Tag Archives: Alberto Calderon

Orica to deliver tech and blasting services to Glencore’s Australia copper, zinc ops

Orica says it has been awarded a five-year explosives technology and services contract for Glencore’s Australia copper and zinc operations, effective January 2021.

Glencore, one of the world’s largest globally diversified natural resource companies, produces and markets a diverse range of metals and minerals, with its Australia copper and zinc operations including McArthur River Mine (Northern Territory), Lady Loretta Mine (Queensland), Mount Isa Mines (Queensland), Ernest Henry Mine (Queensland) and CSA Mine (New South Wales). Orica has an existing supply agreement with Glencore’s nickel and cobalt operations at Murrin Murrin, in Western Australia.

As part of the contract, Orica will deliver the full suite of explosives technology and blasting services across the Glencore copper and zinc operations in Australia, including supply of the fully wireless initiating system, WebGen™, BlastIQ™ digital blast optimisation suite of products and smart explosives delivery system, Bulkmaster™ 7.

This partnership further strengthens and expands Orica’s longstanding relationship with Glencore, the manufacturer of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems said.

Orica Chief Executive, Alberto Calderon, said: “Glencore is a key global diversified customer, and we are delighted to be partnering with them across their Australian copper and zinc operations, integrating our most advanced technologies and solutions to solve their more complex operational needs.

“Glencore’s Ernest Henry mine in northwest Queensland was the first site in the world to trial and adopt our wireless explosives technology, WebGen. This deal shows Glencore’s confidence in our technology roadmap as well as aligning with their strategic vision for technology to deliver added value to their operations.”

Orica will work closely with Glencore to ensure uninterrupted supply to each operation, during the rapid mobilisation and transition period, it said.

Orica moves a step closer to Exsa explosives takeover

Orica says it has completed the acquisition of 83.5% of shares in Peru’s Exsa, moving the Australia-listed firm closer to becoming the number one industrial explosives player in the country, Alberto Calderon says.

First announced in February, the acquisition will create a step-change in Orica’s manufacturing footprint, driving competitive advantage and an enhanced position in the Latin America market, with significant synergies available by combining Orica and Exsa’s operations, the company says.

Calderon, Orica’s Managing Director and CEO, said the company was delighted to welcome Exsa into the Orica family.

“This is a transformational acquisition for our company. It establishes Orica as the number one player in Peru, Latin America’s highest growth market, and transforms our entire initiating system footprint.

“We now look forward bringing our two great businesses together and delivering the many meaningful and tangible synergies that will drive revenue and productivity across the region.”

Orica expects to complete the tender offer process for the remaining shares by the end of the calendar year.

Peru’s number one manufacturer and distributor of industrial explosives, Exsa provides technical assistance and support to the mining (particularly gold and copper) industries. It has a significant share in both Peru underground and open-pit markets, according to Orica, with an efficient supply chain, comprehensive sales distribution network and strategically located ammonium nitrate emulsion assets in north, central and south Peru.

Its initiation systems and packaged explosives capability is market-leading with a new, semi-automated and integrated initiation systems manufacturing facility in Lurin, Peru, according to the company.

Orica’s WebGen and BlastIQ technologies gaining global references

During Orica’s investor day last week it became apparent that its innovations – namely wireless initiation technology and a digital drilling and blasting platform – are gaining traction across the globe.

Orica has made investments in technologies such as WebGen™ and and BlastIQ™ as part of a shift towards automated drilling and blasting, realising that the days of fully mechanised operations are still some way off.

Alberto Calderon, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, set the scene by saying that the world is expected to extract around 3.6 billion tonnes more material in 2023 compared with what was achieved in 2018.

In addition to increased demands being placed on companies involved in mining when it comes to environmental and social responsibility, ore deposits are becoming more difficult to access, he said.

“[They are] often found in remote, difficult to reach parts of our world, and sometimes in the harshest of settings,” he said.

Orica is well equipped to deal with this, having technical expertise, logistics, and experience to allow blasting to continue, he said. He cited Indonesia, and near volcanic earth where the ground is hot and reactive, as an example of the company’s ability to negotiate tricky conditions.

“We can deliver blasted rock to a defined size specification in polar conditions, within the environmentally-sensitive Arctic Circle, and we can ensure miners’ licence to operate is maintained by ensuring that blasting can go ahead as scheduled, without negatively impacting nearby sensitive receptors, like communities.”

The company provided an update on just how successful its WebGen wireless blasting technology has been since launch last year.

The company said there had been growing market interest for this wireless initiation technology, with more than 220 blasts fired globally. This included securing four commercial services contracts and demonstrations underway currently across 11 customers, with another 17 customers in planning. Overall, the company has targeted 20-28 trial sites across all regions by the end of its financial year.

So far, WebGen wireless blasts during these commercial and trial operations had seen a 34% increase in ore recovery, a 20% boost in increased productivity, improved safety and reduced costs, the company said.

In addition, the company has trials in place for expansion into surface applications (gold, coal, iron ore, copper) and Orica is making good progress made on its next generation WebGen200.

When it comes to BlastIQ, Orica said it had, so far, implemented the technologies on 35 sites, with 25 customers. It had three BlastIQ-enabled optimisation service projects to its name, it said.

In terms of customer value, adoption of these technologies had seen a 5% increase in productivity, a 10% reduction in drilling costs and improved safety and regulatory compliance, Orica said.

The company’s regional managers then broke down some of these numbers, as well as mentioned some developments that could lead to higher market uptake.

Darryl Cuzzubo, Group Executive and President for Asia Pacific & Asia, said the underground and open-pit site introduction of WebGen was taking place ahead of plan, with its largest commercial blast and first strata blast taking place in Australia. On top of this, the company had seen licences for the technology approved in Indonesia, with trials to begin in August/September.

Thomas Schutte, Group Executive and President of Europe Middle East and Africa, meanwhile said the company saw potential growth from technology implementation for WebGen, automation and BlastIQ within the mining sectors in Sweden, Finland, Spain and Turkey.

So far, the company had conducted two underground sites of WebGen in the Nordics, while it was planning a large open-pit trial in Europe in the first half of 2020. Africa trials were also on the horizon. In the meantime, the process to gain EU certification and country approvals was underway, he said.

For BlastIQ, Schutte said the company had completed successful trials and commercial sales in the CIS and Africa.

James Bonnor, Group Executive and President of North America, said five sites had, so far, converted to WebGen use across North America (one being Newmont Goldcorp’s Musselwhite mine), while BlastIQ had found its way into over 100 mining and quarry sites in the US, in particular.

Germán Morales, Group Executive and President, Latin America, had 18 site trials of WebGen technology (in progress/planned) to report on, with the company servicing both surface and underground mines.

In terms of BlastIQ takeup, there had been 12 site implementations, eight of these being successfully converted into contracts and four being trials. Overall, the company expected around 20 implementations for the 2019 financial year.

In addition to this, Morales was able to report back on the first worldwide commercial OreTrack™ implementation in Chile and FRAGTrack™ in Colombia. OreTrack provides RFID-based tracking of rock movement from the blast, while FRAGTrack provides blast fragmentation data with auto-analysis capability.

Goldcorp and Orica looking at further WebGen applications at Musselwhite

Following successful trials of Orica’s WebGen™ 100 at the Musselwhite gold mine, Goldcorp says it is looking at further drill and blast geometries and mining methods using the wireless blasting initiation system at the Ontario mine.

Goldcorp said these blasting tests underground at Musselwhite indicate “a decisive step on the path towards full automation of drill and blast operations in the future”.

In 2016, in collaboration with Orica, Musselwhite began testing WebGen, a system which fires primers through hundreds of metres of solid rock. “The wireless system has been designed to fully integrate with a mine’s existing blasting systems and improves safety by removing people from harm’s way,” Goldcorp said.

The project was recently announced as an award winner, which recognised the development of the temporary rib pillar (TRP) mining method using WebGen.

“The TRP is a revolutionary mining method that uses WebGen technology to extract ore pillars that previously could not be recovered in underground operations,” Goldcorp said. “Using this new method, the main ore of the panel can now be blasted and extracted while the TRP holds back the waste rock backfill. The inaccessible pillars can be blasted, delivering reduced dilution, increased truck fill factors and improved overall productivity.”

The system tested at Musselwhite enables groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that uses an ultra-low frequency magnetic induction wave to communicate through rock, water and air, according to Goldcorp. “This removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection (wires) to each primer in a blast,” the company said.

The magnetic induction wave is transmitted by an antenna at around 1,800 hertz, and received by disposable receivers in each borehole, according to Goldcorp. Each 51 mm-diameter, 320 mm-long disposable receiver has a tri-axis antenna array to receive the signal, supporting any blasthole orientation.

Goldcorp said: “Following the blast plan, each disposable receiver is encoded with the Group ID for its blast, and each detonator with a delay time, just prior to being loaded into the blastholes. A standalone Code Management Computer (CMC) – a tablet wiped of other software – is uploaded with a CSV file from Orica’s blast design software. The CMC assigns the encrypted firing codes and delay timing into a preload blast file. A handheld encoder takes the data from the CMC and encodes each disposable receiver and detonator.”

Three separate codes make up the Group ID, and all three must be received from the transmitter to initiate a blast, according to Goldcorp. First, a wake-up code activates the appropriate disposable receiver from sleep mode. Next, the activated disposable receiver receives an arm code, which calibrates and synchronises the units. Finally, following the mine central blasting protocol, the fire signal is sent, firing each detonator according to its programmed delay time. Other disposable receivers, having not received their wake-up code, remain dormant in their blastholes, ready for subsequent blasts.

Following these tests, further drill and blast geometries and mining methods using WebGen are being explored at Musselwhite, Goldcorp said.

Musselwhite’s Chief Engineer, Billy Grace, said: “Since starting the TRP trials with WebGen in late 2016, our level of comfort with the technology has reached a point that discussing possible wireless applications is an integral part of our mine planning process. The entire team is excited by the possibilities that WebGen opened up, and the new opportunities they are allowing for us to increase our productivity and safety.”

At Orica’s 2018 AGM, Alberto Calderon, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Orica, called WebGen “the most exciting development our industry has seen since bulk explosives in the 1960s”.