EXPLO CONFERENCE / MELBOURNE, VIC, 8 9 NOVEMBER 2011
GEOLOGICAL CONTROLS ON DRILLING AND BLASTING OPERATIONS
to maintain hole stability, lower penetration rates and/or excessive bit wear.In order to keep this paper to manageable size, only a brief
summary of the ‘geological controls on blasthole drilling’ will
be given here:
The selection of the drill rig and the bit design is done on the basis of the geology.
Amount of drilling required to fragment a volume of rock
is controlled by the geology.
Penetration rate is controlled by the mineral composition
and micro-fabric, eg porosity and quartz. It is also controlled by elastic/plastic behaviour, the mechanical rock properties, the rock mass conditions, and discontinuity networks present.
Bit life depends on the percentage of minerals with a
hardness (abrasiveness) greater than that of steel.
Hole stability is controlled by the rock strength and sensitivity of the wall rock to the atmosphere, water and/
or stress relief.
Deviation is affected by geological structures especially
for long, inclined and small diameter blastholes.
Presence of hazardous mineral can inuence the drilling practice and health and safety provisions required.
GEOLOGICAL CONTROLS ON BLAST GEOMETRY
In this section the controls that geology places on the geometric design parameters are reviewed. This concept is not new and is probably better considered as ‘blast design
modied to t the geology’. Figure 4 shows that the rock type, discontinuities and weathering/alteration patterns inuence burden and spacing dimensions. Discontinuities can be taken in account when selecting the blasting direction. Also shown is that the orebody characteristics inuence the blast method.
Controls due to hazardous minerals
The relationships between certain mineral assemblages and
blasting safety hazards was the subject of a paper by Little and Blair (2011). The high inherent safety risk consequences identied included: premature explosion, geothermal outbursts, asbestosis and mesothelioma, uncontrolled yrock, opening safety (falling from a height), reballs, secondary dust explosions, and misre safety. Figure 5 illustrates the hazard and the unwanted consequences for eight hazardous ground conditions. These all add operational complexity.
Controls due to valuable minerals
The impact of valuable mineral distribution (grade) on blast design geometry will be discussed here. In ore blocks the blasting objective nearly always relates to grade control and in particular minimising ore/waste mixing which results in
dilution if sent to the processing plant and ore loss if sent
to the waste dump. Figure 6 shows the economic leverage for ore mining to be a high degree of selectivity. For waste
or overburden mining the economic leverage relates to high production rates.
Geology and selection of the blasting techniques
The selection of the appropriate blasting technique is to
a large degree controlled by the geology of the deposit.
Table 1 shows nine different geological environments based on deposit geometry (simple, moderately complex, complex) and variability (coefcient of variation – COV). Examples of
deposit for each geological environment are also given. The
appropriate blasting methods are also identied using the following denitions:
selective blast – only single material type being blasted, for example: waste, ore, overburden, coal;
bulk blast – more than one material type being blasted, for example: ore and waste (grade control blasting); overburden and coal (through seam blasting);
bench blast – blast using a subvertical free face;
paddock blast – blast ring to a horizontal free face; and
buffer blast – blast ring to a buffer rock pile (not differentiated in the tabulation).
Controls due to rock strength properties
In the rst example, rock strength and porosity properties are used to control spacing and burden design. The example relates to Mt Whaleback Iron Ore Mine, in Western Australia and is based on the work on Bellairs (1986). Table 2 provides
suggested design changes based on ore type and characteristics.
- Blast design modiﬁed to ﬁt the geology.