Blast modifications to improve bench width reliability at the Ekati Fox pit
The Fox Pit at EKATI Diamond Mine reached a depth of approximately 150 m as of September 2005. The pit is designed with 11 m wide benches excavated using a double benching technique leaving 30 m high bench faces. A series of blasting tests were conducted to improve catch bench reliability and increase the percentage of benches that meet an 11 m catch width. The design changes focussed on reducing damage to the bench crest because maintaining the bench crests is the most important factor in achieving good bench reliability. The most significant improvement was obtained by raising the bottoms of the lower trim blastholes by 0.5 m. This change decreases the depth of broken rock below the final bench elevation, and consequently reduces damage to rock that forms the bench crest below. Another improvement was the use of smaller diameter (165 mm vs. 270 mm) blastholes in the A and B rows for the upper trim blast. This change reduces the charge per delay during detonation, reduces the powder factor slightly, and reduces the energy affecting the final pit wall and crest. As mining and the blast testing progressed, the portion of the bench with crest achievements (>11 m) increased from 57% to 75%.
Blast damage, bench profiles, bench reliability, pre-split blast, bench crest, Blast monitoring, sub-drill