Varis Smart Blast advances

Matt Ward of Varis tells IM that the company now has Smart Blast systems operating at Lac des Isles mine in northwest Ontario, Canada, Falconbridge Fraser mine in Sudbury, Canada and will be implementing a system at FNX’s McCreedy West mine in Sudbury (IM, May 2006, Operation Focus).

Ward says the benefits are numerous. The two-way communication ensures that the blast supervisor knows at all times the status of the system, including whether or not the blast was initiated. The system saves time as the initiation can be performed as soon as all personnel are in safe areas. There are also instances where long lines of shock tube were replaced with Smart Blast and 30 m of shock tube, with significant cost and cleanup savings.

“What we have learned through these experiences,” he says, ” is that the mine needs to start treating the Leaky Feeder network as a critical piece of equipment. As more and more services are put onto the Leaky Feeder any failure due to cable damage must be detected, located and repaired as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, all Varis Smart Com amplifiers have local and remote diagnostics. The remote diagnostic system can be configured to send out emails or phone calls when problems with the network are detected.

“Smart Blast is a success as it improves safety, increases production and reduces cost. Payback calculations to date show a ten-month return, not including the safety benefits.”