The utilization of centralized blasting systems is progressively
becoming a feature of the South African mining industry, owing to
increased pressure from the Department of Mineral Resources
(DMR) to ensure safer blasting conditions. The purpose of a
centralized blasting system (CBS) is to ensure reduced blasting-related
incidents and improve the underground working
environment for the mine’s employees. The brief from Samancor
Western Chrome Mines (WCM) pertaining to this study was to
explore—at a conceptual level–all variables pertaining to the
implementation of the CBS. Studies have indicated that Sasol’s
SafeBlastTM was preferred due to low overall risks and user-friendliness.
Empirical observations, however, indicated that attention
should be given to the current shaft-clearing procedure and to the
installation of additional transformers. This is required to coordinate
the power supply from 2 level to 10 level with the required
supply of the network slave station. A cost analysis indicated that
an electronically initiated CBS will result in a R24 cost increase per
panel, which relates to a mere 1% cost increase per panel. This cost,
in addition to the R1.1 million capital cost, proved to be negligible in
comparison to the possible direct and indirect costs incurred by the
mine in the event of a blasting-related incident. It was found that
Samancor should conduct further studies incorporating the
necessary requirements to ensure a successful transition, while
considering all stakeholders on the mine. This study proved that the
transition to a CBS would ensure safe and efficient blasting at
Samancor’s Mooinooi Mine.
Paper written on project work carried out in partial fulfilment of B. Eng (Mining
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