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Classification and Development in

Grade Control Blasting for Surface Mines


T N Little1

ABSTRACT
The grade control process undertaken at mines aims to maximise the value of the ore (valuable
product) mined and fed downstream for processing or sale. The full range of grade control
activities includes: reserve estimating, drilling/sampling, assaying, modelling, ore block
design, blasting, ore mark out, excavating, stockpiling, processing and reconciling. Over the last
25years, the grade control process has undergone significant improvements and this is in part
due to the developments in grade control blasting. This paper discusses the development and
classification of grade control blasting applications in surface mining. A review by the author
in 1988 (Little and van Rooyen, 1988) is used as a benchmark for discussing the very significant
progress that has been made.
Two major technology initiatives have enabled this development. The first was the development
of a method for the measurement and analysis of total displacement during the blasting process.
Currently, the Blast Movement Monitor (BMM) is a practical tool that has been used around the
world to improve the industrys understanding of three-dimensional blast movement dynamics.
The second technological enabler was the development of electronic detonator systems. The
unique aspects of electronic detonating systems are their higher accuracy and that all detonators
are activated at time zero (initiation). From a grade control blasting perspective these features and
other improvements allow experimentation and, ultimately, more complex, multiobjective blasts
to be designed and implemented.
This paper reports on a classification and review study undertaken by the author. In all, five
selective blasting methods and nine bulk blasting methods are classified and reviewed. Five
important observations are made:
1. there is value in classifying the range of grade control blasting strategies, and the blasting
objective framework presented is helpful in this regard
2. the range of strategies available to designers is increasing
3. as enabling technology develops, so too do the ambitions of blast designers and the expectations
of downstream customers
4. grade control blasting and Mine to Mill concepts are merging, and this paper caters for this
trend using multiple blasting objectives
5. having a technical primary blasting objectives framework, combined with the classification
system presented here, should assist practitioners and stakeholders with lateral thinking in
regards to future technological innovations, grade control blasting and Mine to Mill initiatives.

INTRODUCTION
The grade control process undertaken at mines aims to has also been extended. This evolution is clearly evident
maximise the value of the ore (valuable product) mined and throughout this review and is accommodated by the concept
fed downstream for processing or sale. This definition allows of multiblasting objectives. It is the authors preference that
for the inclusion of Mine to Mill concepts. Figure 1 indicates blastability be defined as the ease of achieving the primary
that all blasting must be undertaken safely, sustainably and blasting objectives. Six technical blasting objectives have
economically. Depending on the type of blasting application been defined in Figure 1 and are now discussed:
and sensitivity of the site location, one or more primary blasting 1. Grade control blasting for grade control blasting, the
objectives can be determined according to the stakeholders primary objective is to achieve the target tonnage and
needs. It should be clear that all blasts considered in this grade from the economic zones.
paper will have, as a minimum, the primary blasting objective 2. Fragmentation control blasting by definition, all blasts
of grade control. fragment the in situ rock mass. For fragmentation control
As this new technology has developed, so has the blasting blasting, the primary blasting objective is to achieve the
communitys vision of what is possible in grade control target post-blast fragmentation distribution.

1. MAusIMM, Director and Principal Consultant, Blasting Geomechanics Pty Ltd, Suite A, 20 Cinnabar Place, Carine WA 6020. Email: trevor.little@bgpl.com.au

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 343
T N LITTLE

FIG 1 Surface mine blasting application showing the six blasting objectives (modified from Little, 2015).

3. Profile control blasting profile control involves using Jiang and Little (1990) developed a knowledge-based system
blasting to create three-dimensional (3D) space in a that selected and designed a grade control blasting approach
previously solid rock. The primary blasting objective is for open pit gold mines. In this paper, the scope has opened
to achieve the design profile (3D shape) for subsequent up to include coal mining and some recently developed and
activities. Profile control in the current context involves more complex blasting techniques. In the next section, grade
ensuring that the excavation perimeter is achieved free control concepts and enabling technology are introduced.
from floor and bench toe.
4. Muck pile control blasting most blasted rock fragments ENABLING PRACTICES AND TECHNOLOGY
end up in what we call a muck pile. For muck pile control
blasting, the primary objective is to achieve the target 3D Grade control practices
muck pile swell, shape and location.
The full range of grade control activities include: reserves,
5. Damage control blasting poor blasting can reduce the drilling and sampling, assaying, preblast modelling, ore
value of the ore feed and the integrity of adjacent wall block design, blasting, post-blast modelling, ore mark out,
rocks. As pit walls have inherent strength and may require excavating, stockpiling, processing and reconciliation.
additional support, safety may be compromised if they This section deals with current grade practices. The
are damaged. Excessive fines can lead to poor recovery estimation of dilution and ore loss that will be incurred in a
and lower-value product. Damage control blasting aims mine is important on many accounts. Not least of these is that
to address these deleterious effects. it is an essential aspect of the JORC Ore Reserve estimation
6. Environmental control blasting airblast, vibration, fumes, code.
dust, flyrock or water pollution can result in blasting
being severely restricted. The primary blasting objective Mining loss and recovery
here is to achieve the agreed blast emission criteria to
The part of the mineral resource above the economic cut-off
ensure that the blasting operation can continue without
grade and marked as ore to be mined and not sent to the mill
further constraints.
or placed in an ore stockpile is termed mining loss. Mining
Some basic blasting objective rules are as follows: recovery is related to mining loss but is expressed as ore
primary blasting objective implies that it needs to be recovered as opposed to material lost. The material lost is
explicitly addressed by the blast design usually considered after dilution has occurred.
a blast may have more than one primary blasting objective
blasting objectives that are not considered to be primary Dilution control
for a particular application are termed secondary Dilution results in the processing of material for which the
all relevant secondary blasting objectives need to be kept revenue generated is less than the targeted economic limit or,
within acceptable levels. in many cases, less than the cost of production. Mines generally
Little and van Rooyen (1988) discussed open pit mine aim to minimise dilution unless profitability can be improved
blasting and coined the term grade control blasting. Grade by taking a less selective approach to mining. Dilution has a
control blasting was defined as blasting techniques or critical role in large open pit mines because these mines are
strategies that are used for ore/waste separation (or high- commonly driven by economies of scale and operate with
grade/low-grade ore separation) or to prevent ore and waste narrow profit margins. If dilution is higher than planned,
mixing. Four selective mining strategies were discussed: profit margins may be eroded. High target production rates
selective paddock blast, bulk paddock blast, selective bench and large-scale equipment may limit the ability of these mines
blast and bulk bench blast. Based on these four methods, to respond to unforeseen dilution problems. The sources

344 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
CLASSIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN GRADE CONTROL BLASTING FOR SURFACE MINES

of dilution are diverse and can be divided into four types grade. Reconciliation is not accounting and should be used as
(Bertinshaw and Lipton, 2007), as shown in Table 1. part of continuous improvement (Weeks, 2014).

The trade-off Enabling technology


Management may decide that it is advantageous to accept Over the last 25 years, the grade control process has
some ore loss or dilution. For a constant selective mining unit undergone significant improvements, and this is due partly
size, accepting more ore loss reduces the dilution and vice to the developments in grade control blasting. Mine to Mill
versa. In general, the higher the value of the ore relative to the thinking and technological advances are the other parts of the
value of the diluents material, the more attractive it will be enhancements equation.
to minimise ore loss and, in doing so, accept higher dilution.
The strategy may change from time to time depending on a Blast design editors
range of factors, including commodity prices, availability of Blast design editors have been in use for over 20 years and
equipment, effectiveness of grade control techniques, orebody are now considered an indispensable component of the blast
variation, mining capacity and mill capacity. The use of actual design practice. The following packages are some of the blast
data to check ore loss and dilution predictions is essential. design editors available in Australia: Blastplan, Datavis DBS,
JKSimBlast, ShotPlus5 and ViewShot.
Cut-off grade
Dilution occurs when material below the economic cut-off Electronic delay detonator
grade (waste) is taken with the ore as part of the mining process. The unique aspects of the electronic delay detonator (EDD)
It is dependent on the style of the geological interpretation systems relate to their higher accuracy and to the fact that
and the method of modelling the mineral resource. For all detonators are activated at time zero (initiation). From a
example, if a stockwork of mineralised veins is interpreted as grade control blasting perspective, these features and others
a series of discreet, very narrow ore zones, dilution for a given allow experimentation and, ultimately, more complex,
mining method will be much higher than if the mineralised multiobjective blasts to be designed and implemented.
veins are modelled as a bulk, low-grade package. Selection of
cut-off grade can contribute to dilution. When a cut-off grade Measurement while drilling
is applied to a deposit, the planner assumes that the grade Measurement while drilling (MWD) techniques were
contacts are definable at any given grade. This is somewhat developed for the oil industry and first utilised in 1911. In the
dangerous as for many deposits, the variability is not just a 1980s, the technique started being transferred to the mining
function of direction and distance but also of grade. Precious- industry (Hendricks, Peck and Scoble 1990). Presently, there
metal deposits are good examples of this effect. For example, are a number of commercial MWD systems available on the
if a cut-off grade of 5 g/t is applied to a deposit, the statistics market. Most of the development is due to the increased
may be are unpredictable at that cut-off grade. However, the computational capability of modern computers. Segui (2001)
deposit may be well-behaved at a 1 g/t cut-off. advocates using this technique in real time as a design aid.

Reconciliation Heave modelling


Reconciliation is the only measure that the mining engineer Modelling of the blast prior to blasting using blast models,
has available for grade control effectiveness. Reconciliation such as son of heave (SOH) (Minchinton and Dare-Bryan,
is used to: increase accuracy of forward planning, improve 2005), assists in verifying design concepts. The output from
knowledge of the orebody, justify better practices and such models is the determination of muck pile profiles and
explain problems. Reconciliation involves the comparison of movement around the blast area perimeter. Such modelling is
predicted tonnes and grade with actual produced tonnes and used to guide the blast design process.

TABLE 1
Sources of dilution and potential controls (modified from Bertinshaw and Lipton, 2007).

Dilution type Description Potential controls


Type 1: Dilution due to This dilution occurs due to the incompatibility between the geometry and operation of the excavation Change the mining method
geometry equipment and the geometry of the ore boundaries. It is related to the size of the excavator bucket, Change mining direction
bench height and the strike and dip of the ore contact. It includes waste material taken at the external Reduce size of mining equipment
boundaries of the orebody and internal waste within zones that are too small to be selectively mined.
Type 2: Dilution due to This dilution occurs due to uncertainty or lack of precision in the sampling and assaying, geological Increase the sampling density
uncertainty in knowledge interpretation or grade estimation. It is inherent in the mineral resource model. It may be reduced by Improve sampling and analytical techniques
of the in situ ore boundaries improved methods or more detailed sampling, but it can never be entirely eliminated. Geological mapping input into ore mark-outs
Type 3: Dilution due to blast This is the mixing of waste that occurs as a result of throw and heave during blasting. It is an expected Reconcile dilution and ore loss
movement consequence of blasting but is difficult to predict due to the large number of variables that control Monitor blast movement
fragmentation and muck pile characteristics. Post-blast dig designs
Change blasting methods
Reduce bench height
Type 4: Dilution due to This dilution occurs at the time of mining and is, in some way, an unintended consequence of Grade control operator training
mining errors mining procedures. It includes inaccurate mark-out due to poor survey control, geotechnical Ore spotting supervision
failures, inaccurate digging (operator error), misdirected trucks and spreading of waste as road- Regular reconciliations
base on pit floors. Experienced careful excavation
Dig direction matched to the geology

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 345
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Blast movement monitoring modelling. It is also developing a range of other simulators for
A number of factors contribute to the magnitude and demonstrating the impact and value of the actual approaches
direction of movement during blasting. Some of these factors selected. In the past, other parties have developed simulators
include: for similar purposes.
blast design parameters (ie powder factor, burden,
spacing, detonation timing, etc) CLASSIFICATION OF SURFACE MINE GRADE
rock mass characteristics CONTROL BLASTING METHODS
boundary conditions (ie choked or free-faced).
The development of the Blast Movement Monitor (BMM) Classification elements
System has enabled large quantities of blast movement data The grade control blasting classification (GCBC) system uses
to be collected that was not previously available. This has three classification elements: the number of different grade
demonstrated that blast movement is highly variable for all geological materials, the orientation of the free face and the
blasts; variation of at least 50 percent either side of the mean number and type of primary blasting objective. The first two
is the best that can be expected (ie if the average movement classification elements are objective physical properties, while
in the body of a blast is 8 m, movement of 4 m and 12 m will the third relates to design objectives.
be common) (Thornton, 2009a, 2009b; La Rosa and Thornton, The classification has the format XG_XF_XXXO.
2011; Hunt and Thornton, 2014; Loeb and Thornton, 2014;
Cocker and Sellers, 2014). The consequence of this is that XG number of different grade geological
the movement at a particular location cant be modelled
accurately, and more direct monitoring locations results in a materials in a blast
more accurate representation of the actual post-blast location In this paper, the term bulk blast is used when two or more
of the ore blocks (Loeb and Thornton, 2014). blocks of materials with different grade categories (eg high-
grade, low-grade, waste) are shot in the same blast. In contrast,
Post-blast modelling the term selective blast is used for a blast containing only one
Two very recent examples of post-blast modelling are worth grade category (eg high-grade ore).
noting. Cocker and Sellers (2014) reported the development The X in the XG can be S or M with the following meanings:
and validation of a model called MetaMove. This is a 3D SG single grade blast
blast movement model using a physics engine to predict
MG more than one grade of material in the blast.
the final resting place of blasted material through calibration
from direct measurement data. The second model described
by Isaaks, Barr and Handayani (2014) is a modelling method
XF orientation of the free face
that entails the generation of a post-blast ore control model A distinction is also made as to the orientation of the free face
(OCM). This contains block grades, preserves the tonnes (F). The three general classes are: horizontal (eg paddock blast),
and metal content seen in the preblast OCM, reproduces the vertical (eg bench blast) and combination (eg subvertical and
post-blast topography, accounts for swell and reproduces horizontal within the same blast).
the characteristic displacement distributions and directions The X in the XF can be H, V, O or A with the following
as seen in the BMM monitoring data. Based on the post-blast meanings:
OCM block grades, new dig lines can be designed that account HF horizontal free face
for the internal mixing and dilution of ore types resulting
VF vertical (or subvertical) free face
from the blast movement. It is fair to say that both approaches
are still under development and validation. OF horizontal or vertical free face (form of short hand)
AF horizontal and vertical free face (complex free face
Radio frequency identification tags conditions).
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags have been used
for tracking assets across many industries and in recent years XXXO number and type of primary blasting
have made their way into different aspects of mining grade objective
control procedures. There are several companies around the While the GCBC system allows up to six primary blasting
world offering systems for applications such as: objectives, but it is generally limited to three. It should be
tracking assay samples clear that the more primary blasting objectives, the more
tracking material through stockpiles complex the design.
tracking ore blocks from the muck pile to the processing The Xs in the XXXO can be any one of the following,
plant. but repetition is not permitted: G grade control,
The technical limitations of the RFID technology make Ffragmentation control, M muck pile control, D damage
it unsuitable for quantifying blast movement (La Rosa control, E environmental control or P profile control.
and Thornton, 2011), but it has value for tracking material Four examples are explained:
through the mining process. To reduce ore loss and dilution,
GO grade control is the only primary blasting objective
RFID systems need to be used in conjunction with other
technologies, such as blast movement monitoring, because GDO grade and damage control are the two concurrent
the mine still needs to get the correct material into the correct primary blasting objectives
truck. GFO grade and fragmentation control are the two
concurrent primary blasting objectives
Simulators GMDO grade, muck pile and damage control are the
Technology is also required to demonstrate blasting concepts three concurrent primary blasting objectives.
and quantify benefits. To this end, CRC ORE has developed If any of the primary objectives is not met, the blast would
an integrated extraction simulator (IES) for cross-discipline be considered a failure.

346 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
CLASSIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN GRADE CONTROL BLASTING FOR SURFACE MINES

Classification of selective blasting for grade energy usually results in the hazard of flyrock along with
other concerns including vibration, airblast or perimeter
control and wall damage. Now, a new blasting method has been
In this paper, selective blasting involves blasting only one developed that can overcome these constraints, allowing the
grade category, be it ore, waste or coal. If waste is being use of blast energies that are several times higher than those
blasted, the grade control objective is to minimise disturbance conventionally used (Table 3).
to the adjacent valuable material (ore or coal) to reduce
any ore loss, dilution or degradation (production of less Selective bench blasting
valuable fines). It should be noted that selective ore blasting
This strategy is similar to selective paddock blasting but
is compatible with Mine to Mill approaches. The five selective
employs a vertical free face. Selective bench blasting was
grade control strategies shown in Figure 2 will be discussed
reviewed (Little and van Rooyen, 1988) and the example given
from left to right.
was that of New Celebration Gold Mine. This method also
has the single and simple blasting objective of grade control.
Selective paddock blasting In Table 4 and Figure 3, an example from the Porphyry Gold
This method was reviewed (Little and van Rooyen, 1988) and Mine (Singer, 1986) was used.
is essentially small-scale, highly selective paddock (or trench)
blasting. It can be applied to high-grade deposits employing Throw blasting
low bench heights. This method has the single and simple
Throw blasting has been used in open cut coal operations
primary blasting objective of grade control (Table 2).
around the world for the past several decades. This method
uses the explosive energy for fragmentation and to place a
Ultra-high intensity blasting large proportion of overburden material into the final spoil
It has long been a goal of blasting to provide enhanced rock position. This can reduce the amount of mechanical handling
fragmentation to improve the productivity of crushing and
grinding circuits. Mine to Mill studies have demonstrated
downstream productivity benefits from modest increases in
powder factor. However, such increases have been limited
by safety and environmental constraints as excessive blast

FIG 2 Selective grade control blasting strategies. FIG 3 Selective bench blasting and digging (after Singer, 1986).

TABLE 2
Classification and characterisation of a selective paddock blast.

Common name Selective paddock blast (trench blast)


Primary blasting objective The primary blasting objective is grade control (minimise dilution and ore loss).
Classification code SG_HF_GO
Description In this type of blast, only one grade category is blasted at a time. The method is a form of paddock blast and employs a horizontal free face. The
blast is used to achieve selective mining of high-grade ore blocks. Selective paddock blasting is a form of trench blasting, and once the ore has
been removed from the trench, the remainder of the waste block is paddock blasted and removed to the waste dump.
Technology Standard drilling and blasting and use of hydraulic excavator for excavation of the ore.
References Pinniger (1984); Little and van Rooyen (1988)

TABLE 3
Classification and characterisation of an ultra-high intensity blast.

Common name Ultra-high intensity blast


Primary blasting objective The two primary blasting objectives are fragmentation control (produce a more valuable raw feed for processing) and grade control (dilution and ore loss).
Classification code SG_HF_GFO
Description In this type of blast, only one grade category (ore) is blasted. This new method involves dual blast layers within a single blast event that is initiated with
electronic blasting systems. An upper blast layer comprising conventional powder factors is initiated first and the broken rock is allowed to fall to rest
before initiation of the lower layer, which comprises ultra-high powder factors and hence considerably higher blast energy. The broken rock from the
earlier-firing upper layer provides an effective buffer to avoid flyrock, enabling powder factors in the range of 25 kg/m3 to be achieved with control.
Technology Electronic delay detonators.
References Brent et al (2013)

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 347
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TABLE 4
Classification and characterisation of a selective bench blast.

Common name Selective bench blast


Primary blasting objective The primary blasting objective is grade control.
Classification code SG_VF_GO
Description In this type of blast, only one grade (ore) category is blasted. This method has been used for shallow dipping (average 25) gold orebodies. In the
application reported by Singer (1986), the orebodies have an extremely hard siliceous nature and are generally visually distinguishable from the
host rock (waste). The mining method is shown in Figure 3. It involves mining the waste to expose the hanging wall area, which is used as the drill
platform to drill to the footwall and blasted and dug separately. The blast free face is subvertical or vertical.
Technology Standard blasting technology is employed.
References Singer (1986); Little and van Rooyen (1988)

of the overburden by excavating equipment such as draglines. Bulk blasting for grade control
Where it can be applied, it is one of the cheapest methods of Bulk blasting involves blasting more than one grade of
uncovering coal. Throw blasting has three primary blasting geomaterials at a time (eg high-grade and low-grade, ore and
objectives: muck pile control (cast benefit), fragmentation waste or overburden and coal). The nine bulk grade control
control (related to rate of uncovering coal) and grade control strategies shown in Figure 4 will be discussed from left to
(dilution and coal loss) (Table 5). right.

Coal blasting Through-seam blasting


Coal blasting has been in use since coal mining began over In principle, through-seam blasting is deck blasting for grade
100 years ago in Australia. It was considered to be outside of control. Through-seam blasting reduces the number of blasts
the scope of the previous paper (Little and van Rooyen, 1988). required compared to conventional blasting. It also increases
Here it is classified as a single grade blast, employing either productivity and allows easier scheduling, increases broken
a paddock blast or bench blast and has two primary blasting stock inventory and improves coal recovery. Table 7 provides
objectives (Table 6). a description and classification for this method.

TABLE 5
Classification and characterisation of a throw blast.

Common name Throw blast (cast blast)


Primary blasting objective Three primary blasting objectives need to be optimised. Muck pile control (cast benefit), fragmentation control (related to rate of uncovering coal)
and grade control (dilution and coal loss).
Classification code SG_VF_MFGO
Description In this type of blast, only one grade category (overburden above top coal seam) is blasted. Throw blasting generally employs high explosive
powder factors and blast timing that favours forward displacement of the muck pile. The overburden is drilled with large-diameter holes, typically
229311 mm, on a correspondingly large pattern. High-energy bulk explosives are used to maximise muck pile throw and fragmentation in the
critical areas for excavation; usually the toe and key cut regions. Care is taken to provide an adequate standoff distance to the top of the underlying
coal seams so as to minimise pulverisation, dilution and movement of the coal into the void.
Technology Electronic delay detonators.
References Sengstock and Kennedy (1995)

TABLE 6
Classification and characterisation of a coal blast.

Common name Coal blast


Primary blasting objective The two primary blasting objectives are grade control (coal loss) and damage control (avoid producing blast-induced coal fines).
Classification code SG_OF_GDO
Description In this type of blast, only one grade category is blasted. Coal blasts generally fire to a horizontal free face and have a low powder factor and blast
timing that limits any displacement of the coal. In terms of grade control blasting, this mode of blasting is often termed stand-up blasting. The
blast patterns used in blasting the coal are smaller, with small-diameter holes in the range of 127254 mm. Often, a separate dedicated drill rig
is used for coal blasting. The coal blast blocks are often smaller than the overlying overburden throw blast block. This may be done for several
reasons, including problems with keeping the coal blastholes open for a sufficient period of time and complications from water ingress into the
blastholes and explosive over fairly short periods of time. This means that two or three separate coal blasts are performed to excavate the coal
from one throw blast block. Overall, it is thus not unusual to have four separate blast events to mine the coal from a single throw blast block. This
method applies to both horizontal and vertical free faces (thick seams).
Technology Standard signal tube delay detonators.
References Wedmaier and Scott (1995); Sengstock and Kennedy (1995)

348 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
CLASSIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN GRADE CONTROL BLASTING FOR SURFACE MINES

as much as possible while providing adequate digging rates.


Table8 provides a description and classification for this method.

Segregation blast
Segregation blasts are a hybrid between a grade control and
muck pile control blast. Table 9 provides classification and
other details for segregation blasting, while Figures 5a to 5d
provide graphical information for a gold mine example.
While this method has some appeal, the two papers on this
FIG 4 Bulk grade control blasting strategies.
topic did not quantify the dilution and ore loss percentages.
Hence, there are indications that this method may not
Bulk paddock blasting provide the required accuracy and is included only for its
Bulk paddock blasting is commonly used for grade control developmental significance.
blasting in gold mines. It has the advantage that large amounts
of broken stock can be contained in the pit, meaning that high Deck blasting (for grade control)
production rates can be achieved. Paddock blasting relies on the Deck blasting has been used for years to avoid weak zones
ground surface for burden relief during the blast. The surface is and cavities in the rock to be blasted and to better distribute
the free face and holes are drilled into it (like development ends the charge in long blastholes. Decks of higher-strength
in underground mines). The aim of this type of blasting is to explosive are also used to target hard band fragmentation.
restrict overall rock mass movement to vertically upwards in The difference here is employing deck loading to achieve
order to maintain the integrity of ore and ore/waste contacts the grade control objective. A deck could be air or stemming

TABLE 7
Description and classification of a trough-seam blast.

Common name Through-seam blasting


Primary blasting objective Three primary blasting objectives need to be optimised: fragmentation control (cast benefit), damage control (coal fines) and grade control
(dilution and coal loss).
Classification MG_HF_GDFO
Description In through-seam blasting, overburden and one or more coal seams are present. The method utilises a horizontal free face. Typically, mines that
employ through-seam blasting have situations of steeply dipping or undulating coal seams. Such situations do not favour conventional strip
mining that employs throw blasting of the overburden since the overburden and coal do not occur in regular layers that can be blasted separately
with conventional blast designs. The essence of through-seam blasting is to drill long blastholes through the various layers of overburden and
coal. In this process, the identification of the location of the coal seams within blastholes is essential. Explosive charging of the blastholes is then
conducted according to the location of the coal seams. Reduced or nil explosive charges are employed where the blastholes intersect the coal
seams in order to reduce damage and disruption of the coal seams.
Technology Blasthole gamma ray logging. Electronic delay detonators are widely used.
References Agdaca, Yukiman and Wibowo (2011)

TABLE 8
Description and classification of a bulk paddock blast.

Common name Bulk paddock blasting


Primary blasting objective Grade control blasting (minimise dilution and ore loss).
Classification MG_HF_GO
Description More than one grade category is blasted in the blast. The blast has the single target grade control blasting objective and utilises a horizontal free face.
Technology Blast Movement Monitor. Post-blast modelling. Signal tube or electronic delay detonators.
References Little and van Rooyen (1988) (Jubilee Gold Mine case study)

TABLE 9
Description and classification of a segregation blast.

Common name Segregation blast


Blasting objective Two primary blasting objectives. Grade control blasting and muck pile control blasting.
Classification MG_HF_GMO
Description In this type of blast, more than one grade category is blasted. The blast has both grade control and muck pile control objectives. Segregation
blasting involves using delay timing and initiation sequence to segregate materials of different grades into submuck piles with a single grade. The
method is applicable to paddock blasting (horizontal free face).
Technology Electronic delay detonators.
References Wagstaff and Scovira (2004); Webber and Scovira (2008)

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 349
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A C

B D

FIG 5 Segregation blast. (A) Preblast drill pattern with grade blocks; (B) blast design timing contours; (C) three
post-blast muck piles; (D) survey contours of the muck piles (source: Wagstaff and Scovira, 2004).

material. Table 10 provides a description and classification for Choke blasting


this method. Table 11 provides a description and classification for choke
When the hole is shot, the slate is poorly fragmented and blasting, while Figure 6 provides a comparison of horizontal
displacement for free-faced and choke (buffered) blasts.
appears in the muck pile in large fragments. This avoids the
Thornton (2009b) compared choke and free face blasting
tendency of slate to salt and pepper the ore when blasted
and found that the only significant difference occurs close to
conventionally. The ore, on the other hand, is fragmented the front face (within two to three burdens). Therefore, for
very well. The technique could be termed ore separation by large production blasts, the face confinement does not have
blasting (Carland, Biggs and Holland, 1990). a significant effect on the overall movement of the muck pile.

TABLE 10
Description and classification of a deck blast.

Common name Deck blasting (for grade control)


Primary blasting objective Decking is used to achieve fragmentation control and with the overall aim to achieve grade control (the leverage is in being able to separate ore
and waste through blasting results).
Classification MG_VF_GFO
Description Ore and waste is blasted together and a vertical free face is utilised. In the case referenced, air decks are used to obtain large fragments in the
visually distinct waste band and the explosive decks above and below the air deck.
Technology Air decking technology.
References Carland, Biggs and Holland (1990)

TABLE 11
Description and classification of a choke blast.

Common name Choke blast (buffer blast)


Primary blasting objective Two primary blasting objectives need to be optimised: grade control and muck pile control.
Classification MG_VF_GMO
Description More than one grade category is blasted in the blast. The blast has the single target grade control blasting objective and utilises a choked vertical
free face. Choke (or buffer) blasting has been used in some surface gold mines around the world to fragment the rock and dilate it sufficiently for
ease of digging. The term choke blasting refers to the fact that the shot is directed towards rock buffer rather than towards a free face. In terms of
grade control, the conventional wisdom is that choke blasts can be used to restrict forward movement when bulk bench blasting.
Technology Blast Movement Monitor. Signal tube delay detonators.
References Preece, Chung and Tidman (1998); Thornton (2009b)

350 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
CLASSIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN GRADE CONTROL BLASTING FOR SURFACE MINES

are two technologies: MWD and EDD. Table 13 provides a


description and classification for this method.
While the proposed blasting strategy is related to ground
condition, the author sees no reason why this approach could
not be applied to grade control. It is apparent to the author
that BMM technology would be beneficial in proving the
asymmetrical blasting strategy in a grade control context and
could be used in the same way as that for bulk bench and
bulk paddock blasts. The advantages of this approach is that
when blasting, there is no real need for uniform blast patterns
and MWD can be incorporated into the blast design process
(Figure 7).

Differential blast
Differential blasting is a term introduced by CRC ORE that
FIG 6 Comparison of horizontal displacement for
describes a broad range of blasting and other activities called
free-faced and buffered blasts (Thornton, 2009b).
Grade Engineering. Some rationale is provided:
Bulk bench blasting taking a system-view to improving feed quality Grade
Engineering is an integrated approach to improving
Bulk bench blasting was reviewed (Little and van Rooyen,
grade understanding and exploiting inherent ore deposit
1988) and the example given was that of Australian
heterogeneity and variability
Consolidated Minerals Westonia Gold Mine. This method
also has the single and simple blasting objective of grade providing critical software tools and methodologies an
control. It involves blasting more than one grade category and IES has been developed for cross-discipline modelling and
then selectively digging the ore blocks after makeup. It is one a range of other simulators for demonstrating impact and
of the most used grade control blasting strategies as it allows value has also been developed
high productivity and is amenable to measuring (BMM) and when combined with sensing and separation, it can drive
modelling the post-ore blocks. A paper by Fitzgerald et al a major business case for change
(2011) also provides an interesting case study using the bulk it is claimed that although Grade Engineering is
bench blasting method. Table 12 provides a description and focused on improving the quality of feed early in the
classification for this method. manufacturing cycle, the concepts and outcomes have a
change agent effect on whole of business optimisation.
Asymmetric blast Table 14 provides a description and classification of the
Segui (2001) proposed a new blasting approach called method based on the CRC ORE case study. Powell and Bye
asymmetric blasting. This method treats non-homogeneous (2009) discuss trends beyond Mine to Mill, in particular
media (rock mass) in a non-homogeneous manner (an energy efficiency and sustainability. Figure 8 demonstrates
asymmetrical pattern) in order to achieve an optimal result (in the massive energy difference between semi-autogenous
terms of muck pile size distribution). Integral to this method grindingball mill and blasting.

TABLE 12
Description and classification of a bulk bench blast.

Common name Bulk bench blasting


Primary blasting objective Grade control blasting (minimise dilution and ore loss)
Classification MG_VF_GO
Description As the code indicates, more than one grade category is blasted in the blast. The blast has the single target grade control blasting objective and
utilises a vertical free face. This is one of the most common grade control blasting techniques.
Technology Blast Movement Monitor. Post-blast modelling. Signal tube or electronic delay detonators.
References Little and van Rooyen (1988); Fitzgerald et al (2011); Cocker and Sellers (2014); Isaaks, Barr and Handayani (2014)

TABLE 13
Description and classification of an asymmetric blast.

Common name Asymmetric blast


Primary blasting objective Two primary blasting objectives need to be optimised: grade control and fragmentation control.
Classification MG_OF_GFO
Description Ore and waste is blasted together. Asymmetric blasts can utilise either horizontal or vertical free faces. Non-uniform patterns can be used in ore
and waste areas. As with the original concept, asymmetrical design can be used for strong and weak waste. This method is very compatible with
differential blasting.
Technology Measurement while drilling. Electronic delay detonator.
References Segui (2001)

11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015 351
T N LITTLE

FIG 7 Role of measurement while drilling in the FIG 8 Energy versus particle size plot (source: CRC ORE website, Dec 2014).
blast design process (after Segui, 2001). orientation of the free face relative to the blasthole axes
(eg vertical or horizontal)
Multilayer multiobjective blasting
selecting the blast shape and sequence (eg blast master
This innovative blasting method combines separate blast
events into a single blast through the use of EDD systems. design, location of ore in blast pattern)
It is considered to be a high-risk/high-return approach. This adjusting burdens, spacing and associated powder
approach relies on a high level of technology and should only factors (eg asymmetric, staggered, square, rectangular,
be considered in partnership with an explosive supplier. even based on MWD, etc)
The technology required to implement such blasts is adjusting the charge distribution within a hole
considerable and is included in Table 15. With regard to (egstemming height, decks or air decks, decoupling,etc)
complexity, the blast depicted in Figure 9 involves four layers explosive confinement (eg stemming plugs, stemming
and three primary blasting objectives: grade control (coal length and type)
recovery), muck pile control (cast benefit) and environmental use of variable-energy explosives (eg diluents, variable
control (vibration). Secondary blasting also needs to be kept density)
within control limits.
exploitation of the dynamics of the blasting process
(eginitiation (timing, direction, sequence) and type)
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
the point(s) of initiation.
Based on this current work, five important observations are
3. As enabling technologies develop, so too do the
made:
ambitions of the blasting community and the expectations
1. There is value in classifying the range of grade control of downstream customers. Over the last 25 years,
blasting strategies, and the blasting objective framework grade control practices have undergone significant
presented here is helpful in this regard. The concept of
improvements. These improvements have been enabled
multiple primary blasting objectives is didactic and does
by technology innovations in the areas of: computing
not need to be confined to grade control application. It
power, software modelling programs, EDDs, MWD
can be used for any blasting application on the surface or
underground. systems, BMM systems, post-blast modelling and
simulator developments.
2. There are an increasing number of strategies and
parameters (limited only by our imagination) at our 4. Grade control blasting and Mine to Mill concepts are
disposal to drive the results of grade control blasting. The merging, and this is catered for by using a multiple blasting
need for them will be dictated by the primary blasting objectives approach. This means that the blasting teams must
objectives and associated targets. Some strategies and be happy to work closely with both the geology (supplier
parameters mentioned in this paper include: stakeholder) and mineral processing teams (customer
selecting the appropriate blasting strategy (eg selective stakeholder). It also strengthens the geometallurgy links.
or bulk blasting) In addition, it is interesting to note that the Mine to Mill

TABLE 14
Description and classification of a differential blast.

Common name Differential blast (based on the example given on website)


Primary blasting objective Two primary blasting objectives need to be optimised: grade control and fragmentation control.
Classification code MG_OF_GFO
Description Ore and waste is blasted together. Differential blasts can utilise either a horizontal or vertical free face. It is likely that both grade control and
fragmentation will always be the primary blasting objectives. For the Mogalakwena Selective Blasting Trial (on the website), the ore was finely
fragmented, low-grade and waste were coarse and selective digging was employed. It is claimed that the method dramatically reduces energy
consumption in milling, and early testing indicates that the trial may have improved the head grade through the mill by as much as 2.5 times.
Technology Electronic delay detonator. Sensing prior to final blast design. Integrated extraction simulator for cross-discipline modelling. Simulators for
demonstrating impact and value.
References Powell and Bye (2009)

352 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015
CLASSIFICATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN GRADE CONTROL BLASTING FOR SURFACE MINES

TABLE 15
Description and classification of a multilayer multiobjective blast.

Common name Multilayer multiobjective blast (StratablastTM)


Primary blasting objective Three primary blasting objectives need to be optimised: grade control (coal recovery), muck pile control (cast benefit) and environmental control
(vibration).
Classification MG_AF_GMEO
Description In this type of blast, two or more geological materials are blasted in a single blast. The free face for the cast cycle is subvertical and is horizontal and
confined for the stand-up blasts. In this innovative and complex blast multiple overburden and coal strata are drilled, loaded with explosives and initiators
and blasted in a single cycle. Each layer is blasted with a unique design and achieves its targeted blast result, which is different from that of the other
layers. Designs in each layer generally differ in explosive type and powder factor, inter-hole and inter-row delays, direction of initiation and initiation time
and position. High throw is achieved in the overburden, while coal losses and pulverisation are reduced, leading to increased coal seam recoveries.
Technology Blasthole gamma ray logging. Heave modelling to guide design. Blast design software. Electronic delay detonators. Measurement of vibration.
References Goswami and Brent (2006).

Brent, G F, Rothery, M D, Dare-Bryan, P C, Hawke, S J, Gomez, R


and Humeres, I, 2013. Ultra-high intensity blasting for improved
ore comminution, in Proceedings Rock Fragmentation by Blasting:
Fragblast 10 (eds: P K Singh and A Sinha), pp 163170 (Taylor and
Francis Group: London).
Carland, R M, Biggs, H G and Holland, D, 1990. Achieving ore-
waste separation by dual-fragmentation blasting, in Proceedings
16th Conference on Explosives and Blasting Technique, pp 423427
(International Society of Explosives Engineers: Cleveland).
Cocker, A and Sellers, E, 2014. Modelling blast movement for grade
control at an open cut gold mine, in Proceedings Ninth International
Mining Geology Conference, pp 377386 (The Australasian Institute
of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
FIG 9 Multilayer multiobjective blast (Goswami and Brent, 2006). Fitzgerald, M, York, S, Cooke, D and Thornton, D, 2011. Blast monitoring
and blast translation case study of a grade improvement project
concept is being extended into the areas of sustainability at the fimiston Pit, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in Proceedings
(energy efficiency and greenhouse gases). Eighth International Mining Geology Conference, pp 285298 (The
Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
5. Having a technical primary blasting objectives framework,
combined with the classification system presented here, Goswami, T and Brent, G F, 2006. StratablastTM a new mining
should assist practitioners and stakeholders with lateral method, in Proceedings 32nd Annual Conference on Explosives and
Blasting Technique (International Society of Explosives Engineers:
thinking in regards to future technological innovations
Cleveland).
and grade control blasting strategies.
Hendricks, C, Peck, J and Scoble, M, 1990. Integrated drill and
A final word of warning: the simplest method that achieves
shovel performance monitoring towards blast optimisation, in
the primary blasting objectives is probably the best. The risk Proceedings Third International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by
of having too many primary blasting objectives should be Blasting: Fragblast 3, pp 920 (The Australasian Institute of Mining
considered carefully. and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
Hunt, T W and Thornton, D, 2014. Modelling vs monitoring blasting
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS movement: the cost of variation, in Proceedings 40th Annual
The author would like to especially thank Dr Darren Thornton Conference on Explosives and Blasting Techniques (International
Society of Explosives Engineers: Cleveland).
for his considerable insights based on blast movement
measurement taken over the years and for his considerable Isaaks, E, Barr, R and Handayani, O, 2014. Modelling blast movement
help and discussion regarding this paper. Dr Ewan Sellers for grade control, in Proceedings Ninth International Mining Geology
Conference, pp 433440 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and
and Dr Dane Blair are also acknowledged for allowing me
Metallurgy: Melbourne).
to bounce ideas off them and for their general support for
this paper. Dr Graham Baird is also acknowledged for his Jiang, J J and Little, T N, 1990. Selection and design of blasting techniques
value-adding proofreading of the final paper. The reviewers, for selective open pit gold mining using knowledge based systems
technology, in Proceedings Third International Symposium on Rock
AusIMM staff and other members of the Conference
Fragmentation by Blasting: Fragblast 3, pp 391398 (The Australasian
Organising Committee are also thanked for their support. Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
Finally, Blasting Geomechanics Pty Ltd is thanked for
La Rosa, D and Thornton, D, 2011. Blast movement modelling
allowing full participation in the conference and time for the
and measurement, in Proceedings 35th APCOM Symposium
author to write and present this paper. (eds: E Y Baafi, R J Kininmonth and I Porter), pp 297310 (The
Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
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354 11TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROCK FRAGMENTATION BY BLASTING / SYDNEY, NSW, 2426 AUGUST 2015