Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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BLASTING 34 E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 www.e-mj.com A good technological approach to blast- ing has been distorted for decades to help increase the sale of expensive prod- ucts — often without a need and paid for by the consumer. This article discusses the modern sales techniques and how to avoid getting caught up in hype that doesn't present any real advantage. Every industry faces a time when some people begin putting profit over technical principles in an effect to sell more, faster. After the initial adoption of these practic- es, the competition in the industry quick- ly puts similar programs together to keep up — training their employees to believe in these systems, even when they are not technically correct and better alternatives exist. This is happening in the blasting business today. The purpose of this article is to in- form both the reader and the "expert" on where the industry has gone wrong with these systems and the proper methods for using them. This is not a technical guide, but a red-flag warning to those who work with rock blasting. This information could save a mining operation hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. For the blast- ing professionals servicing the mines, this information will allow them to retain a loyal customer and begin to actually improve processes. It is time for the rock blasting industry to be more transparent and focus on technical data and a scien- tific approach to problems — not sales. The concepts for this article were de- veloped at the recent International Soci - ety of Explosive Engineers conference as the authors sat through paper after paper discussing these sales methods present- ed as technical information. The authors of those papers, after presenting, were quickly shut down with questions from experts, who are actively working in the rock blasting business. The results of these "studies" did not work and were worse than systems that were in place more than 50 years ago. To better understand the situation, let's rewind to the 1970s when the ex- plosive industry was in a heated debate between sales and technical principles. It Started 50 Years Ago It all started with Dr. Hino from Japan — a physicist who had probably never fired a real rock blast in his life — and the inven- tion of high-speed cameras. Dr. Hino took high-speed photographs of unconfined explosives breaking rock columns in the 1950s showing what he believed to be the effect of shock-wave spallation. Only one problem existed with his work, when analyzing the powder factor of his charge, it was approximately eight times that of actual rock-blasting applications. Shock breakage was quickly accepted as the must-be situation because models where already in place to mathematically calculate these shock waves. It was a new era of government funding to university professors looking to study this phenome- na that ensured large grants and tenured tracked positions. After a few years, this spread into the hearts of powder industry companies across the world, there was one problem, however, the theory and ef- fects of shock breakage did not ever show up in the field. The explosive and powder companies spent millions to attempt to show it working, including DuPont who did years of studies, and could never find evidence to prove it. In fact, after decades of full-scale research, they dis- covered that it had to be something else contributing to the breakage of rock. In addition to this, experts in rock blasting at the time, such as Dr. Cook (inventor of water gels) and Ulf Langfors, were consistently saying that shock break- age theories had no practical applicability in the rock blasting industry. Research per- formed in Sweden by Per Anders Pearson stated that for shock breakage, spalling, to occur to a minimal degree, approximately 8.5 pounds of explosive per cubic yard was needed — which was not done in commer- cial blasting. Sure, they work for military applications where very large explosives loads are used in surface charge applica- tions, but they did not contribute to any practical breakage in rock blasting. Why did these theories then stick around for de- cades in rock blasting? One simple reason — they dramatically increased the sales of expensive explosives when the industry was fighting against the sale of ANFO, and in some parts of the world, these old sales tools are regaining new light. How did this increase sales of expen- sive explosives? With the advent of the shock-wave theory, the basic principal of impedance matching began to take flight. What this principal said was that, if a shock wave is moving through an object and comes into contact with a different object, only a portion of the strength of the shock wave is transmitted and the remaining portion is reflected. Imagine a shock wave mov- ing from steel into copper, only a percent- age of that shock wave would go into the copper and the rest would travel in the opposite direction through the steel. The closer the speed of sound through those Technology vs. Sales — The Ongoing Battle in the Blasting Business How to avoid getting caught up in technology hype that does not present any real advantage By Anthony Konya M.S. and Dr. Calvin J. Konya ...the authors sat through paper after paper discussing these sales methods presented as technical information. The authors of those papers, after presenting, were quickly shut down with questions from experts...

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