BME boosts safety in reactive ground blasting

Doctorr Rakhi Pathak, BME’s senior product manager in BME’s R&D facility at Losberg

Blasting products company BME has developed an emulsion explosive formulation for reactive ground commonly found in iron ore and copper mines.

Ground that contains sulphide has significant risks when using ammonium nitrate explosives.

This includes sulphide-bearing rock in iron ore and copper deposits.

BME’s trademarked Innovex RG product has been used in South African and Zambian mines, with the product containing additives to prevent exothermic reactions to sulphide-containing ground during blasting.

BME senior product manager Rakhi Pathak said the formulation allowed for safer operations.

“We have evolved our emulsion explosives and our testing methodology to deal with the risks posed by reactive ground,” she said.

“This has allowed us to routinely conduct blasting safely under these conditions at various customer sites.”

Pathak said proper management of reactive ground was necessary, however, sulphide-bearing rock could be difficult to identify.

White and yellow salt staining on exposed rock and faces and water vapour emitted from blast holes are common signs of sulphide-bearing rock.

“We are geared up with relevant on-site scientific tools and facilities to screen and test the rock, make the necessary findings on the type of ground being blasted, and recommend the right product,” Pathak said.

“This includes the use of hand-held XRF (X-Ray fluorescent) metal analysers for screening and initial analysis, as well as providing the required testing facilities to quickly and cost-effectively generate results that can guide the correct selection of explosives.”

BME global manager for blasting science Scott Scovira said four controls could ensure safer blasting conditions with reactive ground.

This includes specific risk assessments to identify conditions for blasting, defining site-specific blasting procedures, use of an operations audit and training for personnel to make blasting operations staff and supervisors aware of potential risks.

BME is part of Omnia Group’s mining division, which provides specialised chemical products and services for the mining, agriculture and chemical industries.

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