Greener blasting

 The mining industry has a bad reputation for waste.

Many of the byproducts of mining are toxic and difficult to dispose of safely.

One product the industry tears through is oil.

The industry typically uses a high level of oil in normal vehicle and machinery operations, so what
happens to all this waste

Previously it was just discarded, or recycled at some expense, but it had purity problems and created expensive, lower quality oil that was not as good as new oil.

So what could be done with this waste?

Downer Blasting Services is now refining a process that uses this waste oil as a partial substitute for the diesel fuel used in ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) blasting mixtures, cutting down on oil waste and diesel usage on site.

Speaking to Downer Blasting Services’ executive general manager blasting, Cliff Gale, he told Australian Mining that the company has been moving quickly in this area.

“We have already carried out field trials in the use of waste oil blended ANFO at a Downer serviced coal mine,” Gale said.

While the potential of waste oil in ANFO has been investigated before, it has never had any major research done into its use in blasting.

“Others have toyed with the idea before but we have put a significant focus on the technology, with a view on being the leaders in this field,” Gale stated.

According to the company it carried out trials of a ten per cent blend (ten per cent recycled oil and 90 per cent diesel) at a Queensland coal mine between March and June last year.

Downer Blasting Services is now reportedly looking to conduct field trials of a new 30 per cent blend, which has already been proven in laboratory tests.

“Laboratory results also indicated that the recycled oil may also increase the sleep time of the ANFO” allowing for greater planning of blast patterns ahead of time.

Gale went on to say that “waste fuel is really an exciting development area.

“Currently the waste oil is taken off site where it is partially refined for addition to ANFO, however the aim is to close the loop so the processing facilities are at the mine, so that the oil never leaves the site.”

Downer Blasting Services added that if recycled oil in ANFO is implemented permanently at a mine site, it will significantly reduce the amount of diesel required on site, providing both a solution to waste oil and the rising cost of diesel fuel, which is set to increase from July due to the cutting of the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme.

According to the company, it has an agreement in place with an unnamed environmental technology provider to develop a wide, cost-effective reprocessing solution for waste oil, and following these developments, plans are in place to move through to the next stage of trials.

Downer Blasting Services is also working on blasting products with lower fume production, looking to create emulsions with lower water contents to prevent nitrous oxide fume events from occurring. 

“The aim is develop more mine specialised products,” Gale added.


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