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Benefits Related to Applications of a

Mass Blast in Open Cut Mining


J Vergara1, C Muoz2, N Ortega3 and D Avils4

ABSTRACT
Mass blasts have been the subject of extensive studies because of their potential benefits in mining
operations. However, it has not been possible to advance due to the paradigm that states that the
blasts near the designed final wall or to critical structures have to be low tonnage. Another reason
is the absence of specialised simulation programs to more precisely determine the influence of
the energy released by blasting to the rock mass. There are some studies that demonstrate the
possibility of massive blasting that maintain the design of the final slope (Farias and Santander,
2014). It should be noted that these studies develop the concept that the size of the blast should not
increase the peak vibration in the rock mass.
The study was carried out in partnership with Los Colorados Mining Company. Analysis,
reconciliation and wall control for two types of blasts were performed:
1. blasting production: approximately 850000t, with special wall control considerations
2. blasting of approximately 950000t over the entire width of the bench.
Monitoring systems were used in the near field and far field using examination of holes in
order to obtain information to assess the impact on the rock mass and then to compare these to
conventional blasting combining production and contour blasting.
The results show that for a large blasted volume, production and/or those generated from toe to
crest on the bench did not produce more impact in the rock mass than the conventional blasting.
The conclusions drawn from this study are:
an improvement in the excavation rate of 7500 t/h that is higher than the maximum rates
normally obtained
the peak vibrations of the P wave generated by both blasts did not exceed the peak particle
velocity criteria (Vergara and Muoz, 2014)
holes examination indicating no difference in their entire length, in pre- and post-blast review
over US$2000000 savings generated in the year (estimated by the client) (Avils, 2014).

INTRODUCTION
Summary
Given the need to increase production at Los Colorados wall control designs.
Mine, owned by CAP Mining, a massive blasting test plan These trials were made with near- and far-field examination
was developed, defining as this type of blasting the ones that of holes so that information could be obtained that allows the
only increase the blasted tonnage in the production pattern, to evaluation of the impact on the rock mass and compares it
approximately 1000t and the ones that consider the blasting with conventional blasting. The conventional blasts consist of
pattern from toe to crest, with tons similar to the traditional separate production blasting and contour blasting.
one (1000t).
The obtained results showed that blasting of higher
For this purpose, the test blasting considered: volumes, does not have a major influence in the rock mass
application of advanced blasting technology than does conventional blasting.
efficient use of the explosives energy
initiation sequences using the wave collision concept Objectives
use of initiation sequences that decrease the damage in the The main objective is to develop high-volume blasting, with
walls equal or less impact in the rock mass than the traditional

1. Advance Blasting Services, Orica Mining Services, Constanera Sur 2730 Avenue, Providencia, Santiago 7500000, Chile. Email: jose.vergara@orica.com
2. Advance Blasting Services, Orica Mining Services, Constanera Sur 2730 Avenue, Providencia, Santiago 7500000, Chile. Email: carlos.munoz@orica.com
3. Advance Blasting Services, Orica Mining Services, Constanera Sur 2730 Avenue, Providencia, Santiago 7500000, Chile. Email: natalia.ortega@orica.com
4. Drill and Blasting Department, CAP Minera Mina Los Colorados, Pedro Pablo Muoz No 675, La Serena, Chile. Email: daviles@cmp.cl

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 625
J VERGARA et al

method of separate production and contour blasting and influence of the blasting on the wall damage. Even when the
high-energy explosives. operational benefits of augmenting the size are varied, the
The following secondary objectives are desired: needs highlighted include:
increase the production using advanced blasting Blasting movements it is estimated that this factor is one
techniques of the principal savings because it reduces by at least a
decrease operational time due to evacuation for the half the movement time of shovels (cable and hydraulic
blasting shovel), which takes an average of 45minutes.
diminish the redrilling process in polygon blasting zones Review holes for the next pattern reduction of holes review
of next patterns due to this reduction of the blasting events
increase the equipment availability for maintenance.
in half.
To accomplish this objective, the study implemented two
Improve the drilling sequence having less distance between
types of trials (for design information see Tables1 and2):
patterns helps in carrying a better setting of the drilling
1. massive blast, with a traditional control trench sequence.
2. massive blast toecrest. Pattern loading performance consequence of the previous
As a safety measure and to assess the success or otherwise point, the advance in the patterns is neater and optimal,
of the trial blasts, we implemented: saving operational times.
near- and far-field instrumentation for examination of the Improvement of the operational width perform trial in a
rock mass using a borehole camera to view the damage massive blast involving the contour blast along with the
expressed along the length of the witness holes primary blast as this improves the operational width and
advanced technology used on wall stability for open cut the management of the power shovel to perform presplit
mining and damage control for underground mining trenches along with delivering a healthy wall.
a geological, geotechnical and applied geomechanical Improves activities coordination coordination is improved
review to assess the rock mass condition. and the time of other activities like hole sampling and
These are the relevant concepts, and the acquired experience geology revision is reduced. In addition, the liberated time
in the developing of these technologies has been used in the enables changes in the loading due to a lithology change
implementation of massive blasting at this mine. whenever such needs arise.
According to the studies of different authors, among them
Operational theoretical base Chiappetta (2014), it has been indicated that the charge factor
The normal operational practices for wall control through and tonnage are not critical elements for vibration generation.
blasting use different approaches, among them: These are more relevant in the retardation and the distance
used in the blasting pattern, simulating several blasts of low
presplit use tonnage this way and spacing them in a short amount of time
use of buffer lines and/or damping (break), which helps control the vibrational impact in the rock
orientation of wave train mass.
separation of production and contour blasting
blasting tonnage to break as one event. DEVELOPMENT
The most controversial of these approaches have been the Two test blasts were developed that were aligned with the
last two, where the separation of blasting events and tonnage requirements and needs of the client. These were recommended
involved have been put up for discussion, especially the for short-term planning and so that the geotechnical team
could respond to the development of phase5. Table1 shows
TABLE 1 the tonnages, while Figure1 shows the location of the blasting
Toecrest massive blast design parameters. previously mentioned and the position of the far-field
vibration measurement on line equipment (NCVib).
Measurement Value
Diameter (cm) 26 Geological geotechnical characterisation
Bench height (m) 15 The following is based on a technical note by E-Mining
Technology SA (2013). Generally, according to the information
Burden (m) 7.5 received by CAP Mining, the properties of intact rock are the
Spacing (m) 10.5 ones showed in Table2 with the structural condition defined
Charge factor (g/t) 200 by the principal failures with a north-east orientation, and
the secondary structures with north-west and south-west
Excavation rate (t/h) 7.606 orientation (see Figure2).
The escalating process is based on the Hoek (1994) criteria,
TABLE 2 and from this can be highlighted the Metandesite rock with a
Massive blast, with a traditional control trench. geological resistance index (GSI) of 50 and for Diorite a value
of 30, which indicates a GSI of medium to poor.
Measurement Value
Diameter (cm) 31 Implementation of first trial TR 495133
Normal production blasting design was considered in this
Bench height (m) 16
pattern (T495-D1), and only the tonnage was increased
Burden (m) 6.5 to approximately 900 kt, maintaining the control blasting
Spacing (m) 10.5 (T495-E1) with a width of 35m, as indicated in Figures2and3.
The main characteristics of the production pattern are:
Charge factor (g/t) 200
Phase 5 south, Metandesite lithology
Excavation rate (t/h) 6.195
involve tonnage 877kt

626 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
BENEFITS RELATED TO APPLICATIONS OF A MASS BLAST IN OPEN CUT MINING

FIG 1 The general location of the plant where the trials were developed.

FIG 2 Sector of the plant where the trials took place. The preferential orientation of the structures can be seen (E-Mining Technology SA, 2013).

FIG 3 The exit orientation and the change performed to the production pattern, where the use of
a presplit line to simulate the condition of the final wall can be observed.

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500ms breaks TABLE 3


with control trenches, under normal loading conditions. General pattern information for demo blast.
The only change considered was the presplit use, in a line
of approximately 50m, which helped to establish a baseline Trial Tonnage Lithology Pattern
to compare the damage control of the next trial, which will be 1 877 Metandesite TR 495133
toecrest. This is shown in Figure3. 2 950 Diorite TR 495143

Instrumentation for damage control


The instrumentation plan for demo-blast included: Instrumentation for damage control
The instrumentation plan for this test blast was:
perform borehole camera examination of holes
install near-field geophones perform borehole camera examination of witness holes
implement cross hole seismic technique install near-field geophones
monitor far-field with NCVib equipment. monitor far-field with NCVib equipment.
The instrumentation technique used consisted of filming The technique used in the instrumentation was to film the
the drilled holes before and after the blasting so a visual holes before and after the blasting so a visual verification could
verification could be made of the effects in the rock mass, be made of the effects caused in the rock mass (Figure6).
and in the surroundings (within 30m distance at most) of the
presplit (see Figure4). The general information for the demo RESULTS FOR WALL CONTROL
blast is shown in Table 3 The geotechnical information is shown in Table4 (E-Mining
Technology SA, 2013) with the P wave velocity values from
Implementation of second trial TR 495143 the cross-hole seismic methodology (Figure7).
In this design, a 950kt blast was loaded breadthways across Applying the peak particle velocity criterion, which is
the bench (toecrest) in only one event. Instrumentation defined by Equation 1, delivers a peak vibration value of
needed to analyse the potential effect in this type of blasting 730mm/s:
in the rock mass was also installed.
The principal characteristics of the production pattern were: vt * Vp
PPVCRITICAL = (1)
Phase 5 South, Andesite Lithology E
involved tonnage 950kt where:
times between rows increases of 150to300ms t strain to traction of the intact rock
500ms breaks Vp P wave velocity, obtained in laboratory for intact
blasting full width of the bench rock trial or calculated from the technique cross-
presplit blasted in advance of the main shot, using spacing hole, escalated to rock mass
of 1.8m with 16cm diameter blastholes. E Youngs modulus
The previous points are reflected in Figure 5, where the PPVCRITICAL is the critical peak particle velocity
utilisation of a polystyrene emulsion product (Flexigel The information obtained for massive blasting indicated on
Control) series is shown. Rows 1 and 2 are damped and for Table1 shows the following.
the production pattern design higher energy explosive was
used, with the objective of generating a better fragmentation.

FIG 4 Sector where geophones and hole examination were installed.

628 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
BENEFITS RELATED TO APPLICATIONS OF A MASS BLAST IN OPEN CUT MINING

FIG 5 The design used for the toecrest blast.

Demo blast TR 495133


The vibrations obtained by the distribution of the
positioning of the instrumentation indicated in Figure 4
shows a decrease of approximately 50percent in the peak
behind the presplit to 494.5mm/s (Figure8).
The vibration peak measured in the geophone in the berm,
at a 35m distance (that represents the width of the control
blasting), was 53.5mm/s (Figure8).
The information obtained from the hole examination
indicates that there was no alteration of the observable
characteristics inside the holes, in block displacement
terms, crack formation and broken material at the bottom
of the hole (Figure 9).

Demo blast TR 495143


The vibrations measured according to the distribution and
the positioning of the instrumentation indicated in Figure6,
shows a decrease of approximately 48 percent in the peak
value, being behind the presplit of 524.4 mm/s (Figure 10).
The information obtained from the hole examination
indicates that there was no alteration of the observable
characteristics inside the holes, in terms of block
displacement, crack formation and/or broken material at
the bottom of the hole (Figure 11).

DISCUSSION
The importance of massive blasting, as defined in this study,
is the potential benefits that are delivered to the operation.
These benefits include:
Perform a 1 000 000 t blast versus three blasts of 300 000t
FIG 6 Sector where geophones and hole examination was installed. each, generating a decrease in the evacuation times and

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 629
J VERGARA et al

FIG 7 A common diagram used to determine Vp wave and presplit filter.

FIG 8 Vibration peak received by the geophones behind


the presplit and behind the control fringe. FIG 10 The vibrational peak received by the geophones
at the berm.

FIG 11 The hole examination condition pre- and


FIG 9 The condition of the hole examination pre- and post-demo blast. post-demo blast.

630 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
BENEFITS RELATED TO APPLICATIONS OF A MASS BLAST IN OPEN CUT MINING

TABLE 4
Geotechnical properties of intact rock (E-Mining Technology SA, 2013)

Unit Pe (g/cm3) UCS (MPa) ci (MPa) t (MPa) E (MPa) Vp/Vs (m/s)


Metandesite 2.99 112.16 99 -5.76 48600 6127/3645
Diorite 2.71 92.19 80.28 -4.41 42400 5524/3538
UCS uniaxial compressive strength; Vp P-wave velocity; Vs S-wave velocity.

drilling stoppage, and there is also a reduction in the time


lost by the stoppages in the loading process.
In some places, there exists the need of re-drilling holes
due to the collapsing that occurs in some of the holes
near to the join of the adjacent blasts. Massive blasts will
reduce the time it takes to complete these processes, which
is essentially due to the fact of having a large blast that
replaces the various blasts of lower tonnage.
It should be noted that:
This technique should be studied case-by-case and should
not be generalised for all sites and different rock mass
quality. It is thought to be very likely that the use of
traditional blasting (production and control) will be more
effective for a highly fractured rock mass.
In using this approach, it is necessary that the different
mine teams (short-term planning, drilling and blasting, FIG 12 Summary that shows the vibration peak of both demo blasts.
maintenance, etc) work together.
An instrumentation plan must be generated that REFERENCES
incorporates hole examination. Also, it must be recognised Avils, D, 2014. Operational benefits of mass blast in Los Colorados,
that theoretical models that define the damage level are Vallenar, formal letter sent to Orica Chile SA for mass blast
general approximations and do not always reflect the performance in Los Colorados mine, February 21 2014.
effect that the blasting has on the rock mass. Chiappetta, F, 2014, Response to Los Colorados audit report
questions, formal letter sent in answer to questions from Carla
CONCLUSIONS Reyes (Senior Technical Services Engineer).
The conclusions obtained from the performed test blasts, both E-Mining Technology SA, 2013. Scaling of properties to the rock
with tonnage over 800 kt, are the following: mass, Phase 4 and Phase 5 project, Rajo Los Colorados, Via del
mar Chile, technical note, March.
according to the mine personnel, there was an
Farias, E and Santander, C, 2014. Full control y Conciliacin
improvement in the excavation rates, which were superior
Geotcnica de Diseos y su Contribucin al xito del Remate de
to the maximum rates consider as normal (ranging from la Explotacin de Fase 3 del Rajo Don Luis en Divisin Andina
5500 to 7000 t/h), getting values of 7500 t/h de Codelco Chile (Full control and geotechnical conciliation of
the peak vibration level generated in both blasts did not designs for the success of phase 3 exploitation in open pit Don
exceed the peak particle velocity criterion (Figure 12) Luis at Andina Division, Codelco Chile), internal report Codelco
the examination holes do not indicate differences along Chile Divisin Andina, Los Andes, Chile.
all the length in the pre- and post-test blast conditions Hoek, E, 1994. Strength of rock and rock masses, ISRM News Journal,
(Avils, 2014). 2(2):416.
Vergara, J and Muoz, C, 2014. PPV critic scaling to the rock mass
implication on the vibrational damage control models, ASIEX
2014 (Valdivia: Chile).

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 631