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|On 20 December 1983 at 8.40am blast- hole 57 of Blast RN177 prematurely detonated follwed by a violent deflagration of blast- hole 59 at 10.40am. The blastholes were 380mm diameter drilled in black pyritic Mt McRae shale. The blastholes were loaded with ANFO and primed. Blasthole 57 was stemmed and blasthole 59 was not. A poss- ible mechanism which could lead to such a detonation is described. preliminary tests showed the top 5m of a bench had the highest temperature which could not be influenced by a range of treat -ments. Small scale laboratory tests show- ed that zinc oxide (ZnO) and magnesium carbonate (Mg2CO3) inhibited the reaction. A series of tests using AN with and without inhibitors loaded into the collars of blast -holes drilled in the top 6m of the bench and unstemmed is described. An analysis of the time to reaction of the holes loaded with AN against temperature shows that the decomposition of the AN in contact with the black pyritic shale is probably a sulphuric acid catalysed react- ion. All the inhibitors tested can neut- ralise the sulphuric acid in the shale. 10% ZnO appears to be an effective inhibitor of the reaction providing the AN/ZnO (90/10) is kept out of contact with surface material whose temperature can be as high as 60¦C in summer. It is concluded that ANFO/ZnO (90/ 10) should be now tested in stemmed holes.|