Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Rock, J, Maurer, A and Pereira, N, Coming of Age for Low-Density Explosives, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 2005: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2005, 175-182.


Low-density explosives have been developed with trials being conducted for over 20 years and yet have still only gained limited market acceptance despite producing some very promising results. The biggest concern with industry acceptance has been disbelief that a product with lower density than the ANFO benchmark could fragment anything but the weakest of strata. Trials have been carried out with products such as diluted ANFO, low-density ammonium nitrate (AN) and various other mixes, although it has been only recently that low-density explosives have been accepted as a serious alternative to traditional products such as ANFO and heavy ANFO. The recent uptake of low-density products has been the result of several key factors: • the current resources boom forcing AN supply issues, • the development of new handling techniques, and • a far better understanding of the utilisation of such products. This paper highlights the benefits of low-density products available in the market and focuses on the situations where low-density explosives can provide the end user with benefits that would otherwise be achieved through more time consuming methods. Through correct implementation, low-density explosives can provide the blast designer with another option when looking at the optimum method of breaking the rock. This while still controlling the other limiting factors such as cost, environmental impacts (noise, vibration, dust and fumes), coal damage and safety (stable walls).