Storage and transporting of explosives and its associated raw materials come with a fair amount of risk. Explosive manufacturers have a responsibility to its customers, the communities in which it operates and the public at large to ensure its safety. AECI Mining Explosives says it has once again addressed this issue through innovation with the development of a “ground-breaking” alternative booster technology manufactured from non-explosive raw materials.
The manufacture of boosters or primers from pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) (or cyclo-trimethylene trinitramine (RDX) and trinitrotoluene (TNT) has been unrivalled for decades in terms of performance and reliability. It remains the preferred method globally as an intermediary part of the detonation train due to its ease of initiation from a detonator and high velocity of detonation (VoD). That PETN, RDX and TNT have proven itself to perform reliably when manufactured correctly is no point of contention, however, due to its chemical make-up, it requires sophisticated plants and specialised raw material facilities for its manufacture.
The handling of energetic materials and explosive raw materials are by nature hazardous and therefore highly regulated in the interest of public safety. This introduces some costly challenges, alludes Hazel Bomba, Product Manager at AECI Mining Explosives. As a result, the ability to position booster manufacturing sites in more geographical areas, to make the product more accessible, is limited.
AECI Mining Explosives is developing an alternative booster technology, wherein a high powered, explosive booster is manufactured from non-explosive raw materials. The alternative booster technology is currently being trialed in the field following extensive laboratory testing. AECI Mining Explosives is confident that its innovative PowerBoost product will be market-ready by Q1-2022.
As demand for resources continually surges to sustain global growth, the need for mining activity correspondingly increases. The need for boosters has subsequently increased says Bomba. Benefits of storing non-explosive raw materials and only produce boosters as required offer far-reaching gains to the mining fraternity. These include the ability to reduce the booster magazine storage capacity, while the opportunity to adapt the Mine’s licence to operate as a booster manufacturing facility can be a stimulus for localisation.
“This alternative technology opens up the opportunity for so much more. AECI Mining Explosives has been trialling and optimising the booster design to the extent that its PowerBoost technology outperforms the equivalent Pentolite (PETN and TNT) boosters. The use of non-explosive raw materials in booster technology simplifies logistics, has the potential to lower manufacturing costs and creates the ability to deploy simple mobile modular plants to strategically placed manufacturing hubs,” concludes Bomba.