Tag Archives: Angus Melbourne

Orica leverages MWD data, AI to create new blast loading design benchmark

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.

Orica to take CRC ORE’s IES cloud-based simulation technology global

Orica has been selected as the commercialisation partner for the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction’s (CRC ORE) Integrated Extraction Simulator, a cloud-based software platform designed to reduce the use of energy and water in mining through the application of simulation, optimisation and machine learning.

The award followed a competitive selection process, with the global mining explosives and services giant set to take the reins of the platform’s growth strategy from July 2021, with plans for global expansion of the technology.

Orica’s interest was initially driven by IES’s introduction of blast simulation into the mineral processing value chain, CRC ORE said. While mine operators can use controlled blasting techniques as an effective augmentation of the rock breakage process, Orica also saw the wider application of IES as an obvious fit with its expanding digital solutions offer across the whole mining value chain.

“By harnessing the virtually limitless scalability available through cloud computing services, mining companies can now use IES to configure multiple design options for a mineral processing plant,” CRC ORE said. “IES then tasks each design and simulates its performance for every day of operation over the life of a mine. This high-resolution simulation of each design leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of optimal mineral processing.”

Orica intends to expand this capability into a global solution for mining companies, enabling them to design their mineral processing using IES, and then leverage IES’s capability every day to drive continual operational improvements.

CRC ORE Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ben Adair, said having a company the calibre of Orica as commercialisation partner is testament to the enormous opportunity and benefits that the simulator provides to the mining industry.

“We have worked with our Participants over many years to refine our simulation platform,” Dr Adair said. “As a foundation Participant in CRC ORE, Orica shares our commitment to optimising resource extraction and our passion for the continued development of the simulator.

“The scale offered by Orica’s global reach, in addition to its sustained investment in research and development and unwavering focus on innovation, makes it the ideal custodian of IES.”

Orica has been evolving towards its vision of an integrated ore extraction mining services company, with this vision including investing in digital solutions where continuous innovation and open integration with other industry systems across the mining value chain are key to the delivery of whole of mine optimisation for customers, CRC ORE said.

Orica Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said Orica is primed to take the simulator global and continually evolve the technology to meet the ever changing needs of the industry.

“This is a great example of industry collaboration developing solutions to industry level problems, and we are extremely proud to be part of it,” he said. “It is a fantastic opportunity to continue Orica’s 11-year relationship with CRC ORE and further expand our digital solutions offering by combining our blasting domain expertise with this leading simulation technology to customers and beyond worldwide.”

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “From a technology perspective, we see enormous synergies with our existing blasting and measurement solutions, including BlastIQ, FRAGTrack and ORETrack. We are also excited to integrate our automated, data science enabled blast design technology and solutions with IES, offering end-to-end digitised workflow solutions from orebody knowledge through to mineral processing in an open, secure, and connected platform.”

CRC ORE’s team of developers and consultant engineers will integrate into Orica from July 2021 and will continue to be led by CRC ORE’s current General Manager for the simulator, Nick Beaton.

Beaton said: “IES is now at the right point in its development to become commercially sustainable while continuing to develop new capabilities. It will be thrilling to continue this with Orica.

“We have demonstrated that the simulator can improve the value of major mine sites by some 5-6; this is significant for the mines using the simulator and for the whole industry.

“Optimisation of processing operations by use of IES will also enable step-change reductions in power and water consumption, while greatly improving recoveries of marginal ores, all contributing to the future sustainability of mining operations.”

The transition of the IES business to Orica will take place in the middle of 2021 when CRC ORE’s term comes to an end. In the meantime, CRC ORE and Orica, together with industry partners, will continue developing innovations to drive continual improvements throughout the mining industry. Continuing this innovation, Orica looks forward to IES participation in the next iteration of the Amira P9 project.

Epiroc and Orica announce world first semi-automated explosives delivery system

Orica and Epiroc Rock Drills say they have successfully co-developed a prototype of the world’s first semi-automated explosives delivery system.

A sought-after technology by customers in the underground hard-rock mining sector, Avatel™ will deliver a completely new way of approaching development blasting operations by eliminating charge crew exposure at the face, according to the companies.

Orica and Epiroc expect to commence commissioning on Avatel, the first-of-its-kind, industry-driven explosives delivery system, in the coming weeks, meaning the solution could be deployed at underground mine sites as early as the end of 2021.

The solution provides safe access for an operator in cab to execute the development cycle while reducing the reliance on costly, time-consuming and, at times, ineffective controls put in place to manage the risks to personnel working in one of the highest risk areas of an underground mine, the companies said.

Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions.

“Achieving this significant development milestone, despite COVID-19 disruptions, shows the strength of our collaboration with Epiroc and our collective ability to deliver the future of mining.”

Epiroc’s President Underground division, Sami Niiranen, said: “With this partnership, we continue to raise the safety bar by combining world leading technologies that will make a difference in underground mines.

“The Avatel prototype represents the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground. We are looking forward to bringing this ground-breaking solution to customers worldwide.”

A key enabling technology of Avatel and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, Orica’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, the companies say.

Built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and integrated with Orica’s latest explosives technology, Avatel is a twin boom, semi-autonomous and fully mechanised development charging solution that, Epiroc and Orica says, allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of Epiroc’s enclosed ROPS and FOPS certified cabin.

“Avatel is equipped with the most sophisticated version of Epiroc’s acclaimed Rig Control System (version 5),” they said.

“Through its intuitive interface, with a large touchscreen and dual multifunctional joysticks, and, combined with Epiroc´s computer assisted boom positioning features, it can be easily handled. Integrated with Orica’s LOADPlus, charge plans and other important data will be communicated between the systems.”

The design of Avatel builds on Epiroc’s application design experience, further adapted to match conditions this new solution will face. Future developments can be extended to other Epiroc carriers including battery drivelines, they say.

Other advantages include flexibility at the face through Epiroc´s dual diesel/electric plug-in power solution.

“The convergence of these technologies ultimately ensures that the right explosives will be safely delivered into the right holes and given the right timing to achieve optimal efficiencies and the desired outcomes,” the companies said.

Extensive trials of Avatel will take place throughout 2021, before the first commercially available systems are expected to enter service.

Orica announced in November 2019 that it had entered a partnership with Epiroc to develop a semi-automated explosives delivery system.

Orica and FRAGTrack recognised for innovative streak in AFR list

Orica’s fragmentation measurement technology, FRAGTrack™, has again gained recognition in the innovation community after being named in the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies List 2020.

FRAGTrack and Orica’s entrenched culture of innovation were behind the company’s second place ranking in the list under the Agriculture, Mining & Utilities Service sector.

The annual list, published by The Australian Financial Review (AFR) and Boss Magazine, is based on a rigorous assessment process, led by a panel of industry experts and innovation consultancy Inventium. From a pool of over 600 nominated organisations across Australia and New Zealand, Orica’s FRAGTrack was recognised as a pioneering technology in the Agriculture, Mining & Utilities Service industry, delivering significant value for customers, Orica said.

FRAGTrack, Orica’s automated fragmentation measurement device, accurately and reliably measures rock size and fragmentation following the blasting stage in mining and quarrying. While traditional methods are prone to operator bias and cannot generally operate in harsher mining environments, FRAGTrack captures, analyses and reports real-time data digitally, according to the company. Designed in collaboration with Design Anthology, Newie Ventures and Your Engineer Mechanical Engineering, the technology can be installed and upgraded remotely – creating safer, more accurate mining outcomes.

The latest award follows FRAGTrack receiving a Good Design Award accolade in the Engineering Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation earlier this year.

When judging the innovation, the AFR industry panel considered three key elements – how valuable the problem is that the innovation is solving, the quality and uniqueness of the solution, and the level of impact that the innovation has had. However, the organisation must also be able to demonstrate a truly innovative culture and a sustainable and repeatable approach to innovation across the business.

Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Innovation underpins everything we do at Orica, and it’s our pioneering spirit, amazing people and commitment to working collaboratively with our customers that allows us to continue to deliver products and technologies that are shaping the future of mining.

“Customer collaboration is key to our innovation process. By understanding our customer’s challenges and sharing their goals and aspirations, we can deliver better outcomes on site today, and use these insights to create new technologies that will deliver value tomorrow.

“FRAGTrack is an excellent example of this innovative spirit on show. This technology has evolved through collaborative innovation between our experts, customers, technology partners and the industry.”

He concluded: “At Orica, we’re proud to be leading the change in digital, automated blasting. The convergence of these technologies is allowing us to think differently, mine differently, operate more precisely and most importantly, remove people from harm’s way. FRAGTrack exemplifies all of this, while ultimately delivering significant value for the industry.”

Orica and Epiroc take first steps ‘towards automation of drill and blast operations’

Orica and Epiroc Rock Drills AB say they are working on a project to jointly develop a semi-automated explosives delivery system, enabling safer and more productive blasting operations in underground mines.

As mines go deeper and orebodies become more remote, the case for blasting automation becomes clearer, a case that Orica has continually made for the past few years.

Orica says its partnership with Epiroc will “bring together the deep expertise and experience of two global industry leaders” to address the growing demand from customers mining in increasingly more hazardous and challenging underground operations.

The first prototype system is expected in 2020, with the first commercially available systems to enter service in 2021, according to Orica, which said more details on the collaboration and technology will be communicated later.

Orica Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “This exciting partnership with Epiroc will allow us to leverage our exclusive wireless initiating system, WebGen™, to deliver the critical first steps towards the automation of drill and blast operations.

“Automation is a key pillar of our technology strategy and supports our vision of transforming drill and blast to unlock mining value by creating safer and more sustainable operations.”

Epiroc Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, Helena Hedblom, said: “This promising collaboration with Orica is an important first step on an exciting journey toward automating the whole drilling and explosives charging process.

“It is a vital part of both Epiroc’s and Orica’s vision of making the mining operation as safe, productive and cost efficient as possible.”

Orica says: “Orica and Epiroc are the ideal partners to optimise the explosives charging process for underground mining. Orica is the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems to the mining, quarrying, oil and gas and construction markets, and Epiroc is the industry leader in developing innovative underground mining equipment, including face drill rigs and production drill rigs.”

Orica keen to collaborate on path to blasting automation

Orica’s Angus Melbourne told a packed Austmine 2019 crowd in Brisbane this week that the blasting specialist is committed to developing automated solutions for both the underground and surface mining sectors and is working with both customers and industry partners to make this aim a reality.

During his speech on Wednesday, Melbourne, Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technical Officer, walked delegates through a number of achievements the company had achieved over its 140-year history, but also looked ahead to how Orica is focused on revolutionising the drill and blast operations of the future.

“Blasting is one of the few processes in the mining value chain that remains largely untouched by automation,” Melbourne said. “As mines go deeper and orebodies become more remote, the case for blasting automation becomes clearer.”

Among a number of benefits of blasting automation were the ability to remove people from harm’s ways, grant access to difficult ore reserves and reduce operational delays, he explained.

“Due to the complexities associated with a typical blast operation, this is no trivial endeavour,” he said.

Melbourne said progress was already being made with Orica’s automation efforts, singling out its Orica’s WebGen™ wireless initiation technology, in particular. Launched in 2018, WebGen improves safety by removing people from hazardous situations and enhances productivity through the removal of constraints previously placed on operations by wired connections.

“Since its release, more than 130 WebGen wireless blasts have been executed globally across four industry segments,” Melbourne told delegates.

Newmont Goldcorp’s Musselwhite mine has been an advocate of the wireless initiation technology, recently saying the blasting tests it has carried out at the Ontario mine were “a decisive step on the path towards full automation of drill and blast operations in the future”.

The wireless initiation technology is leading to the development of new blasting options, according to Melbourne, who said, in the last 12 months, Orica has co-developed more than seven new techniques that are “revolutionising the way our customers are planning and executing their mining operations”.

On stage, Melbourne then played a short video from CMOC Northparkes in New South Wales, Australia, a miner that recently converted its entire sub-level cave copper mine to WebGen wireless initiation blasting; an Australia and world first, according to Melbourne.

He said Northparkes has seen significant improvements in safety, productivity and ore recovery since the transition. Melbourne’s words were echoed later that day when Orica received the Austmine METS Innovation Award for the use of WebGen at Northparkes.

Melbourne pointed to a second collaborative development that was helping shape the company’s blast automation efforts during his time on stage; this time with an original equipment manufacturer.

The company has been working with MacLean Engineering out of Canada to test the first fully-mechanised drawpoint hang-up blasting solution, he said.

Capable of drilling and charging up to eight blast holes remotely, the solution is underpinned by WebGen wireless technology and, once again, removes people from harm’s way.

“Hang-up blasting is a major issue for block and sub-level cave mines around the world,” Melbourne said. “In fact, at any one time, up to 30% of all drawpoints can be unavailable due to oversize material. All current solutions are either high risk mining activities or are highly inefficient to implement.”

He then played a video highlighting this industry-first solution, before remarking: “This is a significant step towards fully-autonomous production in underground mines. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved and is just one example of an industry collaboration to deliver blast automation.”

Melbourne concluded his presentation by saying, in the future, integrated, automated and intelligent systems will deliver the critical data necessary for executing real-time change and quantifiable impact on all parts of the value chain “through an ‘ecosystem of insight’ never seen before in mining.

“To capture the full potential of rapidly-evolving technology will require new ways of thinking, new ways of working, and a new spirit of collaboration across the industry.”