Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Simple Do’s and Dont’s for Blasting in Modern Mining
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Simple Do’s and Dont’s for Blasting in Modern Mining

If you sit down with someone who knows nothing at all about commercial mining, and ask whether they think the job is simple or complex, what do you think the answer will be? A few might say it’s not so hard, but the majority will err on the side of complexity. That majority — as those of us who work in the industry well know — is correct. There are so many moving parts, minute calculations, and complex assessments that go into a successful mining operation. Take away any of these essential factors and you’re left with a shot in the dark.

 But like anything complex, mining can (and must) be broken down into smaller tasks. This is the only way to make all the moving parts work together, and achieve the kind of workflow that leads to optimal results.

 The good news is that as we drill down into the specific pieces of a mining operation, we’re able to find more simplicity. It might not seem realistic to write up a list of do’s and don’ts for something as complex and variable as commercial mining — but at the very least, it helps us re-think our strategies and assumptions. It helps us get back to the basics of mining strategy. Let’s take a look:


  • Require sponsorship and stakeholders at all levels from management to blast crew — involving your whole team solidifies strategy and leads to better results

  • Understand needs, KPIs, scope of work, deliverables, resources, timing, and investment — a detailed plan is a successful one

  • Give yourself large enough areas to measure a change — any less may compromise the safety and effectiveness of the blast

  • Shoot side-by-side shots

  • Measure everything — there’s never a good reason to cut corners on measurement

  • Give it a fair go — one shot is not enough

  • Understand your geology and tailor your blast to suit, and;

  • Use electronic timing — Sophisticated blast initiation technology can drastically improve downstream operations and lead to better overall yields at lower costs.


  • Use innacurate timing — electronic timing is safer, more precise, and dramatically more effective in the long run.

  • Mix different initiating systems in the same shot — your results become less predictable and less safe.

  • Continue to overshoot — it’s important to correct your shots with careful adjustments

  • Forget to involve downstream personnel — again, involving the whole team creates cohesion for a safer and more predictable blast phase. What rock do they need at every step?

  • Change only one thing at a time — better results come from careful analysis leading to multiple changes.

  • Be too conservative — you have to trust your working relationships.

  • Cut corners on measurement, tools or effort — these are the backbone of a superior result.

  • Just do it because that was what was done before

  • Skip the change management process — being meticulous and systematic is key.

Keeping it simple

The definition of genius, Einstein once said, is taking the complex and making it simple. Commercial mining may not be rocket science, and it may not be theoretical physics. But it’s not the simplest job in the world either, and success doesn’t happen by chance. Only through detailed analysis, expert planning and cutting-edge technology can we hope to achieve the elegant simplicity that leads to great results.

Sometimes, that means re-thinking how we do things. It means focusing on the most vital aspects of our operations and connecting the dots to every part of the downstream process. The technology behind drill and blast in particular has made huge advances over the past few decades. It’s now possible to plan and execute blasting like never before, with unprecedented benefits in safety and productivity.

But it’s not possible to realise these benefits alone. Higher standards of communication and team involvement, combined with superior technology and analytical standards, are necessary in order to get there. 

This article originally appeared on www.daveybickford.com


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