An investigation into coal damage during blasting.

Kabongo, Kaby Katomba
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This thesis has investigated ways of exerting control over coal breaking during blasting. Its ultimate objective has been to optimise the use of explosive energy in blasting so as to ensure reduced production of coal fines in the comminution process. The investigations reported were conducted on laboratory models at a scale of a controllable energy to enable the development of a theoretical background for the thesis, However, the bulk of the work was undertaken insitu in surface and underground coal operations. The research was conducted in three phases. The first phase dealt with the approach to modelling the primary crushing mechanism which generates the coal fines during the blasting operation. A laboratory apparatus to simulate blast-generated dynamic loading was devised. Dynamic coal crushing test conducted on a set of over 150 samples of coal showed an exponential relationship; between the comminution energy and the subsequent coal damage. A comminution index (Com ) characterising the ability of coal to generate fines was derived. The second phase of the research concerned the field investigations. This had the following double aim: validating the hypothesis of the influence of the dynamic loading of the shock waves and that of the inherent discontinuities imbedded in coal on fines generation; and quantifying the problem of fines in the blasting techniques currently used in the local mining industry. Three sites were used, namely Kleinkopje of AMCOAL, Greenside of Goldfields and ATC, Tavistock of JCI. The investigations undertaken at Kleinkopje (surface mining operation) involved the determination of discontinuities by logging inherent fractures appearing on 75 diamond drilled cores of coal and the monitoring of 76 blasts conducted on the sites sampled for discontinuities. These investigations indicated a good correlation between the fines observed in blasted piles and the fracture frequency of the pre" existing fractures per metre of coal. The work undertaken in underground collieries (Greenside and Tavistock) demonstrated the enormity of the fines' problem in the local mining operations. Approximately a third of the coal broken underground was observed, in 30 blasts sampled and analysed, to fall into the category of fragments of under 6 mm termed 'coal fines', Which generate low income. The third phase of the research dealt with the optimisation of coal breaking during blasting. A series of 100 trial blasts was undertaken with the aim of searching for a blasting technique that enables the generation of fewer coal fines. A number of options were investigated. Trial blasts carried out were evaluated and their results are discussed in this thesis. The results of the fieldwork undertaken confirmed that fines generation is site speolflc, However, the decoupling technique used with high VOD explosive products may be successfully employed to reduced coal fines generation in strong coals (few inherent fractures).
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilrMnt of the requirements for the degreel of Doctor of Philosophy.
Coal mines and mining -- South Africa. , Blasting.