Development, Characterization and Application of a Reactive Bulking Agent for Wall Control

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Silva, Guillermo C. O.
Low density explosives , LDE
This research thesis is focussed on the development of a novel low density explosive composition whose main application is wall control in open pit mining. The product has, however, the potential to be used in a variety of applications and rock conditions where customization of the explosive’s energy output is required. Experimental observations on the novel low density explosive showed that the product is capable of initiating and sustaining stable detonations at densities as low as 0.10 g/cm3. Given the extreme low densities at which the novel product maintains its detonating characteristics, it will be appropriate to treat it as a reactive bulking agent, hence its name: Low Density Reactive Agent or LDRA for short. When mixed with standard ANFO prills, the reactive nature of the LDRA ensures a detonable mixture regardless of the final dilution sought or the degree of segregation eventually produced during mixing and loading. If operational constraints are such that a lower energy is required, the LDRA can then be used on a stand‐alone basis, without mixing it with other explosive compositions, such as ANFO or emulsions. The detonation characteristics of the LDRA at a target density of 0.15 g/cm3 were evaluated, with particular effort placed on measuring the detonation and explosion pressures, parameters having the greatest influence on damage. The effects of diameter, confinement and primer on LDRA performance were evaluated through velocity of detonation (VOD) measurements. In addition, VOD experiments were conducted in the LDRA to evaluate the stability of propagation in longer columns, the behaviour in a decking configuration and the ability to initiate and be initiated by a column of ANFO. The low pressure regimes characterizing the LDRA provided the opportunity to investigate the full pressure history of the detonation gases by designing experiments of a non‐destructive nature that allowed the repetition of tests under different loading scenarios. Following the characterization stage, the opportunity to test the LDRA as a damage control tool under a true operational scenario arose at the Chuquicamata Mine, in northern Chile. The project provided important input as to the feasibility of manufacturing the LDRA at a semi‐industrial scale and to evaluate the performance of the product in the large diameter blastholes used at the mine
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