Plasma Blasting Techniques

Kitzinger F,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
The economic climate of the Canadian mining industry forced an increased interest in rapid, continuous excavation techniques for hard rock formations. The potential applications and advantages of continuous mining over the present drill- blast-muck labour intensive cyclical methods are considerable. Noranda investigated an electrical technique, Plasma Blasting showing considerable promise for mining hard rock. The background of the technology and the theory of blasting rock with electricity is described. The Plasma Blasting process is based on the fast discharge of stored electrical energy into a small amount of electrolyte, suitably located in the rock. The electrical energy converts the electrolyte into high pressure plasma, which expands very quickly, thereby, generating a shock wave. This shock wave produces a stress field inside the rock, resulting in a blast similar to that made by chemical explosives, but without the deleterious fumes. Noranda is currently blasting boulders of 4-5 tonnes and is at present constructing a mobile, autonomous secondary rock breaker for underground and open pit applications. Tests on in situ hard rock formations will lead to the development of a continuous mining machine. Production rates of 500 tonnes per man-shift could be obtained with such a machine.
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