Blasting Highwall Optimization Way Forward

Another Way Forward team is ensuring safe, cost-effective mining of more areas of the pit by improving highwall integrity.

A geotechnical audit in May 2013 identified deficient highwall integrity at Round Mountain’s open pit mine operation, leading to potential safety concerns and reduced ability to mine design ore targets. The geotechnical team worked on improving highwall stability immediately. However, for this effort to be successful, cooperation and involvement was required from many departments at the mine.

A cross-functional team was formed in June 2013 to provide support and focus on optimizing highwall stability and safety, while achieving design. The departments involved included Geotechnical, Geology, Mine Planning, Survey, Mine, Drilling and Blasting, CI and Hydrology. The team focused on improving communications through daily and weekly meetings, blasting technique, highwall optimization, and geotechnical review.

As of January 2014, Round Mountain’s highwalls have improved as a result of better communication, greater understanding of geotechnical conditions, use of trim shots and pre-splits, powder factor optimization, and improved overall design and execution. These results now allow Round Mountain to mine in more complicated areas, while maintaining design pit slopes with improved safety and reduced costs.

A before photo of the highwall at Round Mountain. 

An after photo of the highwall at Round Mountain.

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