Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

Improving blast performance

Jan 2000 Analytical Instrumentation & Environmental Monitoring

Wastage in mining explosives has been significantly reduced through the application of Bryanston-based TLC Software's Transcap data acquisition and analysis software in underground mining applications in particular.

Charles Deacon, Technical Services Manager of Sasol SMX (the explosives division of Sasol Chemical Industries) reports that the use, over the past three years, of the TLC software and geophones to monitor vibration characteristics of underground blasting operations has allowed mining engineers to minimise damaging vibrations in blasting patterns.

The system consists of the use of a simple, user-friendly software package, in conjunction with a laptop computer with PCMCIA acquisition card interface, connected to any suitable voltage-producing hardware. The Transcap configuration analyses detonator performance by quantifying detonator accuracies or inaccuracies when comparing them to nominal timing during the blasting process. Analysis may be carried out immediately with no cumbersome 'downloading' characteristic of other commonly used systems.

"Considerable work has been carried out with Transcap to identify poor blast performance in terms of misfires, out-of-sequence events, underburdening of blast holes and poor accuracy which invariably results in reduced detonator performance," says Deacon. "As a consequence blast designs have been optimised, cutting wastage of detonators, explosives and drillholes." Deacon adds that Transcap is particularly suited to underground analysis because of its significantly faster sampling rate compared to conventional vibration monitoring machines.

"A recent modification to the system, engineered by SMX in conjunction with TLC, has allowed the same equipment to be used as a simple and accurate velocity of detonation (VOD) measurement device," explains Deacon. "Many users judge quality of an explosive from its VOD. Through the use of optic fibre down the hole and throwaway phototransistors at the collar, VODs may be measured at 10 s intervals which is comparable with more expensive dedicated VOD measuring tools. Direct comparisons between the Transcap/optic fibre modification and more conventional devices, have proved the reliability of results."

Deacon affirms that the versatility and reliability of Transcap has made it a valuable piece of equipment in the SMX Technical Services' toolbox - and one of the least expensive.

TLC Software specialises in developing and supplying computer-based engineering solution products to companies for resale and to end-users.

TLC Software

(011) 463 3860

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