Wall Control Blasting Practices at BHP Billiton Iron Ore Mt Whaleback
ABSTRACT A programme of blast improvement was initiated at the Mt Whaleback iron ore mine by BHPIO management in early-1998. One component of that work was the need to improve wall control blasting practices to better achieve the designed pit slope elements. This paper describes the geological conditions in which pit walls are developed, the mine operating equipment, the blast design concepts applied to minimise blast damage, the techniques applied in an assessment of the blast performance and the operational procedures developed to ensure that the blast concepts are effectively implemented in the production environment. Substantial changes have been implemented in both technical and operational aspects of the mining operation in order to achieve the improvements in pit wall condition, in particular recognising the need for a more flexible approach to limits blasting in response to highly variable and complex geology. The benefits to the mine are not only an improved wall condition, but increased confidence on the part of mine management that mine plans may be implemented on design and on schedule.