Orica is looking to set a new benchmark for blast loading designs in Latin America after deploying its Design for Outcome solution in the region.
The company, focused on integrating its digital blasting tools to improve outcomes, is leveraging its BlastIQ digital blast optimisation platform within this new solution, Angus Melbourne, Chief Commercial and Technology Officer of Orica, told delegates at Massmin 2020 last week.
In a presentation titled, ‘Blasting’s Critical Role in Extracting Ore’, Melbourne mentioned Design for Outcome as an example of where the company was delivering integrated digital solutions in Latin America.
“Design for Outcome is an automated continual optimisation solution that sets a new benchmark for blast loading designs,” he said. “It utilises data science to process both upstream and downstream data to automate blast designs. This produces tailored and optimised blast designs by reducing blast variability and explosive consumption while increasing productivity.”
Using machine-learning algorithms, Design for Outcome processes measured-while-drilling data to classify ground hardness throughout each blast hole and then match explosives energy to hardness domains to automatically generate tailored blast loading designs, Melbourne explained.
Through artificial intelligence, these algorithms are trained with the data received from the fleet control systems (FMS) and previous blast results. This enables final automation of the blasting design process and its execution in the field with Orica’s smart control systems and programming interfaces, loading the blast accurately according to the generated design. These elements combine to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved, Melbourne said.
“Digitally-enabled blasting solutions such as Design for Outcome are allowing us to work with customers in different ways, to think and act differently and expand our role in the mining value chain,” he said.
Such a solution is part of the company’s plans to automate its segment of the mining process. This goal was strengthened last month with the launch of the Orica and Epiroc jointly developed Avatel™ semi-automated explosives delivery system.
A key enabling technology of Avatel, which is built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, the company’s fully wireless initiation system. When combined with Orica’s LOADPlus™ smart control system, specifically designed on-board storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek™ Control bulk emulsion, Avatel provides customers with complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution, Orica says.
While referencing the second key pillar in Orica’s digital strategy, Melbourne highlighted the use of the company’s Bulkmaster™ 7 smart, connected explosives delivery system in Latin America during the virtual event.
The new delivery systems not only improve productivity but begin to digitise critical workflows between design and execution in drill and blast operations, according to Melbourne.
The Antamina copper mine in Peru, a joint venture between BHP, Glencore, Teck and Mitsubishi, will soon be leveraging such a system, with Melbourne confirming seven Bulkmaster 7 units had been shipped to the mine and were undergoing commissioning.
Orica’s third digitalisation pillar is the measurement of downstream impacts of the drill and blast process, which is where FRAGTrack™, the company’s automated rock fragmentation measurement device comes into play.
This device captures, analyses and reports real-time data for optimising blast operations, improving downstream productivity and tracking overall operational performance in mining and quarrying, Melbourne explained.
This system is active across several key customer sites in Latin America, with Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo operation in Chile being one of the first to adopt the technology in the world, according to Melbourne. He said the copper operation is using the insights to deliver efficiencies across the value chain through digitally enabled optimised blasting.