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New method to obtain optimum pre-splitting design criteria considering

the rock mass properties.


lvaro Gonzlez, Carlos Muoz1, lvaro Andrades
BBS & Technology Management, Orica Mining Services-LATAM

RESUMEN
The pre-split practices is the most used technique in the named controlled blasting. The appropriate
estimations of the pre-split blasting design impact directly in the stability and economics results of the
mine operations. Current methods for pre-split blasting design are based only on intact rocks properties
without consider the structural and geotechnical properties of the rock mass, for that reason the
applicability is quite restricted to rock mass of good quality. In this work a new method, called dynamic
method is presented. The dynamic method utilized a direct measurement to evaluate the real condition
of the rock mass through the in-situ p-waves velocity in the same direction of the pre-split holes line. The
validation of the method proposed was done in 03 open pit mines located in northern Chile. The dynamic
method clearly shows how the fractures frequency and geotechnical quality of rock mass control the
efficiency of pre-splitting and therefore the level of damage induced over slopes and benches.
1.

INTRODUCTION

The pre-split blasting is the most used technique in order to control the induced blast damage into slopes
and benches. This blasting practice is an important element in the slope creation process and the
calculation of the optimal configuration impact directly in the stability and economics results of the mine
operations. Pre-split design obtained with the current methods often move away enough of the practical
reality and it is finally worked on the basis of the technical-economical parameters and the experience of
the professional responsible for the mine planning.
Basically the pre-split practice consist of detonates two simultaneous de-coupled explosives charge spaced
to a S distance, with the objectives of to obtain a pre-split plane that permit to reduce and control the
seismic vibrations from the rock blasting. The detonation of the explosive charges produces a stress that it
is transmitted to the rock massif in form of shock wave and gas pressure. The last one is considered as the
responsible for the creation of the pre-split planes. Figure 1

Correspondingautor

Emailaddress:carlos.munoz@orica.com(CarlosMuozL).

Figure 1 Pre-split plane creation process obtained by detonates two simultaneous (A and B) de-coupled
explosives charge spaced to a S distance into a rock mass.
The most used formula for to obtain the S distance between two de-coupled charges at which the pre-split
plane can be obtained is based on Sanden (1974)

Equation1
Where;
borehole spacing (m)
borehole radius (m)
borehole pressure (Mpa)
tensile strength of intact rock (Mpa)
The borehole pressure can be obtained according to the Chiappetta (2008) (Canadian Method) considering
that gases are expanding adiabatically at the moment of the detonation
Equation2
Where;

borehole pressure (Mpa)


explosive density (gr/cm3)
velocity of detonation (m/s)
explosive charge diameter (mm)
borehole diameter (mm)
Percentage of the total explosive column loaded, expressed as a decimal.

Recently Hustrulid (2007) considered that gases are expanding isothermally and propose the following
expression according to Utah/Niosh Method;

Equation3
Where

and a can be obtained by;

Equation4
Equation5
And Pe, ae, < can be obtained by the following expressions;
Equation6
Where;
explosion pressure (Mpa)
explosive density (gr/cm3)
velocity of detonation (m/s)

Equation7
Where;
specific volume corrected by the co-volume term (l/kg)
explosive specific volume (l/kg)= 1/e

Equation8
Where;
specific volume (l/kg)
explosive length (m) per unit length of hole
borehole diameter (m)
explosive charge diameter (m)
As shown in the Eq.1 the current methods used in pre-splitting design consider only the static tensile
strength of intact rock without consider the structural and geotechnical properties of the rock mass, for
that reason the applicability is quite restricted to rock mass of good quality. Moreover current methods
assume a constant decay of borehole pressure which only decays with the square distance.

In this work, a new method to estimate the spacing of the pre-split holes is presented. This new method
which has been called Dynamic method, was developed based on two important changes applied to the
current methods used in the pre-split design. The dynamic method to pre-split design follows very closely
the work of Hino (1959), which was discovered only recently, to calculate the borehole pressure in
isothermal conditions based upon the co-volume concept introduced by Cook (1958).The way how the
induced stress decay through the rock mass is described by semi-empirical method derived from
theoretical (hydrodynamic) modeling propose by Liu and Katsabanis (1995) and Onederra et al (2004),
which consider that the decay of the borehole pressure depend of a decay factor which relates the
explosives properties, p-wave velocity and dynamic elastic modulus of the rock mass. Hereby structural
and geotechnical properties of the rock mass can be considered. Practical example of the new proposed
methods is included.

2.

DEVELOPMENT OF DYNAMIC METHOD FOR PRE-SPLITING BLASTING

The dynamic method to pre-split design follows the work developed for Liu and Katsabanis (1993) and
Onederra et al (2004). The way how the induced stress decay through the rock mass is described by semiempirical method derived from theoretical (hydrodynamic) modeling which consider that the borehole
pressure decay depend of a decay factor which relates the explosives properties, p-wave velocity and
dynamic elastic modulus of the rock mass, in this form the borehole pressure not only decays with the
square distance as is considered in the current methods.
The pressure decay proposed by Liu and Katsabanis is expressed in the following expression as tangential
stress induced by the borehole pressure related to detonation process

Equation9

Where;

tangential stress transmitted to rock mass (Mpa)


borehole pressure (Mpa)
distance at point of evaluation (m)
borehole diameter (m)
decay pressure factor

As described above the pressure decay factor (Onederra et al., 2004) is a function of rock mass and
explosive properties which is given by:

Where;

decay pressure factor


Dynamic Youngs modulus (GPa)
P-wave velocity (m/s)
velocity of detonation (m/s)

Equation10

The total force acting (product of the action of the energy produced in the explosive detonation) can be
obtained by integrating the tangential induced stress equation with respect to distance r and then
evaluating the integral for r extending from radius a to infinity.

Or
Equation11

The decay factor is a negative number, with a simple substitution it can be written as:

Evaluating between ro y :

Therefore, the total tangential induced stress of a pre-split hole can be written as:
Equation.12
In pre-splitting, a series of closely spaced blast holes are drilled along the pre-split line. The separation
between the centers of the blast holes (the hole spacing) is S. The initiation of the explosives is planned so
that all holes detonate as closely as possible to the same instant in time. This means that all of the blast
holes would be concurrently pressurized to Pb. The result would be that the tangential stress fields induced
by adjacent holes would overlap.
Due to there are two holes detonating at the same time, the total tensile force, is given by:

Equation13

On the other hand, the resisting force of a rock mass subjected to a stress field just before that pre-split
plane is created is given by:

Equation14
Where;
resisting force
borehole spacing (m)
borehole diameter (m)
tensile strength of intact rock (Mpa)
At equilibrium, the driving force will just be matched by the resisting force. Hence,

As = - , we obtain the following expression for the new Dynamic Method proposed

Equation15
Where;
borehole spacing (m)
borehole diameter (m)
borehole pressure (Mpa)
tensile strength of intact rock (Mpa)
decay pressure factor

3.

IN-SITU P-WAVE VELOCITY AND DYNAMIC YOUNGS MODULUS AS ROCK MASS


PROPERTIES IN THE DYNAMIC METHOD

According to Eq.15 the spacing between two pre-split holes depend on the pressure decay factor that is
controlled by P-wave velocity (Vp) and Dynamic Youngs modulus (Ed) as rock mass properties. Cross
holes techniques is used to evaluate the real condition of the rock mass through the propagation of the Vp
in the same direction of the pre-split holes line. This parameter is used to determinate the Ed according to:

Equation16

Where;
dynamics young modulus (Gpa)
rock density (gr/cm3)
P-wave velocity (m/s)
S-wave velocity (m/s)
As Vp can correlated with RQD (%) and therefore with fractures frequency (Zhang, 2005), it is possible to
get an estimation of the degree of fracturing of the rock massif and to evaluated the influence of the
intensity of discontinuities on the pre-splitting design criteria and results. For example Deere et al., 1967
proposed the following relation:

Equation17

Where;
in-situ P-wave velocity (m/s)
Laboratory P-wave velocity (m/s)
The Fig.4 shows the influence that the Vp, for the same rock but with different RQD, have in the
determination of the spacing between pre-split blast holes with 3 different method. It can be appreciated
that the Vp is not considerate in the Canadian and Utah/NIOSH methods, due to the values are constant
for any Vp. The Graphic also shows that for high values of Vp (high RQD values) the Dynamic Method
reduce the spacing between blastholes due to the concept of attenuation induced strength, while for low
Vp (low RQD values) the spacing is reduced too due to higher fracture frequency that affect the decay
factor. Figure 2

Figure 2 Vp influence in the pre-split holes spacing determination with Dynamic Method.
4.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE PROPOSED DYNAMIC METHOD

The proposed Dynamic Method was validated in three open pit mines located in northern Chile (Romeral,
Los Colorados and Candelaria) by means of designing accomplishment. The results obtained were quite
encouraging and show that the dynamic method gives a pre-split spacing that allows being applied in
practical reality. The validation realized demonstrated that the pre-split spacing used which gave good
results and the calculated ones with this method were quite close.
In this work is presented a practical application of the method carried out in Los Colorados Mine
The parameters considered are (Table 1, 2, 3):

Table 1 P-wave velocities obtained for the cross hole technique at the study area.

Table 2 Explosives and rock properties considered.


Considering the equations Eq.1, Eq.2, Eq.3, Eq.10 and Eq.15 we obtain;

Table 3 Pre-split spacing evaluated by Canadian, Utah/Niosh and Dynamic methods.

Figure 3 Pre-split spacing determination with Dynamic Method.


As show in Table 3 current methodologies give values of 1.2 m and 0.9 m, which are too far of the real
value utilized (1.8 m) which gives good result (Image 1). The dynamic methodology gives us spacing
between pre-split holes of 1.9 m, which gave good result by means of designing accomplishment and
stability achieved. If the spacing obtained by the Canadian and Utah/Niosh methods were considered,
damage related to fractures induced and reopening of pre-existent structures can be achieved. Moreover
important additional expenses can be related.Image 1

Image 1 Pre-spitting results at the study area with a spacing S=1.8 m.

CONCLUSIONS
For pre-split design the current methods are based only on intact rocks properties without consider the
structural and geotechnical properties of the rock mass, for that reason the applicability is quite restricted
to rock masses of good quality. Moreover current methods assume a constant decay of borehole pressure
with the only dependence of square distance.
The new method proposed considers the in-situ P-wave velocity (Vp) and Dynamic Youngs modulus
(Ed) as a relevant variables into the borehole pressure decay factor. In this way the local properties of rock
mass are evaluated by cross hole techniques, therefore the spacing of pre-split holes can be obtained for
different geotechnical domains.
The validation realized demonstrated that the pre-split spacing used currently in open pit mines were quite
close that ones calculated by dynamic methods. Therefore the new proposed methods are quite close with
the operative practical reality.

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