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MAXAM Foundation

MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Chair - Blasting solutions - Iron mining

Iron is a metal and a primary product in steel production. Ferrous alloys represent about 95% of the metallic materials used by man. It is estimated that annual world production of iron ore was 3320* million metric tons in 2015.

The largest iron mines are in Brazil, which is home to five of the most important ones, followed by Australia and Africa. Global steel consumption has doubled over the last 15 years as a result of the fast growth of cities all around the world, with China leading the way. The Asian country is the world's leading producer of steel, accounting for over half of total production, and is also its biggest importer.

*Source mineral commodity summary USGS 2016 PAG 91 (IRON ORE)

Open-pit iron mining

The methods and techniques for open-pit iron mining depend on several factors such as the stripping ratio, type of mineral, mineralogy and geology, amongst others. However, the most common open-pit method is the multiple bench system, which is based on the following operations: drilling, blasting and transport to the treatment plant.
The sizing of the benches depends on factors such as shape, size and genesis of the mineralised body, subsequent geological phenomena, slope stability criteria and final pit design, amongst other parameters. The expansive energy from explosives is required in order to achieve suitable fragmentation whenever the material is so hard that excavating with machinery is not economically viable. Once the blast is complete, large-volume diggers load the fragmented material onto trucks for transport to specific points in the exploitation sequence, normally a treatment plant.

Loading operations in an open-pit iron mine.

MAXAM and open-pit iron mining

One of the main goals of mining is to optimise exploitation operations in order to reduce total energy consumption. As part of the process, the fragmentation generated by the blasts is sized in order to maximise the performance of the crusher (eliminating downtime due to coarse material which can cause blockages) and maintain optimum load cycles, whilst also minimising the strain placed on the mining shovels when loading the fragmented material. For this reason, the blast design must take into account factors such as evaluating the rock type (mineralisation, geomechanical characteristics, etc.), bench height, the effect of vibrations on nearby constructions, and the type of machinery to be used. This combination is used to determine the amount of energy and its distribution in the rock mass. Once the blast is complete, the results of the fragmentation are assessed, along with the performance of the shovels and the crusher, adjusting any design parameters necessary to ensure continuous improvement in the next operational cycle. Given these challenges, the value propositions developed by MAXAM include:

• Safe operation.
• Reliable supply.
• Fragmentation of the rock.br /> • Minimise damage to slopes.
• Availability of resources.
• Productivity and control of laws.
• Environmental controls.
• Total optimisation of the energy used in the mine.
• Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).
The combination of all these factors is key to the success of iron mining operations.

Be sure to contact MAXAMfor further information on value proposals and blast solutions for open-pit iron mining .


  MAXAM Flexi-trucks in an open-pit iron mining in Carajas, Brazil.

Blasting solutions. March 2017





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Last update 2019.10.21
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