The veteran research commentator Dr. R. E. (Robbie) Robinson recently guaranteed that the introduction of selected blast mining (SBM) in the South African gold sector has the potential to reduce the cost of mining narrow-reef gold and resuscitate the country’s ghost towns.
According to the expert, the technique can be satisfactorily carried out in a near future by using shock tubes and delayed detonators, which would be equivalent to a 30 percent increase in the gold price.
“You will resuscitate Welkom, Carletonville and what is left of the East Rand after the Aurora debacle. Even ERPM (East Rand Proprietary Mines) has areas that could be mined”, the former director of Sentrachem’s mining chemicals and explosives department told Mining Weekly.
Robinson recalls that SBM doesn’t require roof bolting systems, as the mine roof is not fractured.
Although you cannot do a blast without some shock waves, SBM’s predominantly going to be a drum roll rather than a big bang.
With a very simply hydraulic ram, the pile of rocks at the back of the stope is compacted to provide support.
While using SMB, only reef is taken to the surface for processing, thus eliminating the cost of transporting waste rock. Besides, haulage and grinding costs are reduced by two-thirds, while 100 percent of the gold can be recovered.
Robinson even thinks this technique is one step ahead of AngloGold Ashanti’s automated raise-boring technology, an automated mechanical cutting method that enables mining to continue at great depths.