Simulation-based evaluation of blasthole drilling key performance metrics in surface mining

Kaya, Kıvanç
Open-pit mining is prominently recognized as one of the principal techniques in surface mines. In this complex process, operations flow smoothly from the initial stages of drilling and blasting to the subsequent steps of loading and hauling the material. In nearly all mining methods, drilling and blasting are the common techniques for rock breakage. Generally, drilling is performed to open holes where explosives can be placed to blast material for production. This condition highlights the importance of drilling and blasting within the broader context of mining operations. The multifunctional role of drilling is observed in a range of mining activities, from aiding in the in-depth exploration of mineral deposits, creating precise blast holes, playing a role in soil stabilization through grouting, ensuring adequate drainage mechanisms, to fortifying the mining terrain through ground support. Here, the current thesis study intends to develop an advanced event simulation algorithm tailored to clarify the dynamic interplay occurring during the production drilling operations at open-pit mines. This algorithm is designed to monitor, quantify, and evaluate the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the production drilling operations where multiple and interactive uncertainties can arise. Using event analysis simulations becomes vital in understanding primary and secondary factors involved in drilling activities. These flowcharts highlight the complex interactions and help to reveal the variability in performance across different components of a drilling operation. By employing such a comprehensive approach, operators can be equipped to account for and manage uncertainties due to changing operational, environmental, and equipment conditions. This enhanced perspective offers a more robust framework for decision-making and fine-tuning drilling processes to maximize efficiency. This study shows that geological structures, especially the distinction between clay/mud and rock materials, significantly impact penetration rates. While the average penetration rate in a complex environment (both clay/mud and rock) is 1.36 m/min, it can drop to as low as 0.66 m/min when confronted with clay or muddy materials. Penetration rates are directly influenced by these geological structures, leading to a 51% reduction in this instance. In addition, maintenance policies play a crucial role in equipment reliability, with proactive approaches often resulting in reduced downtime and reinforced operational efficiencies. The study identified that, within a year, a total of 225 malfunctions occurred due to the failures in driller components. Remarkably, 50% of these failures stemmed from bit wear. Moreover, operator competency stands out as another critical factor influencing drilling operations. Experienced crews can harness machinery optimally, achieving superior performance. Last, prolonged halts, averaging 300 hours per year, mainly due to weather conditions, emphasize the necessity for adaptable operational strategies. Analysis results affirm that equipment, when regularly maintained and monitored, and operated by skilled crews across varied geological settings, ensures optimal drilling operations.
Citation Formats
K. Kaya, “Simulation-based evaluation of blasthole drilling key performance metrics in surface mining,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2023.