particleshave been weakened in the process and are not as strongas the intact rock strength before the blast.Kim andMcCarter (1998)claims that comminution properties of the rock can be altered by the blasting. Grinding testson pre-conditioned rock have demonstrated changes inBond work indices of nearly 3 to 1 (Eloranta, 2001).Studies have found that there is much inner crackingor damage in the fragments, such as branching cracksnear the fracture surface and micro-cracks within thefragments produced under dynamic loading (Zanget al., 2000andLiu and Katsabanis, 1997). The higher the loading rate on the fragment, the more serious thedamage to the fragment (Zang et al., 2000andZang and Chang, 1999). The formation and propagation of micro-cracks control blast induced pre-conditioning.Different explosives release their energy and interactwith the rock in different ways. Explosives significantlydiffer in their abilities to inflict exterior and interiordamage (Singh, 1993).To validate the concept of blast-induced pre-condi-tioning and its dependency on explosive energy applied,an experiment was designed at the JKMRC (as part of alarger PhD thesis experimental program). This experi-ment had two phases.A series of rock lumps that have as close to uniformgeology as possible was selected. These were preparedand blasted at three different explosive energies. Toachieve this, three explosive products were selected withsignificantly different velocity of detonations (VOD).The objective of this phase was to determine the influ-ence on the residual strength of the resulting fragmentsand quantify blast-induced pre-conditioning. Afterblasting, the size distribution and strength of the result-ing fragments was measured.Three JKMRC comminution ore characterisationmethods were selected to test the resulting fragments.They were the impact breakage Drop Test, Ore Abra-sion Test and the Point Load Index. There were sevensamples in total. Three samples were blasted at differentexplosive energies with a repeat test of each (total of sixblasts). After blasting, one sample at each explosive en-ergy applied was subjected to a Drop Test, AbrasionTest and a Point Load Index Test. The remaining threeblasts were sized and were subjected to a Point LoadIndex Test only. A seventh sample was prepared bycutting using a large saw, after which the resultingparticles were subjected to a Point Load Index.The measured comminution parameters for eachblasting condition were used to simulate the perform-ance of a SAG mill circuit. The objective of this phasewas to isolate the influence of blast-induced pre-condi-tioning on the performance of the mill, regardless of the effect on fragment size. To this end, a single feed sizedistribution was selected and simulated with the threesets of measured breakage parameters.
1.1. Experimental design
Six 50–80kg lumps of granite were blasted at threedifferent explosive charge designs (two tests at eachexplosive charge design), shown below inTable 1.These samples were taken from the same geological domain ina metalliferous mine.The average sample density was 2.81g/cm
, with astandard deviation of 0.036. The average powder factorwas 0.55g of explosive per kg of sample with a standarddeviation of 0.047. Coupling regime describes how theexplosive charge is placed in the hole. A decoupledcharge would be place in the centre of an air void inthe blast hole. As such, the pressure produced by theexplosive can expand into this volume and be reducedin magnitude when it hits the borehole wall. A full cou-pled charge releases its energy directly into the rock,with no air void to expand into. The way this achievedin this experimental test series, is the charge is placedinto the hole and the fast set grout used for stemmingis cast around the charge as well. Thus the charge is fullyencased and must apply the explosive pressure directlyagainst the blasting medium.The samples were placed inside a blast chamber. Toreduce secondary fragmentation from blasted particlesbreaking against the inner wall of the chamber, rubbermatting and pieces of wood were used to surround thesamples. The objective was to isolate the fragmentationcaused by the explosive blast.Once the samples were recovered from the chamber,their size distribution and fragment strength was meas-ured. The size distribution was measured by sizing eachsample manually to minimise degradation. A mechani-cally performed sizing (example in a Ro-Tap shaker)
S. Michaux, N. Djordjevic / Minerals Engineering 18 (2005) 439–448
would apply energy to the fragments. The sharp edges of the fragments would be worn away as the particlesknocked against each other. The worn sharp edgeswould become part of the finer fractions, thus alteringthe final size distribution.
1.2. Applied explosive energy simulations
The experimental results can be partially explainedwith some simulations of Black Powder and PETN,using the Cheetah code. Cheetah is a thermochemicalcode developed by the Lawrence Livermore NationalLaboratory that simulates the ideal detonation of explo-sive products. It solves thermodynamic equations be-tween explosion product species to find chemicalequilibrium. The code predicts detonation propertiessuch as VOD, explosive pressure of explosive productsin simulated conditions.The constant volume calculation in the Cheetah codegives the pressure and temperature obtained by explo-sive, assuming that the casing of the idealised container(blastholes in this case) holds for the time scale of chem-ical equilibration (an order of microseconds). The en-ergy release and resulting pressure exerted by theexplosive was modelled for Black Powder and PETN(seeFig. 1).The useful work done by an exploding charge is donein an expanding volume, ten times the original explosivevolume (Brown, 1956). In the case of PETN at the pointof gas expansion ratio of 10, the energy released isapproximately 5.2kJ per gram of explosive. Black pow-der at the same gas expansion ratio releases approxi-mately 2.7kJ per gram of explosive. A simulation forRiogel was not done, as its chemical composition is con-fidential and the intellectual property of the manufac-turer. Riogel can be estimated by referring to anexplosive that has similar density and relative weightstrength that has known energy properties. From the lit-erature (Per-Anders Persson et al., 1992) an explosivewith similar properties (density, VOD and relativeweight strength) was selected. The energy released byRiogel was estimated at 3.5kJ per gram of explosive.The energy factor applied in the blasts used in thispaper is calculated by multiplying the energy releasedper gram by the powder factor used (Table 2).Presented values of explosive energy could explainthe difference in fragmentation between small-scaleblasts conducted using these products. A conclusioncould be drawn that a higher VOD explosive (such asPETN) would have a higher rate of application of en-ergy and higher amount of energy (seeFig. 2).
1.3. Post blast test-work 
The size distributions of each of the three blast de-signs and a replica of each are shown below inFig. 3.As can be observed, the PETN samples had finerfragmentation than the Riogel, which in was turn finerthan the Black Powder. The higher the explosiveVOD, the finer the fragmentation produced. This hasbeen discussed in the literature (Hino, 1956; Chitomboet al., 1999; Brinkmann, 1990; Adler et al., 1996a; Adleret al., 1996b and Stagg et al., 1990).The higher the explosive VOD, the more predictablefragmentation becomes.Fig. 3above supports thisclaim. The PETN blasts are very reproducible. The Rio-gel blasts are less reproducible and the Black Powderblasts are least reproducible at this small scale.
2. Fragment strength measurement with point load index
The focus of this paper is the strength of the result-ing fragments. To quantify the strength of the large
Table 1Experimental blast designSample Density (g/cm
) Explosive VOD (m/s) Powder factor (g/kg) Coupling regimeR1 2.78 PETN 8327 0.52 FullR2 2.79 PETN 8327 0.62 FullR3 2.88 Riogel 4300 0.57 FullNV1 2.82 Riogel 4300 0.52 FullR7 2.81 Black Powder 2700 0.59 FullNV7 2.80 Black Powder 2700 0.50 Full
Energy Release for PETN and Black Powder 
012345671101001000gas expansion ratio (V/Vo)
  e  n  e  r  g  y  r  e   l  e  a  s  e   (   K   J   /  g   )
Fig. 1. Simulation of the release of energy from Black Powder andPETN.
S. Michaux, N. Djordjevic / Minerals Engineering 18 (2005) 439–448

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