The application of pumpable emulsions

in narrow-reef stoping
by S.P. Pearton*

from many of the regulations imposed on Class
1 explosives. The increase in safety and
Synopsis security obtainable through this classification,
Pumpable emulsion explosives have been available to surface and together with the physical properties of
underground massive mining operations for decades, and their unique pumpable emulsions, allows for significant
properties offer significant advantages in terms of improved safety, advantages over alternative explosives
reliability, and performance. However, the benefits of pumpable emulsions technologies available for use in the narrow-
have been unavailable to narrow-reef mining operations due to the lack of
reef environment. In addition to the improved
technology necessary for their successful implementation in this
safety during transportation, storage, and
challenging environment. Despite efforts to promote and enhance the
safety and performance of bulk emulsions for narrow-reef stoping, little
handling, pumpable emulsions can be pumped
research has been undertaken to advance the pump technologies required between transport vessels, through shaft
for their implementation. This has resulted in a gap in knowledge and pipelines, and into the blast-hole, thereby
technology, and as a consequence the successful implementation of a reducing labour requirements.
pumpable emulsion system has consistently eluded the narrow-reef Given the possible benefits available
environment. through the implementation of pumpable
The purpose of the following investigation was to evaluate the emulsions within narrow-reef operations, a
viability of pumpable emulsion explosives for use in South African study was undertaken in order to gain an
narrow-reef mining operations. By approaching the problem from multiple understanding of the factors essential to their
perspectives, this research aimed firstly to propose a theoretical
successful implementation. Through this
framework and suite of equipment suitable for the implementation of
understanding, a project was formulated that
pumpable emulsions within the narrow-reef environment. Through the
development of this suite of pumpable emulsion technology, tests could be would allow for the development of a suite of
undertaken on the proposed narrow-reef emulsion formulation and underground emulsion technologies and UN
pumpable emulsion technology to obtain the necessary understanding of class 5.1 pumpable emulsion formulations
the performance of the system under controlled operating conditions prior suitable for application in the South African
to its implementation in the broader mining industry. narrow-reef environment.
Keywords
blasting technology, explosives, pumpable emulsions. Explosives selection for narrow-reef
blasting applications
In order to understand the benefits available
through the implementation of pumpable
Introduction emulsion systems, a discussion of available
explosives is important for comparative
Bulk emulsion explosives have been used in purposes.
large-scale mining operations across the globe Toward the end of the 20th century the use
for decades. The reason for their extensive use of dynamite explosives was phased out of
lies primarily in the advantages of bulk narrow-reef mining operations in favour of
emulsion explosives over alternative explosive various forms of ammonium nitrate (AN)-
technologies, both in terms of safety and blast based explosives. Despite the commonality of
performance. Despite these benefits having AN in the various explosives, considerable
been attainable for some time, the scale and
cost of equipment required for the implemen-
tation of such technologies has resulted in
their use being limited to large-scale mining
operations. This limitation continues to exist,
despite the ever-growing demand for increased
levels of safety and security in the narrow-reef
* BME, a division of the Omnia Group
environment.
© The Southern African Institute of Mining and
As pumpable emulsions are insensitive to Metallurgy, 2015. ISSN 2225-6253. This paper
initiation prior to sensitization they are was first presented at the, Platinum Conference
classified as UN Class 5.1, and as such are free 2014, 20–24 October 2014, Sun City South Africa.

The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy VOLUME 115 JUNE 2015 489

Figure 1 – Effect of coupling ratio on radial compressive strain and fall Despite these efforts. 1966). the crushed particle size and compaction of the prill within the blast-hole will vary depending on the available air pressure. and as a exercised in achieving consistent quality product. in turn resulting in higher underground operations increases the density of the prices than for packaged explosives than for bulk products. In addition. design. and the geological Cartridged explosives and environmental conditions in which the blast takes place. improving the efficiency of energy transfer hole. As these factors affect the density of blow-loaded ANFO and this in turn affects the VOD. the bulk nature of ANFO initially appeared to be beneficial to Despite these benefits. In addition to the explosives. they are also easy to handle in confined and difficult from the blast-hole into the surrounding rock mass. Two types ANFO was first introduced into South African underground of packaged AN-based cartridges exist for use in tabular mining operations in 1963. As the air pressure available at the time of offloading and handling on the shaft. undesirable performance profile. In addition to increased results and high levels of explosives waste. ‘less arduous’ to handle. 1990).94 to 1. regulation.8 g/cm3. and by 1975 accounted underground blasting applications. Owing to their pre- overcharging of blast-holes. This high blow-loaded density further exacerbates the problem of the overcharging of blast-holes due to the increased energy within the blast-hole. As the results obtained in blasting operations are. and to humid conditions and its use will result in poor and storage on mining operations. but it was less better equipment and a higher level of control can be expensive than dynamites. it allowed for the unprecedented entails numerous disadvantages. As ammonium nitrate crystals undergo a phase change at 32°C. Although underground conditions. limited success is evident and ANFO time (Saffy. Loaded densities achieved through the use of pneumatic loaders commonly range from 0. and the Department of of ANFO it is also less sensitive to detonation when exposed Labour (DOL) throughout manufacture. the use of packaged explosives mining operations. delivery to. and the loading technique used. the level of safety of commercial explosives. Not only did ANFO increase cartridges are pre-sensitized at a manufacturing facility. 2010). thereby increasing the relative bulk strength (RBS) As packaged products also require additional labour for of the explosive. This high mass of fully-coupled sensitized nature. Chief overbreak (Mosenthal. explosives manufac- turers have reduced the relative bulk strength of ANFO.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping differences in physical properties and performance character. the manufacture of pre-packaged explosives Although ANFO is manufactured at an approximate bulk necessitates increased investment and operating expenses on density of 0. result of its bulk form it allowed for 100% coupling within as cartridges are manufactured ready to load into the blast- the blast-hole. the control of product shelf life is important in order to limit the degradation of ANFO through temperature cycling (Mulke. the UN Class 1 classification in part. the blow loading of ANFO in the side of the manufacturer. namely watergel (slurry) for approximately 60% of the commercial explosives and emulsion cartridges. The combination of disadvantage in the current South African environment given these factors reduces the efficiency of blasting operations and the stringent legislation regulating the transportation and increases the overall cost of mining due to undesirable blast control of Class 1 explosives. as well as the quantity of ANFO blown into the air during loading operations. has been largely excluded from consideration in mines with istics still exist between the various types of AN-based poor ground conditions (Kruger. Due to the hygroscopic nature Inspectorate of Explosives (CIE). the desired outcome of the blast. explosive. a broad and inconsistent range of VOD results will be experienced when using ANFO. transportation loading determines the force at which the ANFO granules are propelled through the charging lance and into the hole. In an attempt to reduce the extent of damage caused by the overcharging of blast-holes with ANFO. Repeated cycling of ANFO across 32°C results in the degradation of the original prill and significantly increases the density achieved through pneumatic loading. The way in which an explosive is packaged has both practical ANFO and financial implications for mining operations. This is a significant inconsistent blast results in wet mines. As packaged explosives such as consumption within the sector. dependent on the physical properties and of ANFO increases the burden on the transportation and performance characteristics of the selected explosive. 1994).1 g/cm3 depending on the abovementioned variables (Brinkmann. 1961) JUNE 2015 ▲ 490 VOLUME 115 The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy . the storage of ANFO as required in accordance with South optimal choice of explosive will differ depending on the blast African law. the strength of the prill. most packaged explosives are classified as low velocity of detonation (VOD) explosive increased the Class 1 explosives and as such are subject to the regulations extent of damage to the hangingwall and increased levels of of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

a greater mass of explosive is necessary per (Brinkmann. 1992). with average density values in the blast-hole to break a fixed mass of rock. Saffy. and as a result. 1990). the resistance of watergel explosives to 80% to 90%. efficiency as bulk explosives. Emulsion explosives are composed of two immiscible m/s) (Brinkmann. pumpable emulsions are manufactured with a higher take place. they are unable to achieve the same blasting accidental initiation is good. Gelling agents to their Class 5. initially by a decrease in loaded mass per metre as a result of the aqueous ammonium nitrate phase of the emulsion is decoupling. Typical VOD ratio between the explosive charge and the blast-hole wall. 1961). The degree of decoupling During detonation.1 classifi- while fuel oils are added to the matrix to enable detonation to cation. and secondly by a loss in shock energy delivered divided repeatedly through a blending process. Another the ratio of the manufactured cartridge size to hole size. and a 100% coupling gases act on the rock mass will be greater. This is evident in Figure 2. further region of 1. As emulsions are insoluble in water. a reduction in charging time due to the high explosives.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping throughout the operations. the elevation of reaction. values for smaller diameter watergel charges fall within the As full coupling increases the efficiency with which the range of 3200 m/s to 3700 m/s (Brinkmann. These factors include the reaction between the fuel and oxidizer. Typical VOD values for emulsions in compensate for the poor efficiency of shock transmission to small-diameter blast-holes range from 4500 m/s to 5100 m/s the rock mass. initiation of the emulsion formulation. during detonation (Svard and Johansson. 1999). During the manufacturing process. Watergel or slurry explosives as they are also known were first implemented in South African opencast mines in 1968. the overall efficiency for a high energy concentration during loading (Spiteri. the strain wave induced through the detonation of reduction in labour for the transportation and loading of the charge will be lower than that of high-VOD emulsion explosives. a emulsion. This. and glass micro-bubbles are site chemical sensitization.35 g/cm3 compounding the additional time and labour required to load (Spiteri. results a marginally lower VOD added to the formulation. 1998). explosives. From the figure it is evident that liquids with an aqueous oxidizer phase and a fuel oil phase the efficiency of decoupled explosive charges is impacted making up the explosive. While pumpable Due to the comparatively poor intimacy of the fuel and emulsions share many of the performance characteristics of oxidizer phases of watergel explosives. 1998). nitrostarch. As this intimacy allows for a more efficient strength of the wrapping or sleeving material. Owing to the lower detonation efficiency. 1998. the high degree of intimacy between is dependent on a number of variables in the manufacturing the two phases of the emulsion explosive allows for a faster and loading of the explosive. they have a lower cartridged emulsion explosives. the resistance of emulsions to significant reduction in explosive efficiency results from the accidental initiation is substantially less than even that of use of decoupled cartridged explosives (Figure 1). and during loading of the blast.15 g/cm3 to upper limits as high 1. sensitizing agents such as TNT. In order to watergel explosives. thereby resulting in a manufactured stiffness of the cartridge. allowing front are transmitted into the rock mass. while aluminium is added to specific to the water content and overall sensitivity to increase the energy released during detonation. For this coupling ratio is directly proportional to the loss in shock reason no other sensitizing chemicals need be added to an energy or the strain wave delivered to the rock mass. VOD 4500 m/s) tabular mining operations in cartridged form in the early and average energy pumpable emulsion (RBS 132.1 classification and bulk form. Pumpable emulsion explosives Watergel explosives constitute ‘a colloidal suspension of solid Pumpable emulsions represent the forefront in explosives AN particles suspended in a liquid AN solution and gelled safety and efficiency in underground mining operations due using cross linking agents’ (Aimone. together with the larger bubble size introduced through on- Composition B. they are the blast-face. bution of oxidizer droplets within the matrix. smaller volumes of noxious gases are released the operation where it is used. the thickness and higher VOD. of the blast is improved (Saffy. during the loading of the explosive. the physical properties of VOD and as such a lower detonation pressure than emulsion pumpable emulsions allow for greatly improved operational explosives (Spiteri. forming to the rock mass as a result of the decreased efficiency in the microscopic droplets of oxidizer suspended within the oil transmission of the strain wave through the air cushion ▲ The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy VOLUME 115 JUNE 2015 491 . 1990). where the shock energy delivered to the rock through the Cartridged emulsion explosives primary reaction zone (PRZ) is calculated and compared for a Emulsion explosives first entered South African underground high-energy cartridged emulsion (RBS 153.35 g/cm3. while detonation pressure and brisance produced in the detonation explosive densities may be as high as 1. Due to the presence of water in the watergel As cartridged explosives possess a coupling ratio of only formulation. matrix. the temperature at time of use. considerable additional labour expenses are incurred. In order to such as guar gum are used to thicken the explosive matrix reduce the sensitivity to allow for the UN Class 5. As a decrease in sensitize the base emulsion to allow for detonation. while the period of time in which high-pressure loading rate of charging equipment. VOD 3600 1980s. ethyl alcohol. 1990). and benefit of the high intimacy between the fuel and oxidizer specific operator practices such as the force applied to tamp phase of an emulsion is that the addition of mechanically or the cartridge and the number of cartridges inserted in a hole chemically induced nitrogen gas bubbles is sufficient to prior to tamping (ISEE. In order to increase the sensitivity of watergel water content than Class 1 cartridged emulsions. As a result of the microscopic size and even distri- face. 1961). Advantages of pumpable emulsions include a pressure. ideal for use in wet mining operations where they are able to displace water within wet blast-holes due to their high initial Cartridged watergel explosives density. the intimacy of One consideration of great significance in the use of the oxidizer and fuel within emulsion explosives is better packaged explosives is the reduction in coupling experienced than in ANFO and slurry explosives. 1998).

and the performance characteristics of the explosive. 1991). While these factors may have the greatest influence on profits within a mining operation. As explosive be reduced through the hydroscopic properties of underground operations and rock types are not all the same. Should only one blast in one the optimal explosive for each operation will differ according hundred fail as a result of poor explosive selection. Given current commodity prices. Figure 2 – Theoretical energy comparison of a fully coupled bulk emulsion charge with a decoupled cartridged emulsion in 36 mm blast. correct equipment selection and operator training is as the direct cost of explosives is negligible when compared of greater importance with unsenzitised pumpable explosives to the financial implications of greater advance rates and systems than with pre-sensitized cartridged explosives. they are often overlooked by production personnel due to lack of awareness. Should an in a loss in advance of only one metre. This can be achieved through the use proposed that for underground narrow-reef operations. facilitating better the use of effective stemming products (Prout. the sensitization of bulk increase in advance is often no more than millimetres in explosives at the blast-face presents a degree of risk in daily length. the timing of the round. In order to reduce the possibility suited explosive should be selected for a blasting application. Cartridged emulsion mass loss is calculated with a coupling ratio of 85% (Pearton. explosives currently available within the South African The use of water-soluble explosives such as ANFO in high narrow-reef mining industry. drilling accuracy. As each of these explosives humidity or wet operations presents the risk of blast failure differs in physical properties and performance characteristics. The importance of advance per blast and blasting rate holes. According to Brinkmann (1994). 2010). factors when applied in the correct manner increase the An additional advantage limited to bulk emulsions and breakout of the toe of the blast-hole and the overall efficiency other non-sensitized liquid explosives systems is the ability of the blast. only a of a single-base blasting agent coupled with a range of small increase in advance is required to justify the use of a specified density sensitizing agents. profitability factors such as the physical properties of explosives also need The previous section discussed the range of commercial to the taken into consideration during the selection process. including the properties of the rock mass. It is evident from the increases the opportunity for equipment failure or poor labour calculation that with an average grade of 6 g/t. the energy within the blast. explosives explosive energy both at the bottom of the hole and selection.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping breaking is arguably the single most crucial and influential area of the mining operation and as such will have the greatest impact on the generation of profits (de Graaf. the three most important considerations in daily blasting operations include the advance achieved per blast. From this calculation it can be seen that the best complete failure of the blast. 1966). improved blast efficiency. 2010). the explosive (Mulke. Pumpable emulsions are thus factors. Cunningham and Wilson (1991) within each blast-hole. production pressure. These three considerations are influenced by geological and environmental conditions. These breakout of the toe and increasing advance rates. 2014) The advance achieved per blast is vital to the success of a mining operation as it is directly responsible for the liberation of payable ore from the solid rock mass (Cunningham and Wilson. and throughout the length of the column. which explosives will be recovered in the first centimetre of would in turn result in undesirable blast results or the advance. of error. and the loss of advance should the sensitivity of the the effect of each on the rock mass will differ. 2010). the cost of practices that could result in insensitive explosive. resulting to the desired set of outcomes for each operation. this the use of bulk explosives systems. the downstream blast. this would represent explosive and round design be chosen without consideration an equivalent loss in advance of one centimetre per panel per for the broader implications of the selection. Through the calculation above it can be seen that the financial implications of the decision could easily exceed the loss of this single centimetre of advance per blast represents cost of explosives for the mining operations. Advance per blast is affected by multiple around the explosive charge. and the degree of overbreak experienced in stoping operations. As downstream a financial loss greater than the cost of explosives for every implications affect almost all activities within the mine. and the demand for direct savings on explosives to meet short-term financial targets (Prout. the fragmentation of ore. The introduction of loaders or charging generated through a single blast on a 30 m production panel equipment necessary for the loading of the blast-face within a gold mining operation. to adjust the density and therefore the energy available Through calculation. rock blast and thus would have justified the use of an explosive at ▲ 492 JUNE 2015 VOLUME 115 The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy . Table I compares the cost of explosives to the revenue blasting operations. As the advance achieved in blasting operations is a The impact of poor explosive selection on mine function of the performance and reliability of an explosive. more expensive explosive in order to improve the general Although significant advantages are available through results of the blast. geological able to concentrate a greater proportion of the available considerations. the initiation system. the quality of drilling and blasting practices. blast design.

powder factor of the blast increases. 50%.1 Gold produced per blast (kg) 0. The most important factors in result of oversize ore in the muck pile include (Prout. Brinkmann (1994) found by ➤ Orepass blockages experimentation that the specific energy within the round had ➤ Maintenance of loading boxes by a significant margin the greatest effect on the size of ➤ Equipment running costs fragmentation achieved in the blast. While the mass and ➤ Efficiency and wear on scrapers VOD of the explosive determine the extent of fracturing ➤ Grizzly maintenance costs surrounding the blast-hole. In determining the required fragment size for a specific mining operation. the geological properties of the rock mass. the quality of ➤ Secondary blasting activities drilling and blasting practices. 2010. impact on the operating costs of the mining operation. Areas of low efficiency and increased expenditure as a tation achieved in blast results.2 Lines 2 Advance (m) 1. 1991). Lindsay. Fragment size is of particular importance for carbonaceous gold reefs on the Witwatersrand due to the detrimental effect of excessive fragmentation on mine call factor. 1994). the timing of the round.8 Tons per blast (t) 97 Mass per face (kg) 96. it is evident that the direct cost of explosives fragmentation is increased operating expenses for is negligible when compared to the financial implications of autogenous mills due to the requirement for additional steel daily blasting operations.22 double the expense in order to prevent the failure of a single Brinkmann.00 Exchange rate (R/$) R 10.20 Cost of explosives R 960 Rand gold price R 413 248 Cost of accessories R 1200 Revenue per blast R 241 006 Total cost of explosives R 2160 Explosives cost as % of revenue 0. and 90% screen pass understanding is required of the effect of fragmentation size rates (Brinkmann 1994). within acceptable limits. rock particles will be accelerated to higher velocities and the size of rock fragments will be further reduced on collision with the excavation walls (Brinkmann. within a mining operation represents a piece of ground that Excessively large fragmentation will similarly have an needs to be drilled and blasted a second time (Brinkmann. Any loss in advance experienced balls (Brinkmann. 1994). This is illustrated in ➤ Crusher throughput and maintenance.6 Cost per kg explosive R 10. and the distribution of mineral- ization in the ore need to be taken into consideration (Brinkmann.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping Table I Comparison of revenue and the direct cost of explosives for a panel (gold mining) Panel length (m) 30 Burden (m) 0. Several case studies have highlighted the severe financial implications that can result from the excessive use Figure 3 – Influence of specific energy on fragment size in blast results of high-energy explosives in such operations (Kruger. the average fragment size produced by the blast will Fragmentation and mine call factor decrease.0 Average grade (g/t) 6. 2010. 1991. 1994) ▲ The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy VOLUME 115 JUNE 2015 493 . where the specific energy per cubic metre is plotted From the above discussion it is clear that a fundamental against fragment size for 10%. Due to the increase in pressure on the profitability of a specific mining operation in order for within the blast. (Brinkmann. logistical considerations. Brinkmann. 2010. 1994). As the 1994).00 Gold price ($ per oz) $ 1260 Cost per fuse R 10. Figure 3.5 Panel height (m) 1.7 Mass per hole (kg) 0.0 (83%) Blast-holes per face 120 Rock density (kg/m3) 2. From his experiments Brinkmann (1994) noted a practical limit to the specific energy that could be applied in an attempt to reduce the maximum fragment size achieved in the blast.9% Cost per ton broken R 22. increasing the efficiency of handling and size As previously discussed regarding the advance per blast. reduction activities downstream. As indicated in Figure 3. only a small reduction in large particle size is experienced for increasing specific energy beyond approximately 8 MJ/m3. the powder factor ➤ Damage to support and blasting barricades within the round. determining the fragmentation within a specific round design Cunningham and Wilson. multiple factors are responsible for the degree of fragmen. 1994). Another repercussion of excessively fine blast. 1994): include the specific energy of the explosive. and the VOD of the selected ➤ Cleaning cycle times explosive (Prout.0 Powder factor (kg/m3) 2. From this.

all 2007/2008 431 in proportion to the level of overbreak. Through overbreak. Despite the continued focus of the explosives and blast designs. As overbreak is largely responsible for the liberation sensitization process also prevents the relocation of of waste.6% per produce a greater strain wave with a shorter period within the annum. ‘If mining width is not controlled the profitability operations is the degree of overbreak. 1994). has become one of the greatest revealed an average overbreak of approximately 18% for motivations behind the increase in Section 54 mine stoppages Dynagel in comparison to approximately 33% for ANFO. 2005). This increases expenses incurred through activities such as tramming. and Harvey. and additional support requirements. on the comparative overbreak experienced through the use of presenting an unacceptable risk to the community. the energy within the round design. Higher VOD explosives can thus be applied As Class 5. Mines. Brinkmann. In an attempt to reduce the extent of crimes shock wave and the volume of high-pressure gases produced committed with commercial explosives. the effect Overbreak and dilution of overbreak on the bottom line of a mining operation is One of the greatest areas of concern in narrow-stope mining significant. Human. Cunningham and Wilson. narrow-reef equipment in such applications is highly implausible. the quality illicit activities. sequential firing of blast. equipment required for their sensitization. 2009/2010 247 2010. As expenses material on the profitability of the mine (Brinkmann. the primary factors Class 5. thereby exceeding the total cost of high-pressure gases into rock strata surrounding the explosives for the panel for the year. 2004. Given the financial implications of fragmentation losses incurred (Pickering. This is a result of gold on the profitability of an operation. 2010. the magnitude of the mining. 2005). thereby limiting 2008/2009 387 potential revenue through reduced gold production (Prout. as evident in Table II. Overbreak results from of the mining operation will suffer’ (Pickering. This equates to a loss in revenue of R815 298 per blast-hole. 1994). police on the theft of explosives and the increase in arrests A study undertaken by Cunningham and Wilson (1991) seen in recent years. resulting in the breakout of Theft of explosives excess rock from the hangingwall (Brinkmann. and the VOD of the selected explosive. under the auspices of the Department of Mineral pressure gases penetrate the hangingwall resulting in the Resources (DMR).info. limited time is available for the penetration of Section 54 per panel. As rock type and geology play a throughout commercial blasting applications in an attempt to significant role in the extent of overbreak. it is essential to being trapped within the larger volume of rock and understand the effect of both excessive fines and oversize concentrate during the beneficiation process. Swart.9 days and over this period three blasts are potentially lost order to prevent overbreak. the penetration of high-pressure gases into the rock mass surrounding the excavation. nature of pumpable emulsions both before and after the 1994). 2010/2011 399 Due to ore processing inefficiencies. As the powder for use in activities such as ATM bombings and illegal factor within a round design increases. As cartridged explosives are pre-sensitized of drilling and blasting practices. 1991). As the (Cunningham and Wilson. excavation. Despite the similar VODs of Dynagel and ANFO explosives.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping the correct explosive and round design to be selected for the gold will in addition result in an increase in the total gold application. This Dynagel and ANFO explosives on a gold mining operation trend. This comparison illustrates average downtime experienced through a Section 54 notice is the importance in controlling the energy within the blast in 3. As the use of this Given their large width-to-height ratio. mine infrastructure is indirectly allocated to the handling and Table II processing of waste rock and the production of gold is Number of ATM bombings per year in South Africa therefore restricted. mucking. experienced in recent years. payable ore is diluted. levels of ATM bombings are still high. the Inspector of within the blast-hole increase. the loss in revenue per notice totals 1. has targeted the control of explosives breakout of the hanging. 1991).1 blasting agents are not explosives until together with lower overall energy and reduced burden sizes sensitized at the face it is not possible for them to be used in in order to control the extent of damage to the hangingwall in criminal activities without the correct components and stoping operations (Lindsay. On detonation. these high. As higher VOD explosives per panel. operations are particularly sensitive to overbreak due to the criminals will continue to use pre-sensitized cartridged additional volume of rock that will be broken out as a result explosives until it is no longer possible to do so. shaft expenses and time Fiscal year Number of ATM bombings limitations.1 cartridged explosives from to be taken into consideration during the selection of mines into the community. 1991). The viscous of only minor levels of overbreak in the hanging (Brinkmann. these factors need prevent the flow of Class 1. they have become the preferred explosive holes. 1994). 2012 and ISS. As One of the greatest factors driving the implementation of with advance and fragmentation. 2011) volume of rock processed to recover a specific quantity of ▲ 494 JUNE 2015 VOLUME 115 The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy . a Should the improper control of a Class 1 explosive on the greater level of overbreak was experienced through the use of operation result in a Section 54 notice being issued to the ANFO as a result of the overcharging of blast-holes mine a significant loss in revenue will be incurred. related to the handling and processing of ore increase and the actual mass of gold extracted in the plant decreases. an increase in the 2011/2012 251 (South Africa.1 blasting agents within South African mining responsible for the degree of overbreak include the energy of operations is the theft of commercial explosives for use in the explosive. decreasing the head grade and increasing all expenses associated with the downstream handling and processing of ore (Prout. and easy to handle.

As production personnel As shown in Figure 4. Rock density (t/m3) 2. For this reason a decision was made to remove the ability of individuals to 1% failure of blasts as % of explosives costs R 2718 106% 1 cm loss in advance as % of explosives costs R 2265 88% adjust the manufacturing parameters of sensitized emulsion in the underground environment.658 of skills and training within the workforce. Figure 4 – Portable pump as implemented in the Rand Uranium narrow- and as such necessitate the allocation and training of a reef trial ▲ The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy VOLUME 115 JUNE 2015 495 . Given the level Gold recovered per blast (kg) 0. All possible risks were to be identified. and multiple fail-safe Loss of revenue – Section 54 modes incorporated into the charging equipment design so as Blasts per year (per panel) 192 to eliminate the possibility of dangerous pumping conditions. The system utilizes re-useable bags to supply daily blasting activities. the ability to ‘manufacture’ explosives in the underground environment is determined almost entirely by the reliability and consistency of the equipment used in charging operations. the narrow-reef emulsion system has are often unaware of the broader implications of their been specifically designed for use in confined stoping decisions.1 oxidizer. 1991). the ability to identify ‘out of spec’ sensitized emulsion in underground operations depends on the ability and training of the pump operator.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping Table III skilled technician with each unit in order to ensure the correct Impact of Section 54 notices on gold mine revenue performance of the charging unit. In order to allow this to take place. the correct application of explosives through Operation of the narrow-reef emulsion system correct drilling and blasting practices is fundamental to the success of any blasting operation. consistent sensitized emulsion on all pumps in use As the disturbance of these gas bubbles would return the throughout the operation. temperature fluctuations and changing air or hydropower Given the implications of explosives selection and the pressure throughout the operation based on both workplace importance of the leveraging effects of explosives as and time of day.6% personnel to check the quality of explosive delivered to each Loss of revenue – blast performance blast-hole during charging operations. discussed above. While it is comparatively simple to guarantee the quality of explosives manufactured at a central production facility.13 accompanied by a trained technician to ensure the quality of Volume per blast (m3) 40. Traditional emulsion charging units previously utilized for the implementation of pumpable emulsions on mechanized underground operations are complex machines. safe operation of Gold price ($ per oz) 1260 Exchange rate R/$ 10. With this in mind. As pumpable emulsions are transported underground as a Class 5. a large Value per panel number of pumps are necessary for the implementation of pumpable emulsions on such operations.2 the pump technology was paramount throughout all Value per blast (R) 271 766 operating conditions and all possible failure modes. it would no longer be possible for skilled Loss in annual revenue per Section 54 (per panel) R 815 298 1. The state of health of a mining operation is determined by the effectiveness of daily drilling and blasting activities on the operation (Cunningham and Wilson. it would again become achieved despite variable operating conditions that included undetonable and impossible to use in illicit activities. The development of new pump technology for tabular mining operations Possibly the greatest challenge faced in the introduction of pumpable emulsion systems to narrow-reef operations is the management of pump technology required for their implementation.6 explosive manufactured at the blast-face. it was essential that the charging equipment delivers consistent and repeatable results such that uniform sensitized emulsion without disturbing the chemically settings applied to all charging equipment would produce induced nitrogen gas bubbles within the sensitized emulsion.7 the reliability of the PCU and its ability to deliver consistent Tons per blast 110 sensitized emulsion without continual calibration were Recovered grade (g/t) 6 deemed essential to the success of the project. significant financial implications often originate in operations.2 longer possible for every portable charging unit (PCU) to be Drilled length (m) 1.2 As technicians were no longer available during daily Lost blasts per section 54 (per panel) 3 charging operations. This outcome needed to be emulsion to its non-explosive state. Given the inflexibility of narrow-reef operations. As a result it is no Panel length (m) 30 Panel height (m) 1. Revenue per year (per panel) (mill) 52.

will vary for different mining operations. the tankers and either stored in a silo on surface or pumped logistical. reducing the shaft time necessary for the utilizes sealed emulsion bags that do not require continuous transportation of explosives and increasing shaft availability. and storage working places. the emulsion is pumped into emulsion mining activities and revenue generation. the utilization of BME’s Closed Emulsion SystemTM also acts to prevent rock charging unit also needs to increase in order to offset the and foreign objects from contaminating the emulsion. Figure 5 illustrates Key to the success of the Closed Emulsion SystemTM is the importance of maximizing the utilization of charging the high stability and long shelf life of BME’s Megapump equipment. and is transport to the blast-face. As the PCU shaft. allowing the emulsion multiple times without damaging the integrity of the system to be used in previously inaccessible areas within emulsion. These BME’s Megapump emulsion is delivered to site in 30 t three areas include the direct costs of explosives. transfer tanks before being pumped into emulsion bags for allowing the pump to be carried by a single operator. In greatest advantages available through the use of the BME order to justify the increase in capital expenditure required PCU is the Closed Emulsion SystemTM used to deliver for the implementation of the pumpable emulsion system. an emulsion to the pump.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping emulsion and sensitizer to the pump. Although costs reducing the risk of damage to the PCU. the downstream implications of the explosive system on daily When applicable. In addition to As the capital and maintenance expenses required for the the considerable saving through the elimination of waste. it is possible for it to be pumped through multiple mining operations. One on the procurement of charging equipment and storage facilities. In addition. initiation systems. The PCU has a weight of only 14 kg. and allow for increased levels of efficiency from the refilling stations and transported into the panel to be throughout the mining cycle. By eliminating the use of polyethylene adequate level of equipment utilization needs to be achieved bags and open containers for the transportation of emulsion in order to offset the costs incurred through the implemen- to the pump. the Closed Emulsion SystemTM is able to tation of the system. only a single operator is required for the operation of pumpable emulsion system the PCU. Distribution of emulsion three broad areas of costs need to be borne in mind. As Megapump can be pumped calculation of the cost curves was obtained from original Figure 5 – Effect of equipment utilization on the overall cost of explosives (calculation excludes explosives waste. capital. and magazine facilities) ▲ 496 JUNE 2015 VOLUME 115 The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy . logistics. implementation of a charging unit increase. emulsion bags can be refilled requirements. and while transferring emulsion into the PCU. the high stability of able to deliver a fixed mass of explosive per blast-hole Megapump emulsion allows for it to be pumped through the through the activation gun on the charging lance. When required. The importance of utilization in the eliminate waste during the refilling of emulsion containers overall cost of the explosives system is illustrated in Figure 5. Manufacturing and maintenance data used in the emulsion formulations. While bulk transfer cassettes for transportation through the shaft before pumpable explosives systems are able to offer a reduction in being transferred into refilling stations at the entrance to the the direct cost of explosives. re-filling by a charging assistant (such as in the case of open The influence of equipment on the feasibility of the tanks). When considering the overall cost of an explosives system. increase in fixed and operating expenditure. initial capital is required for the connected to the PCU for loading the stope face. and through a vertical pipeline to an underground storage facility. and operating expenses for the system.

Under such conditions. 2011. 1999. and WILSON.1 blasting intermediates can be transported African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Cleveland.dynonobel. 2010. 2014. Johannesburg narrow-reef operations with increased levels of flexibility. 1991. Welkom. Brisbane Australia. efficiency. Cleveland. Welkom. Controlled blasting and its impact on profits. CANADIAN INDUSTRIES LIMITED (CIL). Third International Symposium on Rock August 1999. has it been worth the fication has less stringent requirements for legislation and effort? Rescue ‘91. Drilling and Blasting 2010. Montreal. In order to allow for the feasible implementation South Africa. the narrow-reef environment and blasts are limited in size and undertaken only once per day. South is evident that pumpable emulsions are able to provide Africa. Ohio. Choosing explosives and initiating systems for underground explosive into the surrounding rock mass. W. emulsions. From this study it metalliferous mines. A. Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.com traditional charging equipment. International Society of Explosives Engineers. for considerable advantages throughout the transportation MULKE. 2004. 8 June 2010. Rotterdam. 3-7 October 2004. South African Institute of poor. 8 June 2010. 26-31 August 1990. For this reason design of the PCU was optimized on an ongoing basis such that manufac. Ohio. 1996. South Africa. CIL As charging equipment cannot easily be moved within Explosives Division. S. J. Drilling and Blasting 2010. 1999. Arguably the greatest advantage of pumpable emulsions lies in their UN Class 5. Sixth BRINKMANN. D. The bulk nature of pumpable emulsions gives them a South Africa. International Platinum Conference: ‘Platinum Adding Value’. Rescue ‘91: Survival Initiatives for the Mining equipment in the narrow-reef environment will be inherently Industry. Muldersdrift. University of the of the non-explosive classification of the system are evident Witwatersrand.the Challenges. and comparative labour BRINKMANN. Blasters Handbook. Drilling and Blasting 2010. 6th edn. Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Blasting Principles for Open Pit Mining. Netherlands. 8-12 penetration in blasting. Johannesburg. 18th edn. Blasting explosives for narrow reef stoping of gold. but also needed to cost considerably less than Dyno Nobel Inc. . in the prevention of the theft of explosives and the downstream use of commercial explosives in criminal PICKERING. 17th edn. Muldersdrift. of the panel.The application of pumpable emulsions in narrow-reef stoping equipment manufacturers (OEMs). ◆ ▲ The Journal of The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy VOLUME 115 JUNE 2015 497 . H. How environmental and transport regulations References will effect blasting . 1990.R. Johannesburg. Improved explosives technology. This classi. the Witwatersrand and South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. acceptable levels. 1998. a number of improvements in safety and operational efficiency have been KRUGER. R. Conclusion ISEE. 1991. Symposium Series S38. General Design turing and maintenance expenses could be reduced to Concept. pp. South activities. Johannesburg. J. South Africa. Muldersdrift. 1961.C. 2010. University of the Witwatersrand. Blasters Handbook. SVARD. A new gereration Watergel explosive. Explosives. can be pumped through a charging unit will be limited to a range of 1 to 5 t per month.R. 1966. Johannesburg. the system not only Metallurgy.explosives of the future. Thesis. and control that are unavailable or limited through SAFFY. Blast surveys: getting to grips with realities at the rockface. pumpable emulsions are able to increase the of Mining Engineering. the quantity of explosive that Mining and Metallurgy. Explosives – alternative to existing explosives systems within the narrow- What’s New. B.B. for use in narrow-reef mining operations. energy available at the toe of the blast-hole.G. MSc Research Report. Survival Initiatives for the Mining Industry. 1994. Fragblast 1999. South Africa. 1968. Additional advantages of ANBA in small diameter drill holes.G. the utilization of CUNNINGHAM. 29 July 1998. Through use in narrow reef mining operations. with other materials. Blasters Handbook. Southern proposed through the implementation of pumpable African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. C. HUSTRULID. University of the Witwatersrand. 2010. Class 5. depending on the requirements DE GRAAF. Sun City.A. International Society of Explosives Through the comparison of commercial explosives available Engineers. South African number of advantages over pre-packaged explosives systems. 8 June 2010. previously. South control than those applicable to Class 1 explosives. C. allowing African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. LINDSAY. AA Balkema. www. equipment necessary for the transport of explosives throughout the operation. ISEE. South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. J. Johannesburg. as well as the efficiency with which shock energy is transmitted from the PROUT. saving tramming and shaft time as well PICKERING. J. An experimental study of the effects of shock and gas International Symposium for Rock Fragmentation by Blasting.The optimization of mining method and equipment. South African Institute technicians for mechanized equipment as well as the of Mining and Metallurgy. Evaluating the viability of pumpable emulsion explosives for full coupling of the explosive within the blast-hole. Department full coupling. The measurement and analysis of the velocity of detonation and storage of blasting intermediates. University of reef environment. Colloquium:. This efficient use of explosives in short drill holes. 16 June 1991. Colloquium.1 classification. An experimental Investigation of the factors influencing the the use of alternative commercially available explosives.A. University of the increase in performance and efficiency throughout the mining Witwatersrand. Trench blasting with dynamite. Fragmentation by Blasting. Thesis. and JOHANSSON. operation renders pumpable emulsions a financially desirable SPITERI. W. Southern African Institute of Mining and of the narrow-reef emulsion system. Of greatest significance in the use of bulk explosives is the PEARTON. 111–116. R.A. as allowing for longer storage periods underground. Johannesburg. 2006. Trench Blasting Guide.Deep Level Mining . Johannesburg. 1998. R. needed to achieve the technical requirements discussed DYNO NOBEL. Johannesburg. School: and logistics costs include the cost of unit operators and Drilling and Blasting in the Narrow Reefs and their Effect on the Profitability of Gold Mines.B.