Shotfirers’ Role in the Mining Process
The shotfirers’ role is integral to the success of drill and blast operations in the mining industry.
Drilling and blasting are the most efficient and practical ways of transforming solid rock into a diggable and processable size to extract the minerals and elements required by industry.
Shotfirers are the licensed personnel, responsible for the safe handling, storage, transport and use of explosives on a mine site. This can mean, in simple terms, receiving deliveries of packaged and bulk explosives, managing the required paper work and safe storage in magazines and licensed facilities on site. Shotfirers are also responsible for allocating, transporting and using explosives in a safe and efficient way and with complete compliancy to the legislative requirements. On some major mine sites, this can mean keeping track of tens of thousands of explosive articles and hundreds of tonnes of bulk explosives every month, as all of them need to be accounted for and used correctly.
A typical day in the life of a shotfirer entails the following:
- Prestart meetings, preparing the crew for the tasks of that day.
- Obtaining and interpreting the blast plans – sometimes multiple shots are being loaded or are at various stages of preparation and loading.
- QA/QC all blast holes prior to loading, ensuring standards are met and redrills are being completed to standard.
- Retrieving explosives from the magazine and allocation to the required shots to be loaded.
- Organising bulk deliveries to site and again to the blast pattern to load.
- Overseeing and ensuring all blast holes are loaded correctly, with the correct type of explosives and charge weights.
- All holes are stemmed in surface, so ensuring the right amounts and quality of stemming material and assets are available to complete this task is a must.
- Ensuring that all holes are tied in as per the blast plan tie-in design.
- Understanding the blast schedule to ensure all tasks are done to standard within the specified or scheduled time frames.
- Clearing the area prior to blasting to ensure no personnel or equipment is within the blasting zone and securing this area during blasting.
- Firing the shot, on time, without any safety issues.
- Clearing the shot after the blast to ensure all explosives have fired as intended and that the designed results have been achieved.
- Completing all paperwork associated with the use of each and every explosive consumed in the blast with respect to legislative requirements, and with respect to the designed blast.
- Preparing for the next sequence of QA/QC, loading and firing.
During all of this, the shotfirer will also be training junior staff, ensuring all staff under their direction are safe and working to a safe standard, all equipment is safe and operating to standard and ensuring all explosive articles are to specification and replenishment stocks are ordered and scheduled for delivery.