FOCUS JAN2020: Research & Development

Taking the blast out of drill+blast 16 Jan 2020

TunnelTalk reporting

Soundless chemical demolition agents as a method for rock breaking without using explosives is the focus of a CAN$1.5 million research investment by Natural Resources Canada. Led by Professor Hani Mitri, Director of Mining Engineering at McGill University, the project will create, test and validate chemical demolition agents and innovative rock drilling patterns that together enable rock breakage without blasting. The project is scheduled to run until December 2021, and the research team aims to begin publishing results from later this year.

Mine design laboratory at McGill University
Mine design laboratory at McGill University

SCDA, soundless chemical demolition agents, are similar to powdery cement and are used in the construction industry to demolish foundations. To facilitate injection, they are mixed with water to a slurry, which is pumped into the rock. When injected, they expand to exert pressure and cause the rock to break. In addition to avoiding the noise, vibrations and airborne debris associated with blasting, the method also avoids the need to ventilate the heading after blasts, which saves time and reduces cost.

Drilling practices would be similar to standard drill+blast operations, the different hole diameter and spacings. The fragmented rock is disposed of without the need for any special handling or storage measures.

Leader Professor Hani Mitri
Leader Professor Hani Mitri

“This technology will achieve a more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly technique for rock fragmentation,” said Professor Mitri.

The project is funded by the Clean Growth Program at Natural Resources Canada, which invests in clean technology research and development projects. The aim of the programme is to reduce greenhouse gases and other air-polluting emissions, while minimising landscape disturbance and improving waste management practices. Funding is also provided by the Science and Technology Assistance for Cleantech Projects.

“The research project is an example of how we can use intelligent, targeted investments to ensure Canada remains at the forefront of mining and tunnelling practices,” said Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources. “By investing in this and similar projects, we ensure that the country remains a leader in environmental stewardship, while creating a more prosperous mining and tunnelling industry.”


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