Blast Monitoring – What it is, Why it’s Essential

For mining companies, blast monitoring is a crucial element of environmental compliance. It is essential to preserving the structural integrity of all structures in the area. It is also essential to the health and safety of all people in proximity to the mining site. Monitoring blasts is also a more complex process than monitoring noise, because noise is not the only by-product of a blast. You also need to measure blast overpressure (sometimes called simply overpressure).

Atmospheric pressure (also known as barometric pressure) is the force that the weight of air exerts on a surface. An explosion causes a disturbance in the prevailing atmospheric pressure with transient shockwaves. In turn, the shockwaves create airborne pressure over and above the atmospheric pressure. After the spike in pressure, the level falls to a value below the atmospheric pressure. The process then repeats itself in a diminishing series of waves before returning to the prevailing atmospheric pressure. The excessive pressure is known as blast overpressure.

Why Blast Monitoring Matters

Blast overpressure can be extremely dangerous to people and damaging to nearby buildings and structures. Exposure to it can cause severe injury, deafness, or death in humans. Overpressure from the type of blasting used at mines can easily collapse most buildings (indeed, explosives used to demolish buildings are mostly of a much lower calibre). Even blast overpressure that does no damage to a building can cause vibrations that comprise a community nuisance, or that are dangerous to sensitive equipment such as in a hospital.

As a result, blasting is severely regulated; it can take place only under specific weather conditions and under rigorous parameters. Blast monitoring entails measuring blast overpressure to ensure compliance with those parameters. Although blast overpressure is technically a type of noise, a conventional microphone cannot record or monitor it properly. Because blast overpressure involves both audible and inaudible frequencies, measuring it requires a specialized type of microphone that can record both. It is essential that mining companies use the proper equipment to monitor their blasting and ensure that the overpressure stays within limits. Regulations vary by country and sometimes within countries, but the International Society of Explosive Engineers (ISEE) provides a widely accepted standard of requirements.

Blast Monitoring is a must for mining

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