The Use Of Explosives In Modern Mining Operations
While blasting occurs in many different industries including construction, road and transportation development and even in the oil and gas industry, it is a critical component in the mining industry.
Traditionally blasting in mining operations has been less controlled than other types of blasting, including demolition or other types of controlled explosions, but that is not the case today. New technology in developing more effective and efficient blasting solutions and explosives has led to better and more accurate control of the blast, fewer challenges with dealing with debris and increased productivity for the strategic and carefully controlled blasting operations.
In virtually all types of mining operations, the go-to use of explosives is in drilling and blasting away at the rock to expose the minerals and deposits that are under the surface of the ground.
Through careful evaluation and seismic study of the underlying soil and rock, modern explosives can deliver a very specific type of blast pattern and sequence, allowing the blast to be specific to the needs of the mining company.
By having an expert on location in both the planning and the actual blasting, it is possible to limit any potential negative impact of the blast, allowing the required rock structures to remain undamaged, limiting the need for additional and man-made support structures, all which take time and money to put in place.
The Choice of Blasting Products
While dynamite was the traditional explosive option, today most blasting operations for mines will use ANFO combinations, or the ammonium nitrate and fuel oil combinations. These can be developed in slurries or emulsions, and they provide a very effective way to structure a controlled blast based on the underlying soil, rock and even water levels and locations in relation to the blast location.
Different choices of explosives will also occur based on the need to blast for a surface mining operation or if the blast is required for an underground mine. For surface mines, the careful placement of the charges based on the type of underlying soil and rock can create a specific shape of pit or open mine. This includes variations on the V pattern to include a more squared bottom to the resulting area or a more pronounced “V” shape.
The technology of blasting continues to develop. With wireless machines and blasting caps, safety continues to improve, with the effectiveness and efficiency of these types of operations now seen as central to the operation of the mine.