Mining Publication: A Case Study Examination of Two Blast Rounds at a Nevada Gold Mine
NIOSH researchers collected basic data from two blast rounds at the SSX-Steer Mine as a component of a larger study on controlled blasting, the goal of which is to reduce injuries from falling rocks in underground mines. Drilling and blasting procedures at the mine were observed. Rock mass property data were collected, a program of seismic monitoring and analysis was conducted, and 3-D laser survey scans of the workings before and after each blast were performed. The geologic data showed that the rock mass quality was characterized as poor to very poor. It was essentially uniform within the panels examined. The recorded seismic data indicated that fill material acted as an effective damper to seismic energy. The pre- and post-blast laser scans showed both over-break and under-break conditions, highlighting the problems associated with blasting a weak rock mass. By comparing the achieved results to the intended design, potential improvements in the drilling and blasting practices can be identified. Comparison of these data with similar data from other mines will help define how various combinations of rock and fill behave during blasting. Through studies such as these, data collection procedures and analysis techniques can be refined. An ultimate goal is to develop blast procedures tied to rock mass characteristics that can minimize damage to rock in the perimeter of the opening, limiting the amount of loose rock and improving the safety of miners.