Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
The ability of an explosive to break rock is influenced considerably by the extent of confinement in the blasthole. It is believed that confinement is improved by the use of adequate stemming. The aim of this paper is to present the results of the first and second stages of developing a stemming performance testing rig for small diameter boreholes. The rig was used to compare and contrast the performance of different designs of products. The results showed that different stemming products have differences in terms of their functionality, which can have a major impact on the efficiency of rock breaking. Two test procedures were used, one through the exclusive use of compressed air and the second using a purposebuilt high pressure test rig with small quantities of explosives. Both tests were used to identify and evaluate the ability of various stemming products to resist the escape of explosive gas through the collar of a blasthole. An investigation was done to determine the types of stemming products most commonly used in South African underground hard rock mines, and these products were used during the tests. The first stage of tests using compressed air only did not prove adequate to predict with certainty the pressure behaviour in the borehole of a particular product under high pressure conditions. The purpose-built high pressure test rig also did not prove to be a very effective tool to test stemming products under high pressure conditions. The test rig incorporated only the effect of gas pressure on the stemming product, and excluded the effect of the shock wave. This study therefore proved that to take into account only the gas pressure generated in the blasthole is not sufficient to effectively test stemming product performance.
Keywords : explosive; break rock; confinement; blasthole; stemming performance testing.