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MAXAM Foundation

MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Chair - Blasting solutions - Underground metal mining

Ten years ago, world production of metal ores reached 5000 mt/year, of which 83% was extracted from open-pit mines and 17% from underground deposits. A decade on, both demand and production of metals have experienced significant growth, driven by China's economic development. However, the latest technological advances, com-bined with the progressive depletion of open-pit reserves, among other factors, have played a big role in the increase in underground metal ore mines, with gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, tin and lead being most in demand.

Underground metal mining

Underground mining methods adapt to the conditions and form of the rock, as well as to the dimensions, strength and stability of the mineralized body. Excavation and the construction of an important range of infrastructure (workplaces, power supply, transport, drainage and pumping, maintenance) are required in order to access the ore and obtain the metal. Underground metal ore mining is generally associated with hard rock formations which require special exploitation techniques using expansive energy.


Some of the underground excavation tasks which require the use of explosives are de-velopment and production blasts. Development blasts are required to access the min-eralized body and create the necessary infrastructure for extraction. These are followed by production blasts carried out on the mineralized body, which can be sub-classified by the method selected (long or short blastholes), in accordance with the exploitation method chosen.


 Basket borehole laading in Chuquicamata copper mine, Chile.

MAXAM and underground metal mining

Current economic conditions mean mining operations must be based on innovative solutions in order to optimize the use of energy and equipment, thus minimizing the total cost of ownership. The energy required in underground mining can be altered by ad-justing the density of the explosive, therefore allowing energy-efficient blasts for both development and production work.


Decreasing the concentration of energy at the perimeter and reducing over-excavation and the additional cost of support equipment, while increasing the con-centration of energy in the spreader, stopping and lifter holes in order to achieve excel-lent fragmentation and maximum advance per round, are all key to ensuring substan-tial savings in development blasts. On the other hand, production blasts require special explosives and loading systems, such as the case of up-holes and complete 360° ring loads. It must be remembered that long blasthole methods require a reliable, precise load system due to the extreme application conditions. Bespoke solutions therefore generate considerable savings by allowing, amongst other aspects, load systems which can adapt to the strategy for the mine while also allowing loads with selective energy concentrations, specifically designed in accordance with the hardness of the rock mass.

Given these challenges, the value proposition developed by MAXAM include:

• Safe operation.
• Safe supply.
• Minimum damage and maximum advance per round.
• Flexible densities in the same front.
• Up-hole and 360º ring load systems.
• Dilution control.
• Environmental controls.
• Total Cost of Ownership.

The combination of all these factors is key to the success of underground metal mining operations.

Be sure to contact MAXAMfor further information on value proposals and blasting solu-tions for underground metal mining.


 Tunnel front during loading with RIOFLEX, Chuquicamata Mine, Chile

Blasting solutions. June 2017





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Last update 2019.10.10
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