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International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216

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Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences
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Effect of double-primer placement on rock fracture and ore recovery

Z.X. Zhang
Department of Arctic Technology, The University Centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway

art ic l e i nf o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The double-primer placement is based on the principle of shock wave collision. When two shock waves
Received 19 October 2013 meet each other, the final pressure is greater than the sum of the initial two pressures. Stress analysis
Received in revised form indicates that this should be favorable to rock fracture and fragmentation in blasting. This double-primer
20 March 2014
placement was tested in Malmberget mine by using electronic detonators, aiming to improve rock
Accepted 21 March 2014
fragmentation. At the same time, another method, named DRB (Dividing Ring Blasting), was tested, too.
Two production drifts in an ore body were taken as test drifts. In each test drift both methods were tried.
Keywords: For comparison, two nearest production drifts to the test drifts were taken as reference drifts. The results
Blasting showed that on average the double-primer placement recovered more iron ore than either the DRB
Rock fracture
method or the ordinary method used in the reference drifts. In addition, fragmentation looked much
Primer placement
finer and the eyebrow break became much less for the double-primer rings, compared with the
Ore recovery
Sublevel caving reference rings.
Mining & 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction placement, if the two primers are initiated at the same time, the
collar primer will produce serious back break and even bring
The placement of a primer (usually containing a detonator) in a about a lot of detonation energy loss. If the collar primer is
blasthole plays an important role in rock blasting. Unfortunately, initiated later than the bottom one, the result is not good, either.
the importance of primer placement in rock fracture, fragmenta- In brief, a two primer placement with one primer close to collar
tion, and even ore recovery has not been well understood so far. should be avoided. The above description indicates that if two
An improper or even wrong primer position in engineering can primers are placed in one blasthole, their positions are to be
still be found. chosen scientifically. In this paper, the double-primer placement
As only one primer is placed at each blasthole, the study in [1] means that two primers with same delay time are placed at
by means of stress wave analysis shows that the best primer correct positions in a blasthole.
position is the middle of charged blasthole, in terms of detonation When this double-primer placement is applied to a blasthole, a
energy efficiency, rock fragmentation, and rock break in the roof of collision of shock waves from two primer locations will happen.
a drift. The production blasts had well confirmed the above Different from elastic wave collision, a shock wave collision results
theoretical analysis since the ore extraction and recovery had in that the final pressure produced is greater than the sum of the
been largely increased, and the eyebrow break markedly reduced initial two shock waves, according to shock wave theory [3].
by the middle-primer method, compared with the old method An experimental study by Dawes et al. [4] well confirmed this theory
used in the mine [1]. in rock blasting. Their experiments showed that the amplitude of
It is common practice for some operators to routinely put two stress waves in rock mass due to two-primer placement in a
primers into a blasthole, and their rationale is that using a second blasthole was much greater than the double of the amplitude of
primer is insurance against either a poor initiator/detonator or a the waves caused by one single primer in a similar blasthole. Their
cutoff of the hole due to shifting rock caused by a previous delay experiments indicate potential applications of a two-primer place-
firing [2]. In many mines and quarries, two primers are often ment in rock blasting. After a long time when electronic detona-
placed in each blasthole. However, in many cases, one primer is tors came into being, shock collision theory was used to improve
placed at the bottom and the other close to the collar of a fragmentation at Salvador mine [5]. Even by using NONEL deto-
blasthole. The latter is usually taken as a backup in case of that a nators, the shock collision theory was applied to break down
malfunction occurs for the bottom primer. In this primer remained roofs in sublevel caving mining [6]. Due to the success in
breaking down remained roofs, this theory was applied to reduce
eyebrow break in Malmberget mine by NONEL detonators [7].
E-mail address: In order to further improve rock fragmentation in the same mine,
1365-1609/& 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216 209

P (GPa)
from 2011 to 2012 two blast methods were tested by using
electronic detonators, one is DRB (Dividing Ring Blasting) method,
originally developed for vibration control [8,9], and the other is
the double-primer placement. In the DRB method, one ring is 55
separated into two parts – upper one and lower one – in charging
and blasting. The blastholes in the lower part of a ring whose 50
upper part has been blasted in previous blasting are blasted one by 3 (P3, u3)
one with a delay time between two neighboring holes, and then in 45
the same blast the blastholes in the upper part of the next ring are

initiated one by one with a delay time. In this way, the explosive in

Hu cted s

each delay time can be reduced by about 50% if the blastholes in a

sho r
Hu al sh

ted iot fo

nio hock
ring are divided at their middles. In order to improve the


t fo
ref ugon
nio ck B
fragmentation in the upper part of a sublevel ring, a 10 ms delay

sho or

ial ot f
t fo
time between two neighboring holes was employed in the upper


init goni

parts of the DRB rings. 25
In terms of the above description, we will briefly introduce the

shock collision theory, show how the stress and energy distribu- 20
tions are changed due to shock wave collision, and analyze the
effects of shock collision on rock fracture and fragmentation. Then 2 (P2, u2) 15 1 (P1, u1)
the test results for the double-primer placement in the mine will
be presented and discussed. 10

2u2 2u1
2. Theory on shock wave collision 0
-3.6 -3.2 -2.8 -2.4 -2 -1.6 -1.2 -0.8 -0.4 0 0.4 0.8 1.2 1.6 2 2.4 2.8 3.2 3.6
According to one-dimensional shock wave theory [3], when u (km/s)
one shock wave with pressure P1 meets another shock with Fig. 2. Solution of shock wave collision caused by initial two shocks P1 and P2.
pressure P2, the final shock pressure P3 produced is greater than
the sum of the pressures of the initial two shock waves, i.e.
Since P 1 ¼ 15GPa, we get u1 ¼ 1:625 km=s from Eq. (2). The
P3 4 P1 þ P2 ð1Þ Hugoniot curve for the new shock in negative direction must be
rotated around this point and will intercept the P0 ¼0 or u axis at
This case is called shock wave collision. A shock wave collision
2u1 (see Fig. 2), and its equation is
is different from an elastic wave collision. In one-dimensional
condition, as an elastic stress wave with stress σ 1 meets with
P ¼ ρ0 C 0 ð2u1  uÞ þ ρ0 sð2u1  uÞ2 ð3Þ
another elastic wave with stress σ 2 , the final stress σ 3 produced is
equal to the sum of the stresses of the initial two elastic waves, i.e.
Now we consider the Hugoniot curve for the new wave in
σ3 ¼ σ1 þ σ2.
positive-x direction. This Hugoniot is coming from state P 2 ; u2 , and
In shock wave collision, the final pressure depends on both
that u2 is negative; see Figs. 1 and 2. This state was arrived at by
initial two shock pressures and the material. In the following, we
the initial shock B in negative-x direction, into u0 ¼0 material. The
will see how much the final pressure is increased by shock
Hugoniot curve of this initial shock is
collision, taking TNT (cast) as an example. Assume a shock A with
pressure P1 ¼15 GPa travelling in positive direction in the explo-
P ¼ ρ0 C 0 ðu0  uÞ þ ρ0 sðu0  uÞ2 ð4Þ
sive (one-dimensional), as shown in Fig. 1. In the same explosive
there is another shock B with pressure P2 ¼15 GPa travelling in
Since P 2 ¼ 15GPa, u0 ¼ 0, we get u2 ¼  1:625 km=s from
negative direction. The Hugoniot values for TNT (cast) are
Eq. (4). The Hugoniot curve for the new shock in positive direction
ρ0 ¼ 1:614 g=cm3 , C 0 ¼ 2:39 km=s, and s ¼ 2:05 [3]. When the
must be rotated around this point and will intercept the P0 ¼ 0 or u
two shock waves approach each other head-on, the collision will
axis at 2u2 (see Fig. 2), and its equation is
cause two new shock waves that are reflected back in each
We start with the Hugoniot curve for the new wave in P ¼ ρ0 C 0 ðu  2u2 Þ þ ρ0 sðu  2u2 Þ2 ð5Þ
negative-x direction. This Hugoniot is coming from state P1, u1,
and that u1 is positive, see Fig. 1 and Fig. 2. This state was arrived at The solution for the particle velocity after the collision can be
by the initial shock A in positive-x direction, into u0 ¼0 material. obtained from equating the two Hugoniot Eqs. (3) and (5). This
The Hugoniot curve of this initial shock is gives rise to

P ¼ ρ0 C 0 u þ ρ0 su2 ð2Þ u3 ¼ 0 ð6Þ

Then the pressure at the interaction can be obtained by using

this particle velocity in either Eqs. (3) or (5):
P1 P2

P 3 ¼ 47:5GPa ð7Þ

Obviously, P 3 ¼ 47:5GPa is much greater than the sum

P 1 þP 2 ¼ 30GPa of the initial two pressures. In brief, the final
pressure caused by shock wave collision is greater than the sum of
Fig. 1. Coordinate for shock collision. the initial two shock waves.
210 Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216

3. Double-primer placement on stress and energy initiated, the detonation from both primers will travel in two
distributions directions: up and down in the hole. When the detonation front
from D1 propagates down to D2, its front in upward direction will
3.1. Stress distribution come to F1. At the same time, when the detonation front from D2
propagates up to D1, its front in downward direction will come to
In rock blasting, all energy used in rock fracture and fragmen- F2. Now we can make a summary on the stress distribution at the
tation comes from the detonation wave that consists of a leading moment shown in Fig. 3, as follows:
shock wave and a rarefaction wave (or Taylor wave). In addition, There is a superposition region of the two P-waves starting
rock fracture and fragmentation depend not only on the amount of from the two primers, which is enclosed by curve E1–D1–E2–D2–
energy applied to rock, but also on stress amplitude, stress E1. In this region, the final stress is greater than either of the initial
distribution, loading rate, etc. Because a shock wave collision can two stresses starting from D1 and D2.
produce a greater pressure (stress) than the sum of initial two In the superposition region E1–D1–E2–D2–E1, there are three
pressures, the final stresses in a certain region produced by the areas. The first is the circular area the diameter of which is D1–D2
shock collision will be greater than the double of the stresses in or B1–B2. In this area, a shock wave collision happens, and the
the same region caused by a single primer placement. These collision begins at location O as soon as the initial two shocks
greater stresses are useful for rock fracture. arrive at this location. According to formula (1), this shock wave
Now we take one blasthole in a sublevel caving ring as example collision results in that the final shock pressure is greater than the
to see the stress distribution due to shock wave collision, as shown sum of the initial two shock pressures. Accordingly, the final
in Fig. 3 in which other blastholes in the ring are not shown. In this stresses produced by the shock collision in this circular area must
blasthole, there are two primers at locations D1 and D2. The be greater than the sum of the initial two stresses. With increasing
charge length is F1–F2 and primer positions D1 and D2 are at 1/3 time, this circular area expands outward. This shock collision effect
and 2/3 of F1–F2, respectively. There is no free surface in either left on the increase in stresses is well confirmed by the field measure-
or right side of the lower part of a sublevel caving ring. In the ment [4], indicating that the maximum stress caused by two
upper part of the ring, there are two partly-confined surfaces. The primers at different positions in a blasthole, which are instanta-
blasthole is fully charged. We assume that: (1) the P-waves shown neously initiated, is markedly greater than the double of the
in Fig. 3 are all compressive (since detonation is just approaching maximum stress induced by one single primer in a similar
the ends of explosive charge); (2) effect of S-waves on stress borehole.
distribution is neglected since S-waves start later than P-waves In the superposition region E1–D1–E2–D2–E1, the two other
and they travel much slower than P-waves; (3) a shock wave from areas are E1–D1–B1–D2–E1 and D1–E2–D2–B2–D1. In these two
a detonating blasthole quickly decays to an elastic wave in the rock areas, elastic stress wave superposition occurs, i.e. the final stress
mass, so shock wave collision will be only considered in the after superposition is greater than either of the initial two stresses.
blasthole, while stress wave superposition will be handled in the As a result, if two primers are placed at two different places in a
rock mass; (4) the detonation velocity of the explosive and the blasthole and they are initiated simultaneously, in the rock
P-wave velocity of the rock mass are equal to each other. surrounding the blasthole, the stresses will be efficiently super-
Under these conditions, when the two primers are simultaneously imposed. In some regions the final stresses by the double-primers
will be greater than the double of the stresses by a single primer;
in other regions the final stresses will be greater than the stresses
by a single primer. We have noted that Fig. 3 is in the plane of the
F1 ring, so each circle in the figure actually represents a spherical
region in the rock. The stress waves starting from D1 and D2 are in
Front of P-wave fact two complex spherical waves, so is the wave (indicated by the
circle between D1 and D2) from the shock collision. The super-
position of these compressive P-waves is favourable to rock
fracture and fragmentation, since in a spherical compressive wave
the stresses in two tangential directions are often tensile.
D1 A number of experimental studies such as in [10,11] have demon-
strated the radial cracks induced by compressive P-wave in
E1 O B2
In addition to the stresses on the plane of the ring, it is
B1 E2
necessary to know the stress distribution in the cross section
along the axis of drift, as shown in Fig. 4. At the same moment as
in Fig. 3, two compressive P-waves from D1 and D2 are indicated
Ring boundary
by two large trimmed circles. At the same time, a small circle
D2 between D1 and D2 is also a compressive wave region due to the
shock wave collision. These three compressive waves will be
efficiently superimposed one and another in the region between
D1 and D2, and this superposition will be strengthened with time.
As mentioned above, the superposition of compressive waves is
Front of P-wave
useful for rock fracture.
As well as we know, a compressive wave will be reflected into a
F2 tensile wave at a free surface (also at a partly free surface). Such a
tensile wave is dependent on the original compressive wave, i.e.
the greater the compressive wave, the greater is the tensile wave.
Fig. 3. Stress distribution in the plane of a sublevel caving ring. Explosive is
Therefore, a higher final compressive wave will be reflected into
charged in the blasthole between F1 and F2, and the primers are placed at D1 a higher tensile wave. In Fig. 4, we can see the reflected wave
and D2. occupied by S1–M1–S3–S1 and S2–M1–S4–S2. They are well
Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216 211

Blasthole Hanging wall

P1 R3

S1 Front of P-wave



M1 Double

D2 Drift 504 Drift 502 Drift 499 Drift 496 Drift 493 Drift 491
(reference) (reference)
Foot wall

Front of P-wave Fig. 5. Location of blast tests on a production level.

P2 always blasted first, and the others follow one and another in

Front surface Drift 4.2. Blast plan

Fig. 4. Stress distribution in cross section along axis of drift. In theory, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4, in order to achieve good
fragmentation, two primers are to be placed at 1/3 and 2/3
charged parts of each blasthole. However, considering a sublevel
distributed in the ring. With increasing time, the collision-caused ring is a fan form of borehole distribution, the specific charge in
compressive region becomes larger and larger, and relevant tensile upper part of the ring is much smaller than that in the lower part.
stresses reflected from the front face will be greater and greater. Thus, in real blast plans, we often place the two primers at higher
As a consequence, the rock in the ring will be highly fractured and positions than that shown in Figs. 3 and 4. A real charge plan is
fragmented. shown in Fig. 6 where the primer positions are shown by small
squares. Also, the upper primer in the middle blasthole is at 30 m
3.2. Energy distribution high from the drift roof due to limited length of detonator wires.
Anyway, the position of a primer in the double-primer placement
The shock collision makes the total detonation time in the can be changed more or less, according to practical situations.
blasthole shorter, resulting in a greater energy concentration.
As shown in Fig. 4, the total detonation time T D in the hole is 4.3. Delay time
equal to T D ¼ lch =3D in the double-primer case shown in Fig. 4,
T D ¼ lch =D in the case of one primer at either the bottom or the According to our previous blast tests with electronic detona-
collar of the hole, and T D ¼ lch =2D in the case of one primer at the tors, we chose 80 ms as the delay time between two neighboring
middle of the hole. Among these three cases, the double-primer blastholes. In this case, when one hole is blasted, there should be
case gives the shortest detonation time, meaning that the total no stress wave superposition from its neighboring holes. However,
detonation energy is distributed in a shortest period of time, the shock collision due to double-primer placement will make the
compared with two other cases. This high energy concentration in stresses in the rock mass increased largely, as analyzed previously.
the double-primer case should be helpful for rock fragmentation.
At last, we note that at the same moment as in Fig. 4, when all
explosive in the hole is detonated, no tensile wave reaches the 5. Results from double-primer placement in sublevel caving
eyebrow and roof of the drift. In other words, the eyebrow break
and rock fracture in the roof can be reduced by the double-primer 5.1. Rock fracture in eyebrow region
As mentioned previously, the double-primer placement was
successfully used to reduce eyebrow break in sublevel caving by
4. Production tests on double-primer placement using NONEL detonators in the same mine Malmberget [7]. The
result indicated that the eyebrow break was reduced from 3 m in
4.1. Location of tests ordinary rings (in which the same primer placement was used as
in the reference rings in this study) to 2.1 m in the double-primer
In order to improve fragmentation, it was planned to test the rings. Note that the burden is 3.5 m in both ordinary and double-
DRB method first and the double-primer one second. Considering primer rings. As electronic detonators were used in this study,
as small effect of geological factors on blasting as possible, four result became even better, due to the accurate initiation of
neighboring production drifts in a production level were taken as electronic detonators which makes shock collision effect better.
the test area. Two middle drifts 496 and 499 are planned to use Fig. 7a shows the result for eyebrow break from one double-
the two test methods, and two others 493 and 502 as reference primer ring in which a large part of burden is remained after
drifts. The locations of these drifts are shown in Fig. 5. In each blasting. This result was found in most of the double-primer rings
drift, blasting begins from hanging wall. Therefore, ring 1 (R1) is we had tested. In this case, all of collars are visible. Therefore,
212 Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216

Planned hole
Actual hole


Fig. 6. Blast plan of ring 496-r24. The extraction is 160.4%. Sublevel height 30 m;
drift spacing 24 m; burden 3.5 m; borehole diameter 115 mm.

chargers do not need to go to the caving area to find the collars

during charging. In other words, the work safety for miners is
much better. As a comparison, Fig. 7b indicates the result for
eyebrow break from a reference ring in which a small part of
burden is remained.

5.2. Rock fragmentation

According to the author's field observations, the fragmentation

from most double-primer rings looked fine, as the muckpile shown
by the picture in Fig. 8a that was taken after blast and when loading
did not start yet. We can see that the maximum fragments are Fig. 7. Remained burden. (a) ring 499-r22 (double-primer ring in drift 499);
(b) ring 502-r17 (reference ring with one primer in each hole).
smaller than the normal A4 paper. Such fine fragmentation was
seldom found in the ordinary rings or reference rings in the mine.
Note that we did not increase the explosive charge in each hole in In the reference drift 502, a total of 19 rings were blasted.
the double-primer placement, i.e. the borehole plans were not In test drift 499, a total of 12 DRB rings and 7 double-primer rings
changed at all. As a comparison, the muckpile from one reference were tested. The results for ore extraction and recovery are shown
ring is shown in Fig. 8b. in Fig.10b, indicating both extraction and recovery in the double-
primer rings are higher than that in either reference or DRB rings.
5.3. Ore flow and dilution

Due to improved fragmentation in the double-primer rings, ore 6. Discussion

flow became better and dilution was low in several rings, as shown
in Fig. 9, where dilution is only 11% and 8%, respectively. From 6.1. Rock fracture and fragmentation
Fig. 9b we see that the ore recovery is up to 147%, meaning that at
least 47% of the recovery is from one or more rings above ring 496- As mentioned previously, the fragmentation from the double-
r24. The major reason is that average sizes of fragments in the primer rings often looks fine according to our field observations.
double-primer ring became smaller, resulting in the remained ore The major reason is that the double-primer placement shortens
over this ring could flow down. the total detonation time, and largely increases the final stresses in
rock. These make the total detonation energy highly concentrated
5.4. Ore recovery in a shorter time and with higher amplitude, compared with a
single-primer placement. As a result, rock mass is highly shattered
Table 1 shows the results for ore extraction and ore recovery in the double-primer placement.
from all of test and reference rings. A total of 17 rings were blasted On the other hand, one may inquire what role loading rate may
in the reference drift 493. In test drift 496, a total of 14 DRB rings play in the double-primer placement. It is no doubt that the
and 5 double-primer rings were tested. The results for ore loading rate in the double-primer placement is higher than that in
extraction and recovery are shown in Fig.10a, indicating both a single-primer case, since detonation time is largely shortened.
extraction and recovery in the double-primer rings are higher It is also known that fracture toughness, compressive strength and
than that in either reference or DRB rings. tensile strength of rock increase markedly with increasing loading
Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216 213

Production drift: AL992-499; Ring No.22

Average iron content in last 25% extraction

Iron content (%)

Iron content (%)
Extraction (%)

Production drift: AL992-496; Ring No.24

Average iron content in last 25% extraction

Iron content (%)

Iron content (%)

Extraction (%)
Fig. 9. Iron content vs. ore extraction. (a) ring 499-r22. Ore recovery 90%;
extraction 101%; waste rock 11%. (b) ring 496-r24. Ore recovery 147%; extraction
160%; waste rock 8%.

Table 1
Ore extraction and ore recovery from all of test rings and reference rings. Rings
6–19 in drift AL496 with DRB, and rings 20–24 with double-primer; Rings 8–19 in
drift AL499 with DRB, and rings 20–26 with double-primer. Drifts AL493 and AL502
Fig. 8. Muckpile after blasting. (a) ring 499-r25 from double-primer placement. are for reference.
Middle part to upper part of the muckpile (the paper is a piece of normal A4);
(b) ring 493-r20 from ordinary blasting (the paper is 40 cm  50 cm). Ring no Ore extraction (%) Ore recovery (%)

AL493 AL496 AL499 AL502 AL493 AL496 AL499 AL502

rate under dynamic loads [12–16], indicating rock is stronger in

6 60 135 51 130
higher loading rate. However, although rock becomes stronger or 7 79 79 69 56
more difficult to fracture, the sizes of fragments produced decrease 8 56 106 112 95 46 78 88 87
with increasing loading rate under dynamic loading condition 9 77 86 101 73 57 70 74 62
10 100 97 86 80 85 86 63 70
[15,17], and the internal cracks produced increase with increasing
11 86 77 68 91 60 61 60 65
loading rate, too [18]. Therefore, a higher loading rate in dynamic 12 115 83 123 84 68 75 102 70
loading condition is favorable to rock fragmentation, if the effect of 13 96 93 70 84 58 86 64 75
loading rate on energy efficiency is not considered in blasting. 14 99 95 113 95 57 78 82 74
A good fragmentation, i.e. smaller average sizes of fragments, 15 141 136 84 82 97 94 72 71
16 116 90 86 116 86 71 65 104
can delay the moving down of the waste rock above the ring in
17 135 99 85 107 90 76 60 92
loading and therefore increase ore recovery and reduce dilution, 18 92 138 108 92 54 95 82 73
according to previous tests in the mine [1,20]. In addition, a good 19 119 123 83 107 91 93 66 89
fragmentation can save a significant amount of energy in down- 20 105 95 111 105 88 71 90 91
21 112 158 111 120 67 127 90 97
stream operations such as crushing and grinding. Furthermore,
22 199 132 101 75 170 65 90 66
a good fragmentation can increase extraction speed or productiv- 23 125 128 115 94 108 93
ity, according to production tests [19,20]. In this direction, it is 24 160 144 100 147 91 86
better to measure or evaluate fragmentation and follow up loading 25 92 268 55 220
operation in the double-primer rings in the future. 26 233 129 172 108

Mean (%) 105.1 110.9 107.3 106.2 76.1 87 82.8 89.1

6.2. On rock fracture in roofs

It has been proved that the double-primer method can effi- also the previous tests [7]. Therefore, the double-primer method
ciently reduce rock fracture in a drift roof or eyebrow break in can be certainly used to reduce eyebrow break or rock fracture in a
sublevel caving, according to not only the tests in this study but drift roof.
214 Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216

Production drift:AL992-499; Ring No.25

Extraction and recovery from 496& ref. 493
Average iron content
Recovery in last 25% extraction

Iron content (%)

Iron content (%)


102.6% 100.8%

80 76.1%


Extraction (%)
Fig. 11. Iron content vs. ore extraction for ring 499-r25. Fragmentation is fine, but
extraction is low.

Ref. DRB 2 primers Ref. DRB 2 primers
493 in 496 in 496 493 in 496 in 496

Extraction and recovery from 499 & ref. 502


100 99.4%



Fig. 12. A fault slides toward hanging wall behind ring 499-r24.

that a great amount of waste rock has been loaded out. A similar
result is found in ring 499-r24, i.e. dilution is also high. In this case,
a special blast plan is to be developed in the future.
0 The second phenomenon is that the ore extraction was stopped
Ref. DRB 2 primers Ref. DRB 2 primers
493 in 496 in 496 493 in 496 in 496 incorrectly in a number of rings (particularly in many DRB rings),
as shown in Fig. 9, although the extraction and recovery are
Fig. 10. Ore extraction and recovery. (a) from test drift 496 and reference drift 493;
(b) from test drift 499 and reference drift 502.
already high. A common character is that a suddenly hanging up
is formed by several boulders that block the draw point. In this
case, especially as iron content is still very high, extraction should
6.3. Special phenomena continue, for example, by breaking down the hanging up. Other-
wise, ore loss will be unnecessarily increased.
During the tests for the double-primer method, some special Another phenomenon from DRB rings is that fragmentation
phenomena were found. The first phenomenon is that sometimes often looked fine and the loading in the first 30% extraction was
when fragmentation is good, ore recovery is not. For example, two almost no waste rock. However, from about 30% (sometimes 40%)
rings 499–r24 and 499–r25 showed a very good fragmentation, as extraction there were usually some waste boulders came down.
shown in Fig. 8a. However, the ore recovery in both rings is not A possible reason is that the short delay times (10 ms in upper holes
good, as shown in Fig. 11 and Table 1. Fig. 11 indicates that after and 20–60 ms in lower ones) between two neighboring holes might
10% of extraction, a great amount of waste rock must have come give rise to a too strong fragment throw, making the waste rock
down. The major reason is that as ring 499-r24 was charged, a boulders dropping down during the throw. This phenomenon is
fault was found after 499-r25. The fault slid toward the hanging worthy of being considered in a further study on the double-primer
wall, as shown in Fig. 12 in which the left side is toward hanging placement since we are not sure whether 80 ms is or not the
wall. During blasting in the two rings, the fault might slide a optimum delay time used in this study, at least in theory.
certain distance to the hanging wall. This may cause the unblasted
ore mass behind ring 499-r24 or r25 and over the fault move a 6.4. Ore recovery with double-primer placement
distance toward the hanging wall. This movement pushed ore
fragments forward and reduced the width of ore flow in horizontal As reported in [7], the ore recovery was increased by 3% in
direction. In this case, if loading continues, there must be much fourteen double-primer rings (average recovery 97%) by using
more waste rock coming out. From Fig. 11 we can see that the iron NONEL detonators in Malmberget mine, compared with that in
content is only about 40% after extraction is over 10%, indicating seventeen ordinary rings (average recovery 94%).
Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216 215

In this study, the results for test drift 496 and reference drift caving, the double-primer method would not cause a marked
493 showed that the ore recovery was 108%, 76.1%, and 82.1% from damage to the nearby rock structures. But when this method is
the double-primer rings, reference rings, and the DRB rings, used in other engineering projects, for example in the case of a
respectively. Similarly, for test drift 499 and reference drift 502, weak nearby structure, it cannot be excluded that the double-
the recovery was 99.4%, 89.1%, and 73.2% from the double-primer primer placement may cause damage in the structure. Therefore, a
rings, reference rings, and the DRB rings, respectively. On average, careful blast design together with some measurements, for exam-
the double-primer placement shows more than 10% ore recovery ple, on vibrations is necessary. Even for the future study and tests
than either of two other methods. on the double-primer placement in sublevel caving some mea-
We note that the ore recovery in the last few rings in either surements and deeper theoretical studies are recommended.
reference drifts or test ones is high, compared with that in other For the vibrations in the far-filed, the double-primer method
places. This is because these rings are located close to the foot wall could cause a very high vibration. In this study, the test area is
where it is easy for the remained ore in upper levels to move down much far from the Malmberget city, so the blast-induced vibra-
during loading. Considering this situation, let us compare the tions in the city never cause any problems. But in the mine, one
recovery from all of the double-primer rings and corresponding production area named Johannes is the nearest one to the city.
reference rings. We consider five last rings in reference drift 493 Considering this situation, the double-primer method has been
and seven last rings in reference drift 502, so the total reference never tried in Johannes. However, when two middle holes in a ring
rings are twelve. We take away one ring AL502-r25 with max- were simultaneously initiated or two rings from two different
imum recovery and another ring AL493-r18 with least recovery drifts in the same ore body were initiated at the same time, a
from these twelve reference rings. At the same time, we take away nearly two-time high vibration was monitored in the city, com-
one double-primer ring AL499-r26 with maximum recovery and pared with the normal blasting when one hole or one ring is
one ring AL499-r25 with least recovery from twelve double- initiated at each time [9]. Therefore, in this case or a case similar to
primer rings. Then the result is that the average recovery from this, the double-primer method is not recommended. Otherwise, if
10 double-primer rings is 97.3% and that from 10 reference rings is this method is needed to be tried, some pre-tests and relevant
95.7%, indicating a small increase in the recovery of the double- measurements are necessary.
primer rings. This result does not consider the negative effect of
the fault on the recovery of double-primer ring AL499-r25, as 6.6. Comments on the double-primer placement
discussed above. Anyway, although the ore recovery from the
double-primer rings is increased to a certain extent, a further The double-primer placement has been proved to be successful
study on a large quantity of double-primer rings is necessary in in reducing eyebrow break, improving rock fragmentation and
the future since the number of the double-primer rings in this increasing ore recovery in the Malmberget mine. So far we have
study is still small, only twelve rings. not found any negative effects of this method on mining produc-
tion and safety. Since the double-primer rings tested in this study
6.5. High stresses in structures nearby and high vibrations in far-field are not many and no measurement on fragmentation and blast
parameters was done due to limited research resource during this
As shown in Fig. 4, the shock collision induced high stress wave study, more tests with relevant measurements are necessary.
in the half-circle with radius OD1 will completely propagate into In sublevel caving or other similar situation, the delay time
the rock mass behind the blasting ring (right side of picture). between neighboring holes needs to be carefully chosen. A very
As analyzed in Sections 2 and 3, the maximum stress in this wave short delay time may not produce a high ore extraction and
can be up to more than double of the peak stress from a single recovery, even though fragmentation is good, according to the
primer placement. If this wave is very strong, a possible damage in DRB test (some blastholes in the lower part of ring also have
the rock structures nearby and very high vibrations in the far-field double-primers) in this study. The reason is that a too short delay
may be caused. After that moment, as shown in Fig. 4, the reflected time may give rise to a strong fragment throw and compaction to
waves will immediately follow the collision-induced compressive the materials (mostly waste rock) in the front of the blasting ring.
waves, i.e. a superposition between the compressive waves and As a consequence, this may cause the waste rock above the ring to
the tensile waves (reflected ones) may happen. At the same time, drop down during the throw. In addition, this may make ore flow
rock fracture occurs and the extending cracks interact with the become worse. Therefore, a study on the relation between ore flow
stress waves in the collision-affected region. These of course and blast parameters such as delay time and primer placement is
consume wave energy. As a consequence, the waves going into needed in the future.
the surrounding rock mass in the near or far field will be reduced
more or less. In addition, approximately, the blasting-induced
stress waves are a spherical wave the geometrical attenuation of 7. Conclusions
which is great, i.e. with increasing distance the amplitude of the
wave decreases fast. Thus, it is possible that more detonation The double-primer placement based on shock wave collision
energy might be well consumed in shattering the rock mass theory is successful in reducing eyebrow break in sublevel caving
surrounding the primers in the double-primer case, while less and rock break in the roof of a drift, by using either electronic or
detonation energy could be transported to the rock structures NONEL detonators. By employing the double-primer placement
nearby or the far-field. with electronic detonators, rock fragmentation looks much finer or
For the nearby rock structures, the maximum vibration induced better according to field observations. The double-primer rings
by the double-primer placement could be more than double of result in a certain increase in ore recovery, compared with the
that caused by a single-primer placement. But in sublevel caving reference rings and the DRB rings.
the nearby rock structures are the production drifts. A two times
high vibration might not seriously undermine the safety of the
drifts. In Malmberget mine, since year 2006 a total of thirty-seven Acknowledgements
double-primer rings have been tried in different ore bodies, but no
any evident rock damage in the drifts has been found, as seen in The tests on the double-primer placement were done in LKAB
Fig. 7a. Therefore, for underground mining, especially sublevel Malmberget mine. The author is grateful to the R & D and
216 Z.X. Zhang / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 71 (2014) 208–216

production departments, especially for the chargers in the mine rock fragmentation by blasting—Fragblast-10, New Delhi, India; 2012. p. 249–
for their active support. 254.
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