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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

versão On-line ISSN 2411-9717
versão impressa ISSN 0038-223X

J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.110 no.9 Johannesburg Set. 2010




How electronics can release the imagination



G.V.R. Landman

DetNet, 1 Platinum Drive, Long Meadow Business Estate, Modderfontein




It is self-evident that economic pressure demands that today's mines stay ahead and stay competitive. The challenge, however, is to find fresh approaches to the pursuit of efficiency and operational effectiveness. Rather than focusing on individual activities in isolation, a process that can lead to poor investment decisions affecting other critical areas of operation, a key concept is optimization of the whole value-adding process of mining. This concept is often called 'mine to mill'. Whereas it is never easy to establish optimal conditions across a whole mining operation, the quality and consistency of the blasted rock strongly affects all operations. In many instances an inability to control rock breaking has been unchallenged, leading to significant investment in time and money to manage the consequences of poor and/or inconsistent rock breaking. This paper discusses how electronic initiation systems can play a major role in optimizing the whole mining operation. Electronically programmed detonators provide not only the ability to tightly control a key parameter, namely timing, but also the opportunity to extract blast data for a continuous improvement process. The ability to alter predictably, using feedback from the downstream processes, blasting variables such as fragmentation, throw, wall stability, and vibration, is a huge advantage. The current understanding of the effect of timing, accuracy, and scatter on rock fragmentation is reviewed and offers reasons why there is significant progress in controlling blast results. Two case studies are examined, which demonstrate the benefits of the technology on the economics of the operations under review.

Keywords: Blasting, electronic, detonators, mine to mill, blasting timing, continuous improvement, optimization, productivity, electronic initiation systems, mine process optimization



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Address presented at the Annual General Meeting on 11 August 2010

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