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The Impact of Blasting

on the Business of Mining


Carlos Orlandi1 & Cameron McKenzie2

INTRODUCTION Figures 1 and 2 were obtained from P&H 4100A shovels,


and the estimated d80 sizes (sieve size through which
The principal mission of the Mining Department is to 80% of material will pass) for the material being
provide to the processing plant a mineral in optimal excavated were estimated to be 150 mm (ore) and 400
condition for its subsequent treatment, either at the lowest mm (waste). Compared with the bucket size of 42 m 3,
cost or at the highest possible production rate, depending these blast fragment sizes seem small, but the data
on the management philosophy of the mining operation. Of clearly shows a difference in terms of bucket fill times,
high importance also are the requirements to minimize the bucket fill factors, and truck load times.
environmental impact, to ensure a strong community The assertion that waste material does not require the
benefit, and to provide a safe and rewarding working same degree of fragmentation as ore may therefore be
environment. only partly true if finer fragmentation in waste leads to
To win the mineral, it is usually necessary to remove lower removal costs and higher removal rates, the
large quantities of waste or low-grade material, the justification for finer blasting in waste material may be
quantities of which are generally much greater than the easier to make. In the data obtained from this study,
quantities of ore being mined and processed. It is diggability (i.e. the tonnes loaded per bucket divided by
common, in the copper mining industry of Chile and Peru, the bucket fill time averaged over the entire blast) is 20
to have a stripping ratio in the order of 3/1; this being to 25% higher in ore than in waste. If the waste could
larger still in the mining of gold, reaching levels be excavated 20 to 25% faster, in line with shovel
approaching 20/1. As far as the operations in the pit are performance in ore, what additional VALUE would this
concerned, the primary cost item then becomes the bring to the total operation?
waste, not the ore, due to the greater quantities and
longer haul distances. It isnt unusual to see the primary
focus directed towards the production of mineral to the
plant, while the extraction of waste attracts insufficient
attention to permit optimization of the total mineral
recovery process. The specific mission of blasting is,
therefore, to pre-condition the rock, either mineral or
waste, for its subsequent treatment in the most
economical way possible for the whole business.
The first step of the comminution process is blasting.
This is nothing more than the application of external
energy for the size reduction of the material. The task
therefore, is to utilize the explosive energy in the most
efficient means, such that all the subsequent processes
can generate the highest possible value to the operation.
In this context, blasting complements the subsequent
crushing and grinding stages of the comminution Figure 1: Comparison of bucket fill times for different
process, since breakage occurring in the pit represents materials.
a reduction in work required in the crushers and grinding
circuits.
When we speak of material pre-conditioning for its
subsequent treatment, the first and obvious
beneficiaries of optimized pre-conditioning are the
excavators and trucks. Well fragmented material
promotes high shovel productivity, reduced truck
loading times, reduced maintenance, and reduced wear
rates on bucket teeth and tray bodies. The data is
difficult to procure, but there is strong evidence
(McKenzie, 2005,) that good fragmentation leads to
reduced bucket-fill times (Figure 2), increased bucket
fill factors (Figure 2), and reduced shovel and truck
maintenance costs, and these benefits apply equally to
both ore and waste. The influence of fragmentation is
perhaps a little surprising when the size of the
excavating equipment is considered the data in

1 Enaex S.A., Chile (corlandi@enaex.cl), chairman organizing committee Fragblast


2 Blastechnology, Australia (Cameron@blastechnology.com)

20 Santiago Chile, May 2006 Fragblast-8


We can summarize in the following way:
An optimized management of the Global Mining
Process The processing plant must tend towards a
maximization of value creation for the business,
allowing a continuous improvement of productivity
and a permanent reduction of operating costs,
through the application of state of the art level
worldwide mining practices.
The necessity of a Global Management Model,
integrating technical information and process
economics, that considers from the Engineering design
and appropriate equipment selection, to the Planning
and Operation activities of the mine.
Definition of an Integrated Mining Plan, that considers all
the unit production processes, from Drill and Blast to the
Processing Plant or in the case of waste material, the
Figure 2: Reduced bucket fill times and increased bucket appropriate dump location.
fill factors in ore (powder factor 350 g/t) compared with Incorporation of Current Technical Designs and the
waste (powder factor 250 g/t), based on several hundred definition of Indices and Metrics of the Process
truckloads for each blast (after McKenzie, 2005). Performance Evaluation, under the focus of creating
value.
Other beneficiaries lie outside the confines of the pit, and Analysis of Parameters and Criteria of Planning and
include the primary crusher and even subsequent milling Operation with modern methodologies such as: Risk
(SAG or AG mills). Studies have demonstrated the Analysis, Failure Mode Analysis, etc.
importance of the creation of micro-fractures in the mineral Use of modern Information Technology, considering the
in facilitating both crushing and grinding (Nielsen & installation of expert systems, with the ability of
Kristiansen, 1996, Eloranta, 2001, Fribla & Orlandi, 2000, performance prediction, process control and reduction of
Paley & Kojovic, 2001, Katsabanis et al, 2003) through the variation of the key aspects
decreasing the work index, and likewise in the increased Permanent Benchmarking
efficiency of leaching through the increased specific
surface area (Fribla et al, 2001). THE OBJECTIVES OF CONVENTIONAL BLASTING

PRODUCTION CHAIN V VALUE CHAIN Cost control...minimize unit costs.

The Mining Process, when considered in its full context, The traditional focus of blasting has been the
consists of many separate stages or sub-processes such minimization of costs immediately related to the process,
as drilling, blasting, loading, hauling, crushing, grinding, including drilling and explosives/accessories. Summarized,
flotation, etc. These sub-processes make up the Production this means:
Chain, and each one of the stages of a chain is needed for Produce a workable muckpile.
the creation of the final product. Each one of these stages Control environmental impacts.
must contribute VALUE to the business. Optimization Minimize blasting cost.
has to consider the value and profitability of the total Avoid collateral damage.
business, and not a focus on each operating unit in an
individualized way. This realization leads us to the Value Under this style of blast management, the bottom line
Chain, and requires a greater knowledge of how the various is/was to minimize the budget without causing operational
sub-processes react to various changes in the nature of the disruptions such as boulders for the shovels, fly-rock, toxic
material being processed. It also requires that we define gases and excessive over-break. This style of
and quantify Value, consistent with the strategic objectives management was perhaps appropriate before we had
of the business and in terms of dollars, at every stage in the available the on-line monitoring systems (e.g. Dispatch)
Production Chain. Each stage of the process must be which now allow us to measure and track in real time the
optimized not for itself, but rather to maximize its instantaneous performance of almost every piece of
contribution of value to the Global Process. machinery in the mine.
Generally in the mining industry, the objective of Often the Drill and Blast responsibilities in a mine are
Operational Management is oriented towards the assigned to engineers recently graduated from
maximization of value, coinciding with maximization of university, and from this convenient position they can
production capacity, based on the optimization of the learn how the mine operates. It has been considered
resources available. It is in the moment of defining the Mine unnecessary to know why or how the rock is broken, or
Plan when it is possible to revise and integrate the external how to achieve a product which has been specifically
parameters with the direct production process. From this tailored to suit the next step in the Process Chain. That
point of view, all that we produce in the various stages of the is, it often appears unimportant that the young blasting
Production Chain are the intermediate products, whose engineer cater to the needs of his down-stream
optimum characteristics and properties must be defined in a customers. The sole interest is to minimize the cost of
clear and quantitative form. To achieve this, the Key the Unit Operation. Likewise, it hasnt been considered
Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be defined. These must that the blast is a client of the drilling, and that the
allow measurement of the grade of success achieved in the quality of the blasting is frequently controlled more by
defined objectives for each stage, identifying the deviations the quality of drilling than by the quality of the
and learning from the errors and defects to achieve explosives. How many mines in our countries (Latin
consistency in the final product. The application of rigorous America) have a quantitative quality control program
methods and up-to-date technologies is an absolute for drilling? How many mines yield, in an appropriate
necessity for the success of these objectives, in particular for form, the geo-technical information of the rock, for
the transfer and the analysis of the information. further knowledge of the rock to be fragmented?

Fragblast-8 Santiago Chile, May 2006 21


THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF BLASTING Today, it is possible through the use of size distribution
measurement tools based on digital images (WipFrag, Split,
Fragmentation...in accordance with FragScan), to assess the blast on a quantitative basis, as
Global Process Performance. opposed to the traditional qualitative and subjective evaluations.

If we consider blasting as an element in the Value Chain,


we must define (or decide between the different clients and
providers of the process) what is the value of the product,
and how can that value be increased by changing how the
blasting is conducted.
Fundamentally, the objective of blasting is to break rock,
thereby rendering it amenable to excavation and removal.
Excluding maintenance issues, the cost to run an excavator
is more or less constant, on a per-hour basis, with costs
controlled by capital depreciation, labor, servicing, and
energy costs. But the cost per tonne of material excavated
will also depend on how many tonnes of material can be
excavated per hour of operation, and it is here that the
efficiency and intensity of blasting affects the Value of the
process.

Figure 4: Effect of the primary crusher on soft ore (left) and


hard ore(right).

THE PRINCIPAL BLASTING CONSTRAINT


Figure 3: Cost minimization curve v Value maximization
curve, as a function of the intensity of blasting (powder Control of Slopes... for the guarantee of safety
factor), after McKenzie, 2005. and the viability of the Project

Rather than striving to achieve the cheapest tonne Fragmentation and breakage are the obvious, and designed
broken, one can focus on the tonne that is the most outcomes of blasting. But breakage is not restricted to the zone
economical, or the fastest tonne (i.e. the tonne of material of rock in front of a blasthole. The same process which causes
that is most quickly loaded, most quickly hauled, most fragmentation also causes damage behind the last row of
quickly crushed and most quickly passes through the blastholes, and this can impact on the stability of pit walls, and
grinding circuit), Figure 3. This will be the tonne that the safety of personnel and equipment working in the pit. Even
complies with all the requirements of the Global Process, single bench rock falls and failures can cause equipment
since it will produce higher productivity for the same capital damage, or injury and death to workers.
expenditure. The qualities of this tonne of broken rock will Using practical engineering tools and models, it is
be different for waste and for mineral, and as we are possible to quantify the negative impact of the blast, and in
seeing, for different types of mineral as well. A process doing so quantify the success of the blast in terms of
model combining blasting, loading, hauling and crushing geotechnical stability and safety. Today there exists a wide
operations (Figure 3) highlights two important issues. range of instruments that permit the accurate assessment
Firstly, the average powder factor required to maximize of changes in rock quality and slope stability, thereby
Value is significantly higher than that required to minimize allowing confirmation of, or adjustment to, the slope design
costs. Secondly, the slope of both curves is steeper before criteria or Risk Assessment programs.
the turning points than after, highlighting that the penalties
associated with under-blasting are greater than those
associated with over-blasting. But how many mine
operators and mine managers prefer to err on the side of
over-blasting than on the side of under-blasting?
After only a preliminary analysis, it is clear that delivering
the optimum feed to the grinding mills requires close liaison
and communication between blasting engineers and
primary crusher operators. Figure 4 shows the effect of the
primary crusher on changing the size distribution of blasted
material presented to the SAG mill for a soft ore, and a hard
ore. Significant size reduction (and value adding) occurs
with hard ore, but little size reduction (and value adding)
occurs in the crusher when processing soft ore. Blasting
may be the only opportunity to effectively pre-condition soft
ores, whereas the crusher can complement the blasting for
hard ores. It becomes immediately apparent that blasting
and crushing need to be coordinated, and it may be
difficult for a crusher to simultaneously process two Figure 5: Excellent quality smooth walls in Chilean copper
completely different ore types. mine, in heavily structured material.

22 Santiago Chile, May 2006 Fragblast-8


Figure 5 highlights what we believe is a false paradigm in IMPACT OF A BLAST: SUMMARY
porphyry copper type mines, typical in this part of the world.
There are two primary factors explaining the commonly heard In Mineral:
adage in this mine it isnt possible to have clean walls and The Explosive provides the most economic energy for the
half barrels..... The first is a lack of understanding about the fragmentation of the rock
technical issues controlling the effectiveness of smooth wall The blast is the most efficient stage of the Comminution
blasting. The second is an absence of a Value Model which Process, from both the technical and economical points
quantifies the benefits of clean and stable walls, and which of view (in value contribution)
permits a clear decision on appropriate expenditure to Blasting philosophies should be matched to rock
achieve the required results. How do we calculate the VALUE characteristics. Finer is not always better, and modeling
of clean safe walls with minimal deterioration of in-situ rock has advanced to a stage where it can provide very clear
strength? When cleaner walls allow steeper walls, the value directions for identifying optimum rock-specific blasting
is easy to calculate and the dollar figure is large, so this strategies.
catches the eye of most managers. When cleaner walls mean There is now compelling evidence that more intensive
safer conditions, it is much more difficult to attach a dollar blasting improves processes such as leaching, not only
value so we dont usually try, and we generally focus instead by producing finer material, but also through the
on finding ways to produce final walls at minimal cost, which increased generation of micro-fractures which further
meet the approval of regulatory bodies. Once a decision is increase the available surface area for the chemical
made as regards design slope angle, we quickly forget the reactions to occur.
assumptions of minimal disturbance to rock strength which Compelling evidence of the powerful leveraging effect of
are inherent in the pit slope design calculations, and almost optimized blasting on loading, hauling, crushing,
never conduct measurements to confirm those assumptions. grinding, and maintenance costs, the benefits from which
What is the VALUE of reducing the probability of failure by are likely to far outweigh the additional costs.
30%, when pit slope angle has already been decided? What
operations even MEASURE the degree and extent of damage In Waste:
induced in pit walls? In the majority of the mine sites, more waste material is
Most smooth wall blast design philosophies address vibration moved than mineral, and a proportionally large fraction of
control, with the implicit assertion that reducing vibration levels mining costs are associated with waste removal.
in the pit walls will reduce the extent of blast-induced fracturing, Better blasting in waste allows increased loading rates,
and the probability of block dislodgement (e.g. wedge failures, reduced hauling costs, a faster exposure of ore, and a
planar failures). Many articles have been written demonstrating greater resource allocation to ore handling.
the effectiveness of vibration reduction in the control of damage, We should consider the impact of the fragmentation and
suggesting that this is an area worthy of attention and muckpile swell on the costs of equipment maintenance.
measurement as a means of Quality Assurance. There is There are certain psychological effects as well: A shovel
tantalizing evidence that we can quite easily detect fresh operator will take more time to load a truck if the size of
fracturing and fracture dilation occurring at any point behind the material can potentially damage the truck if loaded
blasts (McKenzie & Holley, 2004) and in this manner quantify the too quickly, that is letting the material drop without great
shape of damage profiles and estimate critical vibration levels care for the truck tray, so that fragmentation may also
which initiate either fresh fracturing or fracture dilation. This then affect the bucket discharge time, not just the bucket fill
permits 3 dimensional modeling of vibration in the zone behind time.
blasts, incorporating the effects of pattern geometry, explosive There will be a limit as regards fragmentation in waste
distribution, delay timing, delay accuracy and initiation if blasted too fine, the additional blasting costs are not
sequence, from which damage probability curves (i.e. the recovered by reduced load and haul costs.
probability of exceeding critical vibration levels) can be The cost/benefit curves suggest that the risks associated
established for any proposed smooth wall blast design (Figure with under-blasting are significantly greater than the risks
6). This appears to be a powerful tool which permits a very associated with over-blasting.
comprehensive comparison to be made between various wall
blasting options as regards the effectiveness of vibration control In the Safety and Viability of the Mining Project:
and the degree and extent of likely damage. But the basis for With carefully controlled smooth blasting, it is possible to
selection of the most appropriate design remains that of cost, maximize pit slope angles, minimizing the effective strip
because we are unable to determine the different VALUES that ratio and improving the economic parameters of the
the various options bring to the Global Process. The cost factor investment.
may be overriding safety! With effective smooth blasting it is possible to obtain
clean and safe walls for both personnel and equipment,
minimizing the risk of injury/damage.
The probability of wall failure can be reduced by more
effective smooth wall blasting, though the VALUE of the
reduced probability can not yet be translated into a dollar
figure.

The impact of the blast in creating value remains clear if


we define this Unit Operation (Orlandi 2001) in the
Corporate Mission as: ...Pre-conditioning of the rock for its
subsequent treatment..... In this way, we must clearly
identify the subsequent processes in the Production Chain
for the material that we are going to blast, establishing
indicators of specific achievement for both the waste and
the ore. It isnt the Drill and Blast Engineer who determines
Figure 6: Probability of damage as a function of distance the characteristics that the blast product (that is the
behind back row of blastholes, for 2 different smooth wall resulting muckpile) must have, but rather his/her
blast designs (model results). customers.

Fragblast-8 Santiago Chile, May 2006 23


The optimum fragment size distribution will be different in which management cling to inherited paradigms such as
for the mineral that goes to the plant, and for the waste that a powder factors greater than 0.6 kg/m3 is simply wasting
goes to the dumps. The size distribution required for the money. In many operations, a strong management focus
mineral will be also dependent on the type of processing, is directed towards ensuring that the powder factor for each
and/or the crushing and grinding equipment, and must be blast lies below an almost-arbitrary budget limit prepared
established for each respective customer, for each different without prior consultation with the rock.
mineral type and grade. The potential for, and expectation of, more precise
For the ore, it is relatively clear how to define the optimum control over blasting outcomes has spawned
product size distribution, even though few operations have technological innovation in blasting to the point where the
prepared this specification. However the definition of availability of increasingly sophisticated technologies
optimum waste characteristics to optimize excavation and obliges a more profound characterization of the material
transport, has not been clear in practice, in spite of the to be blasted, as well as quantitative assessment of
larger quantity of waste that usually is moved in open cut blasting outcomes. A rock mass is naturally a non-
mining. This says we know more about what the Mill homogeneous and anisotropic medium, and its physical
Customer expects than we know about what the and mechanical properties usually vary throughout an
Shovel/Truck Customer expects. The relationship between ore-body, significantly influencing blasting results in
muckpile characteristics and shovel productivity remains different geological domains. The use of appropriate tools
largely unexplored. is therefore required in order to quantitatively describe the
relevant parameters of the rock that is to be submitted to
OPPORTUNITY the energetic and dynamic charge detonation. A reliable
and comprehensive blasting index of the rock is
To maximize the benefits that the blast can contribute to needed, that is subject to current state of the art
the production chain, adding value to the blast product investigations in Blasting Engineering. Drilling provides an
obvious opportunity to capture crucial information about
The opportunities to maximize benefits to the Global the rock and its response during blasting, with the
Operation by more effective blasting must be embraced by promise of allowing adjustment of the energy distribution
those responsible for the Management of the Business. during blasthole charging, though the goal continues to
They must report to the owners or shareholders on the elude us.
contribution of this process to total value, rather than on the To extract the maximum benefit from the use of electronic
technical or economic result of the unit process. It is their initiation, for example, requires knowledge of what is being
responsibility to develop the mathematical-functional model called the Mechanical-Acoustic Model that considers
of the process, with the appropriate performance indicators non-traditional parameters in our blast design
that demonstrate the success (additional value) of the deliberations such as:
optimum balance. 1. Average size of the insitu blocks and their distribution or
The principal direct impacts of a blast are shown as dispersion;
follows: 2. Orientation of the discontinuities
The blast adds value if: 3. Acoustic impedance of the material
It allows an increase in the Processing Capacity of the
Mill, the value of which exceeds the associated additional The principal tools at our disposal to vary and tailor the
costs (increased profitability of recovery). results of blasting to match client specifications or
- high crusher productivity; expectations are:
- high mill throughput; Adjusting Powder Factors
- low maintenance costs; Adjusting the Distribution of the Charges
The pit wall design slopes are achieved. Optimization of the Explosive Confinement:
Operational safety is enhanced. - Stemming Reinforcement
- Aggregate (crushed material, gravel)
The Blast reduces value if: Use of Variable Energy Explosives
It causes a decrease in the Processing Capacity of the - Aluminum
Mill, the value of which exceeds the associated cost - Nitroparaffins (Comsol, NP-SERA)
savings (decreased profitability of recovery). - High VOD Explosives
- reduced crusher productivity; - Oxygenation
- reduced mill throughput; - Variable density
- high maintenance and repair costs; - Micro-spheres
The pit wall design slopes are not achieved. - Hybrids
Operational safety is reduced. - Diluents
Environmental impact is increased. - Air decks
Exploitation of the Dynamics of the Blasting Process
THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY - Initiation (timing, direction, sequence)
- Systems of Precise Initiation
The primary tool used to estimate the likely outcome from Computer models for Design, Analysis and Blast
a blast has traditionally been the simple powder factor Simulation, such as QED Plus from Austin Powder,
(quantity of explosive per tonne or cubic meter of material). widely used in Chile, and JKSimBlast, from the Australian
Combined with years of hard-earned experience and Institute, JKRMC.
consistent geology, this simple parameter frequently
provided quite reliable predictions of blasting outcomes.
Today, it is rare to find consistent geology, and in many THE PRODUCTION CHAIN... IS A PROCESS
operations rare to find blasting engineers with more than a OF TRANSFORMATION OF ENERGY
few years of experience. Further, we are expected today to
have a much greater degree of control over costs and An economic focus on the Mining Production Chain
machinery performance. Despite this, the humble powder shows us that this is a Process of Energy Transformation,
factor still carries an inordinate weight in many operations, applied as a process of pre-conditioning via the reduction

24 Santiago Chile, May 2006 Fragblast-8


of material size and incorporation of micro-fractures, for its reached the designed bench line, even if it can easily
later physical and chemical treatment. That is to say, its remove more material? Carry out buffer blasts or pre-
transformation into a commercial product. splitting in small diameters even if the available
The sources of energy are basically explosives, and equipment has larger diameters and is more efficient? A
electricity either generated in thermo-electric plants short term decision, such as complying with the daily
(petroleum, carbon, natural gas) or bought from public extraction goals, can sometimes prevail over the longer
networks. The understanding of the Energy Balance of the term interests, such as the slope quality and its impact on
global process is a powerful management tool. Various the bottom line of the Statement of Results of the
publications show that the proportion of the cost of energy company.
necessary to induce a change of similar proportions This, although it may be a trivial problem, is a complex
through explosives, in the mine, crusher and grinder is in situation. A change that can seem technically obvious is
the order of 1 / (4-6) / (8-12), for a wide range of types of often in reality impractical if it wasnt foreseen and
rock and industrial equipment. addressed appropriately in the Mining Plan. It isnt always
This indicates that the blast is the most efficient step in possible to acquire or contract additional equipment,
the comminution process. In any case, we need to know such as drills with a smaller diameter, loaders to clean the
more, however we cant import the knowledge or walls or backhoes to clean the crests. There also exist
experience from other environments, other rock, other contract type restrictions such as the productivity
equipment, and other circumstances. We need to generate bonuses of the equipment operators, which generally
it from our own mines and situations. dont consider work quality indexes, but rather only
In an established operation it isnt easy to determine the production volume. These are, in short, perverse
optimum relations between the different unit operations. In incentives that can have complex negative impacts on the
spite of the existence of specialized instrumentation and optimization of the business.
platforms of communication for gathering on-line, real time Generally speaking, there is limited knowledge in the
performance data from equipment, we frequently give little mining industry of the physical fundamentals of the daily
priority to the task of transforming this data into useful phenomena that we confront. Few professionals make
information for the Management Team. decisions with regard to knowing or referring to themes
The work methodology that can assist us to advance in such as wave propagation or fracture theory. There is a
the understanding of our Global Process, and the impact of tendency to regard specific experiences as representing
each one of our own activities in incorporating value is inexplicable departures from the universal concepts of
based on Groups of Continuous Improvement. In this physics, without considering the characteristics of each
respect, there have been various successful experiences in case. In our mine things are different... is the excuse in
Chile, that have assisted the respective mining companies many cases, to evade the responsibility of investigating
to be leaders on a world level in the mining of copper. and understanding the problem.
The authors are sure that there doesnt exist an It is clear that it is not always possible in practical terms
appropriate way to incorporate technologies of the latest to apply sophisticated concepts as useful tools to the
generation for the improvement of our business, without management of a business. However, on the other side,
previously assuring that we have the resources to extract neither is it possible to bend the Laws of Mother Nature.
the benefits of the new technology. Why purchase a new The way that we see, in the short term at least, is to
on-line data system, if we dont have the resources, establish cause and effect relations between the
commitment, or tools to utilize the new information? We parameters that we have the capacity of measuring and
should be able to anticipate the benefits to the Value Chain adjusting in the operation and relate these to the measured
and the Improvement Cycle, and clearly define the and predicted results. The current information systems and
requirements for the new technologies and support data administration systems should have the capacity to
systems. allow a complex analysis of the variables of the mining
process as a whole. Importantly, we must learn to use the
THE IMPROVEMENT CYCLE data we are constantly gathering (e.g. Dispatch High
Precision Data), and to transform the data into information
In the administration of a Continuous Improvement Group upon which decisions can be made by use of Process
in a mine, where it is assumed the blast is the process Models. The application of statistical tools, together with the
initiator, it is fundamental to highlight the idea of ability of computational simulation should allow the
negotiating the objectives expected of the blast between integration of the majority of the unit operations into a
its different clients. These departments are principally: complex but useful network.
Planning, Geology, Geo-technic, Operations and Plant. The Today we have the use of innumerable support tools,
requirements of these clients are sometimes conflicting, but instruments and software, to model our process and the
we must search for the optimum for the global operation, power to incorporate these sophisticated procedures of
not that of the client with the most power or influence in the analysis and control, with support systems of the latest
organizational structure. information technology (Risk Analysis, Failure Mode
For example, the demand for meters drilled will not Analysis, Tendencies/Trends Analysis of Active Parameters
guarantee a good location of the hole, the precision of its of the Process, Systems for Fragmentation Assessment
angle or its correct depth. There seems to be little through Photo-analysis, Registry Systems of Equipment
awareness of the importance of Quality Control in drilling in Vital Data, Simulation of the Blasting Process Systems,
achieving the expected result of a blast, and many Systems of Structural Mapping in 3D; etc.)
operations immediately focus on the explosive as the Our challenge is to develop an Expert System,
guilty party when results are unfavorable. It is very combining artificial intelligence and our knowledge, that
common to observe that the factor having the greatest will allow control of our Mining Process (Mine Plant
impact on blasting results is the quality of the design Market), to achieve the maximization of the value
implementation and drill plan rather than the explosive itself incorporation as a product of management excellence.
(type of explosive, powder factor). The pre-requisite step will be to learn certain techniques
In an analogous form, the success of slope control is such as fuzzy logic and neural networks so as to
frequently related to the inefficiencies of the Production improve our knowledge of the phenomenology of the
Equipment. Stop the extraction because the shovel processes themselves.

Fragblast-8 Santiago Chile, May 2006 25


SUMMARY REFERENCES

The Blast, as the first stage of the rock comminution Eloranta, J., 2001. Improve Milling Through Better
process, has the mission of pre-conditioning, or Powder Distribution, Proc 27th Annual Conf. ISEE,
preparing, the rock for its subsequent processing, in Orlando, USA Jan 28-31, pp 55-63.
order to obtain a commercial product in the most Fribla, M., Orlandi, C., 2000. Effects on Economics in the
economic way possible. process of optimization of the specific load of explosive
It is necessary to know (=quantify) the impact of blasting and its relation with the micro-fractures generated
on the processes of loading, hauling, crushing, and through Blasting, 2nd Jornadas de Tronadura ASIEX
grinding, as well as in the movement of waste material 2000.
(productivity of extraction equipment and transport). Fribla, M., Navea, D., Orlandi, C., 2001. Micro-fracturing
Today, we know too, that we can impact on aspects such Produced by the Explosive and the Increase of the
as the efficiency of leaching, using appropriate Dissolution of Metal in an Oxidized Copper Ore, 3rd
explosives and systems of high precision initiation Jornadas de Tronadura ASIEX 2001.
It is necessary to define the relevant Key Performance Katsabanis, P.D, Gregersen, S., Pelley, C, and Kelebec,
Indicators of the mining process: fragmentation (size S., 2003. Small Scale Study of Damage Due to Blasting
distribution), pre-conditioning (reduction of the Work and Implications on Crushing and Grinding, Proc 29th
Index), swell of the muckpile, damage to the walls, Annual Conf. ISEE, Nashville, USA, Feb 02-05, pp 355-
dilution, energy consumption, and impact on the 364.
environment and personnel, e.g. dust) McKenzie, C.K., 2005. Blasting A Focus on Value,
A system of measurement should be implanted to ASIEX Conference 2005, Via del Mar, Chile, May 25-27.
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the VALUE of improved pit wall stability, and reduced Orlandi, C.P., 2001. Precise Initiation, Blasting for Open Cut
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26 Santiago Chile, May 2006 Fragblast-8