The more “popular” this blog becomes, the greater the number of e-mails I receive that extol products and mines and that ask that I write about them on this blog. Maybe popular is not the correct description of this blog—maybe I should be precise and say, the greater number of readers, or just simply hits via Google. Whether it is blog popularity or hits, the fact remains that there has been a correlation between numbers and e-mails requesting a mention.
I cannot, and will not, write about products simply because I get an e-mail request. I remain true to the founding principle: write about what interests me and what I hope will interest the reader of this blog. That said, the other day I received an e-mail alerting me to a website where you can read about a different way of blasting.
Before I write about the website, let me say why I found it of interest. The following is from something much longer I wrote a long time ago about blasting:
My father, a miner, would often bring home a six-inch long, one-inch diameter cardboard tube that when lit would spurt out a bright red flame. He called these chesa-sticks and told us they were used underground to set off the explosives that shattered the rock and liberated the gold-bearing ore. The first time I actually saw rock explode from blasting was on the left bank of the Hendrick Verwoerd dam on the Orange River as the blasters, come down from the Transvaal, carved away the abutment that we would later fill in with concrete to hold back the river’s waters. Even today, I thrill whenever I see the perfect face of a high Colorado roadcut in fine-grained rock with its regular pattern of half blast holes separated by the perfect break of smooth rock between.
That is the memory side of blasting. The tragedy side is death. As reported on the website of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:
Between 1978 and 2000, 106 miners were killed and 1,050 were injured by explosives and breaking agents. In 2001, there were 7 blasting-related injuries and fatalities in the mining industry, compared to 140 in 1978. For the past two decades, most explosives-related injuries and fatalities in surface mines occurred when workers were struck by rock, either because they were too close to the blast or rock was thrown much farther than expected. The second leading cause was blasts that shoot prematurely. In underground mines, most explosive-related fatalities were caused by miners being too close to the blast, followed by explosive fumes poisoning, misfires, and premature blasts. Misfires lead to injuries and fatalities as miners try to shoot explosives that failed to detonate in the original blast. Premature blasts occur without warning while blasters are near the explosive-loaded boreholes; the explosive may be initiated by lightning, the impact of explosives being dropped down a dry borehole, or careless handling of the initiating system (blasting caps).
And so, in a way, this is a kind of tribute to the memory of the chesa stick and those who died in blasting accidents. The story is that my paternal grandfather died in a mine blast, but I have no way to validate the story.
The website that prompts this blog posting is for NXbursT. Funny set of upper an lower case lettering, but that is a fashion—although I do not like it.
These folk make a different type of blast-inducer, described thus on their site:
The NXbursT™ technology is based on a non-detonating chemical compound enclosed in a cartridge, which reacts very quickly when ignited to produce high volumes of harmless gas, mainly consisting of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and steam. When the cartridge is sealed in a drill hole, the gas generated by the ignition of the propellant enters into the micro-fractures created from the percussive drilling process and into the natural fractures and planes of weakness of the rock to produce a shearing of the rock or concrete often called splitting.
They extol the product as being particularly useful for secondary blasting. While the prose is amateurish, and not particularly informative—probably written originally in another European language in which it sound more official, here is part of their description:
The NxbursT™ method for secondary rockbreaking offers surface mines and quarries a safe, low cost, versatile, environmentally sensitive method of secondary breaking, which allows secondary breaking to take place in the pit without having to disrupt the production operation.
I am not expert enough to tell if this is a break-through or mundane. Let us know if you have experience or opinions on the matter. In other words, share your thoughts on this one with the industry. Thanks.