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International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126

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Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences
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Technical Note

An empirical relation to calculate the proper burden in blast design

of open pit mines based on modication of the Konya relation
H. Inanloo Arabi Shad a, K. Ahangari b,n
Department of Mining Engineering, Islamic Azad University, South Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran
Department of Mining Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:
Received 6 April 2011
Received in revised form
8 May 2012
Accepted 13 July 2012
Available online 25 August 2012

1. Introduction time of the imprisonment of explosive gases deriving from explosion

in blasthole is increased, pressure is produced behind the blasthole,
The trial and error method and engineers experiences are used and thus backbreak is increased. Subsequently, by decreasing
for drilling pattern design in most open pit mines. The burden fragmentation, toe problem occurs and vibration increases. Monjezi
parameter is one of the most important and critical variables of et al. [24] showed by using articial neural networks that the
blast pattern design in open pit mines so that other blasting burden is the most effective parameter on backbreak and fragmen-
variables are associated with it. The purpose of this research is to tation of muck pile. If the burden thickness is too great, the front
formulate the burden parameter for the Chadormalu iron ore mine rock mass of blasthole does not move and causes high depreciation
and generalize the obtained equation to other open pit mines in in loading machines and bulldozers. Correct and proper burden
Iran. At rst, the used burden parameter in main pit in Chadormalu selection results in proper fragmentation of muck pile. This matter
iron ore is compared with the existing empirical relations. In this depends directly on the cost of mining operations in different units
regard, a new relation has been obtained based on data from other (such as the costs of loading, hauling and rock crushing) [5,6].
open pit mines in Iran. The base of this equation is modication of Researchers have offered numerous relationships for calculat-
the Konya relation and consideration for bench height. The result- ing burden until now [720]. All of these relations are used for the
ing equation has been used in designing and optimizing the design of a basic blasting pattern. An optimized blasting pattern is
southern mass in Chadormalu iron ore mine, which has a different applied after reviewing and considering the problems of the basic
bench height with respect to the northern one. The results include pattern.
reduction in excavation costs, backbreak, number of boulders in
muck pile (respectively 27%, 56% and 67%), elimination of toe
problems and increase in excavation rate (36%) in comparison to 2. Geology of Chadormalu iron ore mine
the primary pattern.
Blasting pattern design is the rst step in the open pit mining Chadormalu iron ore mine is located 165 km west of Yazd city
cycle. The minimum distance between the free face and the axis in the center of Iran. It is situated between 321170 N and 551300 E.
of the blasthole is called burden that is the most important and From geological and tectonics viewpoints, this mine is one of the
critical variable in blast designing of open pit mines [1]. The most complicated areas of Iran. The existence of a variety of
thickness of burden depends on other blasting factors and its materials, rocks, faults and shear zones is one of its character-
variance has great effects on blasting consequences. The effects of istics. Geological reserve of the ore deposit is 400 million tons and
this factor are considerable. If the thickness of burden is too little, the minable reserve is 330 million tons. So far, 140 million tons of
yrock and air blast are increased, the rock becomes much more minable reserves were extracted. The average grade of iron, which
fragmented, a lot of noise is created, and a signicant part of the is concentrated in both the northern and southern parts of
explosive energy is wasted. If the thickness of burden is excessive, Chadormalu ore deposit, is 55%. Most parts of the northern
portion are composed of magnetite and contained of 90% of the
reserve while the southern one is mostly formed from hematite.
Corresponding author. Tel.: 98 9124598214; fax: 98 21 44869744. According to the 30-year old mine plan, the mine depth is 225 m
E-mail address: (K. Ahangari). starting from the 1525 m to the 1330 m level. Mining operations

1365-1609/$ - see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
122 H. Inanloo Arabi Shad, K. Ahangari / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126

are currently carried out. The approximate diameter of the pit and
maximum height of the nal wall are 1200 m and 165 m
respectively. Six drilling machines, four hydraulic shovels, three
cable shovels, 25 trucks with a capacity of 130 t and various
supporting equipments are utilized.

3. Comparison of the empirical relations with drilling

patterns used in Chadormalu mine

Drilling operation and blasting in Chadormalu mine are

executed with drilling machines having 165 mm and 251 mm
blasthole diameters. Excavation operation is carried out in 15 m
benches in the main pit mine (northern mass). In the drilling
pattern design phase (using the trial and error method), excava-
tion operation, which recently commenced in southern mass, is
carried out by only drilling machines with 165 mm blasthole
diameter and 10 m height benches. The drilling pattern used in
the main pit mine is the stagger type. Respectively, burden and
spacing in iron ore drill are 6 m and 7 m for 251 mm diameter Fig. 1. No displacement and having toe problem in the designed pattern based on
with spacing to burden (S/B) ratio of 1.17. Sub-drilling in iron ore the Konya empirical relation in the southern mass of Chadormalu iron mine.
varies from 1.5 m to 2 m with an average of 1.7 m. Drilling pattern
in the waste rock is also stagger type. Burden, spacing and sub- Table 2
drilling for 165 mm diameter drill are respectively 4.5 m, 5.2 m, Percentage of absolute error for burdens utilized in empirical relations compared
and 1.5 m with spacing to burden ratio of 1.15. The design to the used burdens in the mine.

patterns used in Chadormalu mine are based on the trial and Ore mineral- Waste-165 Iron-165 Waste-251 Iron-251
error method, and engineering experience. Table 1 summarizes blast hole (mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)
the blasting patterns utilized in Chadormalu mine. diameter diameter diameter diameter diameter
In order to design the pattern of the southern mass, the
Empirical Absolute error percentage of burdens utilized in empirical
empirical relations which were used for various blasting patterns
relations in comparison with the used burdens in the mine
in the main pit of Chadormalu iron mine (northern mass) were
studied. Each empirical relation includes specic parameters. The Anderson [7] 27 54 1 18
empirical relations introduced by [11,15,16,20] are consistent Fraenkel [8] 278 129 240 99
with the blasting patterns. Figs. 13 and Table 2 represent the Pearse [9] 31 2 27 5
Allsman [10] 20 235 129 156
accordance in regard to burden with the empirical relations Ash [11] 9 11 11 17
(Diagrams 14). Longfores and 22 19 24 7
As the diagrams and table indicate, the empirical relation dened Kihlstrom [12]
by Konya [15] and shown below presents the least variance with the Hansen [13] 50 65 36 45
Ucar [14] 36 65 20 40
blasting patterns used in the main pit of Chadormalu mine:
Konya [15] 2 4 3
B 3:15Dre =rr 0:33 1 Konya and 4 2 6 3
Walter [16]
where B is the burden (foot), re is the specic gravity of explosive, rr Berta [17] 11 62 3 8
Olofsson [18] 20% 22 16 27
is the specic gravity of rock, and D is the diameter of explosive
Rustan [19] 16 41 0 17
(inch). Lopez Jimeno 2 8 0 13
The above relation was selected for designing and optimizing et al. [20]
the blasting pattern. In the used and designed pattern for the
southern mass of iron ore mine and according to the Konya [15]
empirical relation, the values of burden and spacing are respec- and the southern mass is the bench height. It is concluded that
tively 3.7 m and 4.2 m and the ratio of burden to spacing is 1.15. benches with 15 m height are appropriate for Chadormalu mine
The results of using this blasting pattern show that the muck pile main pit in the relations, which are more in accordance with the
did not move and it exhibits toe problems (Fig. 1). One of the used blasting patterns than the others.
relevant parameters on this problem is large value for burden.
According to similarity of the used parameters of the Konya
empirical relation and approximate closeness of rock mechanical
parameters of the southern mass with the iron ore of the main 4. Effect of bench height in Konya empirical relation
mine pit, the only different parameter between the main mine pit
The relevant parameters for blast design are categorized into
Table 1 two groups: controllable and uncontrollable. One of the control-
Historical blasting patterns used for Chadormalu mine. lable parameters on blasting is bench height. The higher bench
height leads to the higher rock column in front of the blasthole. By
Ore Density Blast hole diameter Burden Spacing
mineral (g/cm3) (mm) (m) (m) increasing the height of rock column, its strength decreases.
Therefore, the rock column should be better broken in such
Iron 4.5 251 6 7 condition. In order to demonstrate this matter, the ratio of bench
Waste 2.7 251 7 8 height to the thickness of burden is named stiffness ratio. The
Iron 4.5 165 3.7 4.2
Waste 2.7 165 4.5 5.2
greater this ratio is, the higher the height of bench is and the
weaker the rock column is. In contrast, if the benches are short,
H. Inanloo Arabi Shad, K. Ahangari / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126 123

Waste-Diameter (165)

Lopez Jimeno (1995) 4.6

Rustan (1990) 5.2
Olofsson (1990) 5.4
Berta (1985) 5

Empirical relations
Konya (1983) 4.3
Konya (1972) 4.4
Ucar (1972) 6.1
Hansen (1967) 6.75
Longfores (1963) 3.5
Ash (1963) 4.1
Allsman (1960) 13.5
Pearse (1955) 5.9
Fraenkel (1952) 17
Anderson (1952) 5.7
Mine 4.5
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

Diagram 1. Accordance between burden of the used blasting patterns in the waste of the main pit of Chadormalu iron mine and empirical relations by considering
165 mm diameter.

Iron-Diameter (165)
Lopez Jimeno (1995) 3.4
Rustan (1990) 5.2
Olofsson (1990) 4.5
Berta (1985) 6
Konya (1983) 3.76
Empirical relations

Konya (1972) 3.7

Ucar (1972) 6.1
Hansen (1967) 6.1
Longfores (1963) 3
Ash (1963) 3.3
Allsman (1960) 12.4
Pearse (1955) 3.76
Fraenkel (1952) 8.47
Anderson (1952) 5.7
Mine 3.7
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Diagram 2. Accordance between burden of the used blasting patterns in the ore of the main pit of Chadormalu iron mine and empirical relations by considering 165 mm

Waste-Diameter (251)
Lopez Jimeno (1995) 7
Rustan (1990) 7
Olofsson (1990) 8.1
Berta (1985) 7.2
Empirical relations

Konya (1983) 6.6

Konya (1972) 6.7
Ucar (1972) 8.4
Hansen (1967) 9.5
Longfores (1963) 5.33
Ash (1963) 6.2
Allsman (1960) 16
Pearse (1955) 8.9
Fraenkel (1952) 23.82
Anderson (1952) 7.1
Mine 7
0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28

Diagram 3. Accordance between burden of the used blasting patterns in the waste of the main pit of Chadormalu iron mine and empirical relations by considering
251 mm diameter.

the column rock is strong. If H/B 1, the blast will be highly applicable for benches with 15 m height; thus, the value of h0 is
conned, resulting in severe toe problem, and backbreak. On the considered equal to 15 and is used in new relation. The new
contrary, if the H/B4 4, there is little connement and the relation is as follows:
explosive gases will be vented at the free face and will result in
B aDre =rr b h=ho c 2
airblast and yrock. It is found that a stiffness ratio of 34 produces
good results [2022]. Therefore, it was decided that the Konya where B is the burden (meter), re is the density of explosive
empirical relation be modied with bench height added to it. In (g/cm3), rr is the density of rock (g/cm3), D is the blasthole
order to use the effect of bench height, (h/h0) is considered in the diameter (meter), h is the bench height (meter) and h0 is the
Konya relation. According to the obtained results from the inves- height of reference bench (meter). In order to nd constant
tigation of empirical relations, the given relation by Konya is coefcients for the above relation, information from the use of
124 H. Inanloo Arabi Shad, K. Ahangari / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126

Iron-Diameter (251)
Lopez Jimeno (1995) 5.2
Rustan (1990) 7
Olofsson (1990) 7.6
Berta (1985) 6.5

Empirical relations
Konya (1983) 5.8
Konya (1972) 5.8
Ucar (1972) 8.4
Hansen (1967) 8.7
Longfores (1963) 5.6
Ash (1963) 5
Allsman (1960) 15.33
Pearse (1955) 5.7
Fraenkel (1952) 11.96
Anderson (1952) 7.1
Mine 6
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

Diagram 4. Accordance between burden of the used blasting patterns in the ore of the main pit of Chadormalu iron mine and empirical relations by considering 251 mm

Table 3
Information obtained from different mines in Iran.

Mine name Ore mineral Rock density Density of explosives Bench height Blast hole diameter Burden Spacing of blast
(g/cm3) (g/cm3) (m) (mm) (m) hole (m)

Chadormalu (Iron) Ore 4.5 0.9 15 251 6 7

(Iron) Ore 4.5 0.9 15 165 3.7 4.2
Waste 2.7 0.9 15 251 7 8
Waste 2.7 0.9 15 165 4.5 5.2
Gol Gohar (Iron) Ore 4.2 0.9 15 251 6 7.5
(Iron) Ore 4.2 0.9 15 165 3.5 4.5
Waste 2.7 0.9 15 251 6.5 7.5
Waste 2.7 0.9 15 165 4.5 6
Choghart (Iron) Ore 4.3 0.9 10 165 3 4
Waste 2.8 0.9 10 165 4 5
Waste 2.6 0.9 10 165 4.5 5
Sechahun (Iron) Ore 4.2 0.85 10 165 3.2 4
Waste 2.77 0.85 10 165 4 5
Sar- (Copper) Ore 2.15 1.3 12.5 229 7.5 9.5
(Copper) Ore 2.26 1.3 12.5 229 7 9
Waste 2.74 1.3 12.5 229 6.5 5.8
Khash Limestone 2.7 0.85 12 76 2.1 2.1

Table 4
Results obtained from new blasting pattern in comparison with the primary pattern.

Backbreak (m) Number of boulders Use of bulldozer (hour) Toe problem Secondary blast for Number of
eliminating toe problem loading days

Primary pattern 8 1530 144.5 Yes Yes 7

New pattern 3.5 510 54.5 No No 4.5
Difference between new pattern 56 67 62 NA NA 36
and former (%)

the Konya empirical relation together with the bench heights of 5. Pattern design in the southern mass of Chadormalu mine
various mines of Iran including Chadormalu iron ore mine was with new burden equation
collected. Table 3 summarizes data from various mines of Iran. The
patterns used in ore and waste are separately shown. Using the new equation, the amount of burden obtained is
The values of the coefcients were determined based on the 3 m. The used pattern is of stagger type with 3.5 m spacing and
data collected by using nonlinear regression. Nonlinear regression 1.15 ratio of spacing to burden. The results of using the new
involves estimation of the coefcients in a nonlinear relationship pattern with the primary one show appropriate displacements,
between independent and dependent variables. In this study, SPSS absence of muck pile interlocking, elimination of toe problems,
V.16 software was used for statistical and regression analysis. The decreased use of bulldozers that are utilized for helping loading
values of a, b, and c coefcients are respectively 39.97, 0.352, and machines, and increasing excavation rates (2.5 days sooner than
0.271 with correlation coefcient of y2 0.975. Based on these the previous block) in latter pattern. Table 4 compares two
coefcients, the second relation is modied as below blasting patterns with equal volumes. Figs. 2 and 3 display the
results of blasting using the new pattern.
The excavation costs from the used patterns and the secondary
B 39:97Dre =rr 0:352 h=150:271 3 blasting, including blasting costs (explosives, primer and detonator),
H. Inanloo Arabi Shad, K. Ahangari / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126 125

drilling costs (depreciation, fuel, personnel, and maintenance) and in excavation costs. The costs of both patterns together with
bulldozer use, that are the main excavation costs in Chadormalu secondary blasting are given in Table 5.
iron ore mine, were calculated. After calculating, the costs were According to the table, the costs of excavation with the new
divided by the volume of the block. The results show 36% decrease pattern (Rial/m3) are 14,729.56 while the costs of the excavation
using the primary pattern (Rial/m3) are 20,060.59. This shows
27% decrease in the costs of the new pattern compared to the
primary one.
Applying blasting parameters such as burden, spacing of
blastholes, powder factor, etc. by new pattern and using these
parameters in the empirical relations, the obtained burdens from
various empirical relations are compared with the burden calcu-
lated from the new equation. One of the obtained burdens is
calculated by the relation introduced by Lambooy and Jones [23].
This relation is as follows:
B hW e =SHq 4
where B is the burden (meter), S is the spacing of blastholes
(meter), We is the weight of explosives per meter of blasthole (kg/
m), h is the length of charge in blasthole (meter), H is the bench
Fig. 2. Appropriate displacement of muck pile in new designing pattern in the height (meter), and q is the powder factor (kg/m3). One of the
southern mass of Chadormalu iron mine. disadvantages of the above formula is the absence of absolute
amount of powder factor parameter. The powder is currently
being researched.

6. Model validation

In order to investigate the validity of the rendered equation to

other mines, the burdens used in Esphordi, Jalal Abad and Sungun
mines (Iran) were compared with the new relation (Table 6).
The calculated burden column mentioned in the above table is
the burden obtained from the relation introduced in this research.
The actually used burdens in Esphordi, Jalal Abad Iron and Sungun
mines are close to the calculated ones.
The variance values between the calculated burden by the new
burden relation and the actual used burden in the three men-
tioned open pit mines are respectively 2.9% and 5%, which
represent little difference. In this study, data from 6 open pit
mines were used as reference to obtain the coefcients for the
new burden relation and data from 3 other open pit mines are
utilized for relation validation. The results indicate that the newly
developed burden relation has a reasonable capability for burden
Fig. 3. Absence of toe problem and ease in using loading machines in new
designing pattern in the southern mass of Chadormalu iron mine. design in nine open pit mines with different geological conditions
in Iran.

Table 5
Costs calculated for both patterns together with the secondary blast. 7. Conclusion

Costs Blasting Drilling Use of Total Difference The study of empirical burden relations reveals that relations
(Rial/m3) (Rial/m3) bulldozer cost between
3 dened [11,15,16,20] are well in consistence with the blasting
(Rial/m ) (Rial) former and
new pattern patterns used in the Chadormalu iron mine. Among these rela-
(%) tions, the Konya [15] relation has the least difference with the
blasting patterns utilized in the main pit of the mine.
New pattern 4884.71 7333.33 2511.52 14,759.2627 The blasting pattern based on the Konya empirical relation
Primary pattern 3467.28 5204.3 6658.98 15,330.56
Secondary blast 2713.9 2016.13 4730.03
that was designed for the southern mass of the mine did not show
good blasting results. This matter could relate to the difference

Table 6
The calculated burdens with blasting information of Sungun copper, Jalal Abad Iron and Esphordi phosphate mines for validation.

Mine name Rock type Rock density Explosives Bench height Diameter of Practical burden Calculated difference
(g/cm3) density (g/cm3) (m) blast hole (mm) (m) burden (m) between (%)

Sungun Copper 2.52 0.9 12.5 127 3.4 3.3 2.9

Jalal Abad Iron 4.3 0.9 12.5 165 3.5 3.5 0
Esphordi Apatite 2.48 0.9 7 76 1.8 1.7 5
126 H. Inanloo Arabi Shad, K. Ahangari / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 56 (2012) 121126

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