The blasting operation plays a pivotal role in the overall economics of opencast mines. The blasting sub-system affects all the other associated sub-systems, i.e. loading, transport, crushing and milling operations. Fragmentation control through effective blast design and its effect on productivity are the challenging tasks for practicing blasting engineer due to inadequate knowledge of actual explosive energy released in the borehole, varying initiation practice in blast design and its effect on explosive energy release characteristic. This paper describes the result of a systematic study on the impact of blast design parameters on rock fragmentation at three mines in India. The mines use draglines and shovel–dumper combination for removal of overburden. Despite its pivotal role in controlling the overall economics of a mining operation, the expected blasting performance is often judged almost exclusively on the basis of poorly defined parameters such as powder factor and is often qualitative which results in very subjective assessment of blasting performance. Such an approach is very poor substitutes for accurate assessment of explosive and blasting performance. Ninety one blasts were conducted with varying blast designs and charging patterns, and their impacts on the rock fragmentation were documented. A high-speed camera was deployed to record the detonation sequences of the blasts. The efficiency of the loading machines was also correlated with the mean fragment size obtained from the fragmentation analyses.