The Alternative Explosives project, one of Mining3’s flagship research initiatives, has received support from Southern Oil Refining to find ways to improve the productivity, sustainability, and safety of the mining industry through blasting without toxic fumes.
Mining3 Chief Executive Officer, Prof Paul Lever, said Southern Oil is contributing alternative fuel materials for testing in new hydrogen peroxide-based formulations, and providing technical support for detonation testing to characterise the explosive being developed at Mining3.
“For many decades, the use of ammonium nitrate-based commercial explosives has been the product of choice for the mining industry. While highly effective, they do have drawbacks,” Lever said.
“Ammonium nitrate-based explosives do not always detonate efficiently; leading to harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) fumes – posing serious risks to human and environmental health and causing production delays in surface and underground mining operations. Current engineering and administrative controls do not always give desired outcomes.”
Mining3’s Alternative Explosives project is testing explosive formulations that replace the nitrogen component with hydrogen peroxide. This is a simple, harmless compound predominately made up of water that completely eliminates post-blast NOx fumes, Lever said.
Mining3 Alternative Explosives Research Scientist, Dr Andrew Kettle, said the collaboration with Southern Oil added great value to the research through supply-chain depth and commercialisation momentum.
“Southern Oil’s support has enabled us to make significant modifications and enhancements to hydrogen peroxide-based explosive formulations. The raw material selection and technical support has been critical to extending the important testing work being undertaken in both the lab and the field,” he said.
“We are very much looking forward to the next few months of research…Our work will be invigorated by new and important opportunities to test the stability and detonation characterisations of our non-toxic explosive formulations.”
Southern Oil, which joins the The Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program and the University of Queensland on the project, is a privately-owned Australian company that re-refines waste lube oil for reuse and produces no waste, while its products reduce the need for oil imports and have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than crude base oils, Mining3 said.
Mining3 is a leading research organisation, directed by its global industry members to develop and deliver transformational technology to improve the productivity, sustainability, and safety of the mining industry.