Over the last 10 years the benefits of optimizing both blast designs and operation of crushing and grinding processes, also known as drill-to-mill optimization, have been shown at a number of mining operations. Significant improvements in production and revenue potential are typically associated with the successful implementation of drill-to-mill strategies. Less information is available on the impact of energy intensity with respect to all fuels used.

To address the technical challenges of implementing drill-to-mill strategies, an energy study was carried out for a Canadian open-pit copper mine. In addition to quantifying improvements in energy intensity and impact on carbon footprint, the associated cost benefits due to increased production are also presented.

For many existing and future operations, the implementation of carbon taxes in their respective jurisdictions and increased energy unit costs have provided more economic incentive to reduce the energy intensity of mining processes. For this reason it is of interest to determine the impact of modifying blast designs on the overall energy intensity of an operation.