In non-ferrous metal mining operations, it is generally necessary to crush and grind the ore to a very fine particle size to effectively liberate the contained mineral from the host rock. Fragmentation by blasting is the first stage of this comminution process. Numerous studies and independent modelling of the Mine to Mill process have demonstrated the potential for significant downstream productivity improvements from improved blast fragmentation. However, safety and environmental constraints associated with the blasting process usually limit the extent to which blast energy or powder factor can be increased.
An effective blasting solution has been identified that enables the safe utilisation of powder factors several times higher than those used conventionally to provide significant improvements in fragmentation. The solution uses a static 'blanket' of broken rock overlying the blast to contain this increased blast energy and control rock movement. To produce this broken layer of rock, the subdrill in each blast is significantly increased to preblast (or precondition) the entire stemming region of subsequent blasts on the next mining bench.
The solution has been evaluated at a large open cut poly-metallic mine in Mexico. Results from the application of this technique have shown significant improvement in run-of-mine fragmentation, with subsequent downstream productivity improvement indicated.
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