Peculiaritiesblasting in undergroundof drilling and small-scale mines

Jacopo Seccatore, Patricio Gonzalez, Miguel Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) is a prominent activity in the extractive industry: considering only gold, it produces about 20% of the world market supply. Despite this fact, ASM is generally associated with the negative aspects of its environmental impact, and operational research is generally neglected. This article emphasizes the peculiarity of the drilling and blasting systems of small underground mines in selected South American Countries. Such Countries, while having large mineral deposits and well recognized large-scale mining activities, at the same time still present on their territory ASM activities that are archaic, highly inefficient and dangerous for the safety of its operators. This article documents drilling and blasting activities from gold mining in Ecuador and Chile. First, described are the outdated and often non-rational techniques employed by miners, to provide a general framework of the current methods. Then, shown is what can be improved and how the current methods can be modified. Finally, some field applications and the comparisons of the results obtained are presented. One case shows how blast pull efficiency can be increased from 82% to 98% by changing non-rational applications of explosive products to rational, scientific-based employment. Another case shows how, by rationalizing blast designs, drilling and blasting costs can be reduced by 9% per month, the advance by blasting increased by 29% and the pull efficiency increased from 70% to 90%. Finally, it is concluded that examples of application show how operational improvements are easily applicable in the field, relying only on tools and resources of artisanal mining, but combining solid engineering bases with confidence-gain and respect for the experience of the miners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalRevista Escola de Minas
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Artisanal mining
  • Drill and blast
  • Underground mining


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