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June 9, 2015
A quarry in Latvia tried blast-free mining in an effort to reduce its environmental impact, and the results were so successful that it made the approach its main mining method.
Knauf Latvia produces construction materials in Sauriesi near Riga, the Latvian capital. Its gypsum quarry is a few kilometers away, and until recently the gypsum was excavated by drilling and blasting. To decrease blasting impacts on the environment, Knauf tried blastfree mining. The company invested in a Liebherr R974 excavator equipped with an Atlas Copco HB 7000 DP breaker.
Originally, the breaker was intended to be used only in areas near residents and the edges of the deposits. Blast-free mining is ideal for brittle stones in a thin layer, and it is more selective for situations where stone quality varies between the layers or when there is undesired material between them. However, after just three months, blast-free mining became the quarry’s main mining method.
Atlas Copco’s latest generation of heavy breakers requires less hydraulic input from the carrier while maintaining maximum impact performance. At the Knauf gypsum quarry, the average production of the excavator with the HB 7000 DP breaker attachment has reached a target of about 1 100 tons every 15-hour day.
In blast-free mining, the logistics chain is key. An efficient loading machine with a skilled operator and enough transportation capacity can increase productivity, because the breaker unit can focus on breaking the rocks. When the breaker is well positioned and stable, the operator can optimize excavated rock size according to the capacity of the crusher. Minimizing the breaking means higher productivity and lower costs thanks to reduced fuel consumption and less wear on consumables.