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|INTRODUCTION Since the first introduction of explosives into mining operations, safety considerations have prohibited the use of machinery in association with the explosives. Only within the last 25 years has this situation changed appre¬ciably; the closest thing to "machinery" used by a powderman in the "old days" was his wooden tamping stick. With the blackpowder and dynamite used during the first 150 or so years of mining blasts, substituting a drill steel or a metal "spoon" invited serious disaster. With the advent of ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) explosives (1950s) and water-gel explosives (1970s) for underground blasting, machinery started to play a large part in blasting procedures. The lower sensitivity of ANFO and water gels allows these prod¬ucts to be loaded in a variety of safe ways. Not only has this meant cost savings in labor and blasting materials, but it has also resulted in whole new mining concepts where the limitations of dynamite previously made those concepts uneconomical, impossible, or excessively risky. Increasingly (totally for some mines), the traditional tamping stick has given way to a variety of pneumatic machines for loading explosives and blasting agents. The resulting blasting operations have become safer, more efficient, less uncomfortable for personnel, and a major step forward in mining technology. ANFO LOADING EQUIPMENT Three basic types of loaders are used for ANFO explosives, these being the pressure-vessel loaders, Venturi loaders, and combination loaders. Pressure-Vessel ANFO Loaders ANFO consists of prilled ammonium nitrate (porous pellets I to 2 mm in diam) and fuel oil in the appro¬priate 94 to 6% blend. The material is fairly dry, pourable, and easily conveyed by an air stream. One device or system for handling (hole loading) ANFO is the pressure-vessel loader. ANFO is dumped into the vessel or "pot," and the vessel then is pres¬surized. The ANFO is conveyed out of the bottom of the vessel into a semiconductive hose that has been inserted into the blasthole. Fig. 1 illustrates a typical pressure-vessel loader in use. Applications: The use of pressure-vessel loaders is widespread in room-and-pillar mines, including salt, potash, trona, lead, and other rubber-tired mines where the heavy pressure vessels can be mounted on a vehicle for transport from face to face. The vessel often is large enough to hold eight or more 23-kg (50-1b) bags of ANFO, so several faces can be loaded before refilling. Pressure-vessel loaders also are suitable for effec¬tively loading long holes such as those that are 6 m (20|