Improving The Trough Opening Process At Premier Mine Utilizing Electronic Delay Detonators

Möhle, H.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Premier Mine is a large underground diamond mine, situated at Cullinan in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. The mine hoists over 3 millions tons of diamond bearing kimberlite per year, from a modern, mechanized panel retreat block cave mining operation. Troughs sited at the base of the cave are developed into the overlying caved ore, allowing loading access to the ore through draw points. Trough opening is therefore a vital aspect of the mining operation. Most of the production is dependent on fast, reliable and safe trough opening. Successful trough openings are achieved under difficult mining conditions due to restricted void, long up-holes and the inherent properties of kimberlite?soft, elastic rock with a high swell factor. Early in 1998, Premier Mine undertook a joint development project (with an electronic initiation system supplier) to determine whether the use of a fully programmable electronic detonator system would enhance the mining cycle in the trough opening process. Blasting commenced in February 1998, initially with blasts of a similar size and duration to those that had been previously blasted with shock-tube systems, to confirm the operational capabilities of the blasting system. The accuracy, reliability and flexibility of the electronic delay detonators (EDDs) minimized associated risks for re-engineering of the trough opening process. Further, as blast timing was optimized, larger blasts were successfully initiated. To date over 20 troughs have been opened successfully with the use of EDDs. Not only did it take less time to open troughs, but also drilling and blasting operations have been optimized, as well as an overall improvement in safety. This paper details the benefits that EDDs have delivered to Premier Mine in this area. The logic followed is: ?Review of the original trough opening practices ?Re-engineering of the trough opening process ?Implementation of EDDs ?Evaluation of improvements and conclusions.
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