In a new market, the old ways of doing things are no longer sustainable, especially when it comes to the productivity accelerator of almost anything that digs: explosives.
When cost reduction and productivity is paramount, and explosives count for between 50% and 75% of the drill and blast budget, a blast team’s goal must be to get the most productive work out of every tonne of explosive.
Breaking the rock well means the quantity of explosives required can be reduced, fragmentation can be improved and moving and processing can be more productive.
This kind of result can only be achieved through a tailored best-for-project solution.
Here are six ways a drill and blast team can get the best results from explosives:
- Embrace technology: With the exception of very simple blast projects, innovative electronic initiation systems are far more likely to give optimum results. The advanced software allows for precise timing and targeted muckpile profile shaping to deliver better fragmentation and operational efficiencies.
- Match the explosive to the ground conditions: Explosives must be matched to the material being broken. It is common to let moisture be the driver of product choice; ANFO in dry ground or a denser, weaker and more expensive emulsion blend in wet ground. This is a chemical solution to a physical problem. Using alternative products or loading methods can return the focus to breaking ground as efficiently as possible.
- Have access to a variety of bulk explosive products: No supplier is the best at everything all the time, innovation is continuous and the market leader one year might be surpassed by a competitor the next. To deliver the best service and results, blast teams must not be locked in to any one supplier but rather have a relationship with a number of manufacturers in order to source the most efficient and effective option for the project.
- Avoid the use of standard patterns: It might make designing blasts easy, but it won’t get the best result. Blasts should be optimised to suit the varying needs of the downstream processes. The only purpose of drill and blast is to create efficiencies elsewhere, so simplifying blast designs to the detriment of downstream processes is ‘the tail wagging the dog’.
- Use initiative and improve on the plan as conditions change: No drill and blast design is perfect or able to take every possibility into account and often the conditions found in the field are different to the expectations a plan was built on. Voids, poor collars, failures, weak spots, hard spots – blast crews should identify new opportunities and risks and use their initiative to respond efficiently. A good strategy with no tactical initiative can be as bad as a poor strategy that is perfectly implemented!
- Change KPI mindset: Drill and blast KPIs are often focused on achieving high tonnes loaded and metres drilled per material broken. In fact, if the blast team is really trying to deliver cost efficiencies and productivity improvements, the KPI should be demonstrating a decrease in explosive use and less metres drilled!
So, if you’re in the process of tendering a drill and blast project, it’s worth considering the above as part of the criteria.