Tag Archives: BLAST DOG

IMDEX’s Lawie on BLAST DOG’s continual orebody knowledge evolution

In a presentation to the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney, Australia, today, entitled ‘Get a Dog’, IMDEX Chief Geoscientist and Chief Technologist – Mining, Dave Lawie, charted the five-year development journey of the company’s BLAST DOG™ technology that, the company says, provides unrivalled pre-blast orebody knowledge and a 3D view into the bench.

BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blast hole sensing and physical measurement technology that will provide near real-time blast hole physicals and orebody knowledge, according to IMDEX. The value of the technology is in the power of integrated data, enabling experts to make informed decisions that affect each stage of the mining value chain.

“Ten years ago, orebody knowledge was quite an abstract notion,” Dr Lawie said. “When we first discussed it, people wanted more information. Five years ago, they were becoming more interested, and today it’s a theme in the industry.

“IMDEX has led that discussion and been at the forefront of the development of technologies that deliver better orebody knowledge. Reliable orebody knowledge is central to good mine planning. It provides the data that allows for informed decision making that delivers savings throughout the mining life cycle.”

The BLAST DOG sensor is on a track-mounted robotic platform with semi-autonomous hole positioning and alignment capability working over variable terrain and bench conditions, IMDEX explained.

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist and Chief Technologist – Mining, Dave Lawie

Directly and rapidly measuring the orebody via blast holes reveals what the ore reserve looks like in the ground, at a high resolution, and immediately prior to its extraction, providing mining companies with “insurance” data that protects people, heritage, equipment and neighbouring communities, according to the company.

The data has the potential to be used to develop programs to, the company says, improve safety; mine planning; blast design; fragmentation; reduce fume, flyrock, vibration, air-blast and dust; and improve material assignment post blast.

Dr Lawie said an IMARC presentation in 2015 discussing spatial factors among the activity drivers in mining confirmed to IMDEX that its identification and focus on orebody knowledge was correct. But at the time there was no “Internet of Geosensing” system able to deliver the right information.

“The reference to spatial factors is really the Internet of Geosensing; IoG is an orebody knowledge system, and that’s what BLAST DOG delivers,” he said.

The reduction or management of variation alone creates value, with the characterisation of waste as important as the identification of the target metals or minerals, according to IMDEX.

It creates the opportunity for better segregation of ore from waste during mining and, therefore, grade optimisation as well as maximisation of ore recovery and minimisation of dilution.

With the delivery vehicle coming from Universal Field Robots and the downhole sensors designed and refined by IMDEX, the addition of MinePortal 3D visualisation software has accelerated IMDEX BLAST DOG for mining production, IMDEX says.

The company achieved its first commercial contract with BLAST DOG in August this year, at Iron Bridge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with the agreement providing for the staged use of up to three units together with associated products, software, data analysis, reporting and support.

Six commercial prototype trials are planned for the 2023 financial year under the first phase of BLAST DOG development.

IMDEX concluded: “The BLAST DOG technology will continue to evolve, with new answer products, novel and democratised modelling and visual outputs being developed along with expansion to other commodities and geographies and eventually to underground applications.”

IMDEX reveals record quarterly results as new tech developments await deployment

IMDEX has revealed record September-quarter revenue amid a strong start to its financial year, with CEO Paul House noting revenue growth was up in all key regions with an increasing demand for real-time orebody knowledge and robust industry fundamentals.

IMDEX says its technologies enable resource companies and drilling contractors, to find, define, and mine orebodies – with precision, confidence and at speed.

Record unaudited first-quarter FY2023 revenue of A$105.9 million ($69.2 million) was up 22% on the same period last year, IMDEX said.

Sensors on hire were up 13% on a year ago and 9% on the previous quarter, meanwhile.

House, speaking at the company’s AGM today, said supply chain pressures also continued to ease during its first quarter of the financial year.

Revenue growth was up 17% year-on-year in the Americas, 29% in Africa and Europe, and 27% in Australia and Asia.

He said exploration budgets remained strong in Australia, with clients reporting longer order books of nine to 10 months rather than three to four months.

Major and mid-cap mining clients were reporting ongoing or expanded exploration budgets, and deeper orebodies were resulting in larger and more complex drilling programs, he added.

The drive to expand existing projects or find additional orebodies to sustain current production levels, continuing strong demand for metals across a broad range of sectors, and an increased demand for critical metals all contributed to a strong outlook.

“It is worth noting that during this current cycle, unlike any cycle previously, the industry has not made any major discoveries,” House said. “We believe that this supports both the continued need for exploration drilling and the importance of precision mining technologies that may improve the economics of smaller deposits or increase the mine life of existing operations.”

IMDEX CEO Paul House

House said that early in the first quarter of FY23 IMDEX signed its first significant commercial contract with a tier-one resource company in South Africa for its BORE HOLE STABILISER™ (BHS), part of its suite of drilling optimisation products.

BHS is a multifunctional product formulated specifically for air drilling applications, particularly drill & blast applications.

Trials are underway with underground commercial prototypes in Africa, Asia, and Australia, and further opportunities exist for surface applications, according to the company.

House also provided an update on development of BLAST DOG™, a multi-sensor probe designed to measure a wide range of geophysical properties of an orebody and map its material rock properties.

The data collected by BLAST DOG has the potential to be used by mining companies to develop programs that could improve mine planning, blast design, fragmentation and material movement tracking, post-blast.

IMDEX achieved the first commercial contract with BLAST DOG in August 2022, at Iron Bridge in the Pilbara. The agreement provides for the staged use of up to three BLAST DOG sensors, together with associated products, software, and support, over the initial term. This will result in an estimated contract value of A$13 million.

House added: “Our MINEPORTAL™ 3D visualisation software, acquired from DataCloud in September 2021, has been instrumental in demonstrating the value of BLAST DOG to customers,” House said.

He said the initial focus for development of BLAST DOG was copper and bulk metals within Australia and the Americas.

A rigorous assessment defined by global mines with the capacity for more than three drill rigs identified a serviceable addressable market beyond five years of approximately 400 sites, IMDEX says.

With IMDEX focussing on the top 25% of those that were more likely to support the introduction of technologies that are disruptive to existing mining workflows, the assessment had determined that the obtainable market over the same period was about 100 mine sites to support this first phase of growth for the BLAST DOG.

Six commercial prototype trials are planned for the 2023 financial year under the first phase of BLAST DOG development, according to the company.

“The next generation BLAST DOG will incorporate additional sensors, software, and data answer products, and we will expand its application to other commodities and geographies and eventually to underground applications,” House said.

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG to receive first commercial runout at Iron Bridge

Mining support technology, BLAST DOG, which was developed in Australia by IMDEX Limited, is set to be used at the Iron Bridge Operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia under a new three-year agreement.

Iron Bridge is an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB, with the agreement being the first commercial application of IMDEX’s BLAST DOG.

The agreement provides for the staged utilisation of BLAST DOGs, which IMDEX estimates will generate revenue of A$13 million ($9.2 million) over the initial term.

The BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blasthole sensing and physical measurement technology that is semi-autonomously deployed for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said this contract win was a defining moment for IMDEX.

“This is homegrown technology designed to provide meaningful, quantifiable benefits for the mining industry,” House said.

“We are not aware of any other technology that has the capacity to produce the same quantity and quality of pre-blast rock data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes.”

“The commercial success of BLAST DOG reflected in today’s announcement is a credit to IMDEX’s R&D team and their drive to make a difference in the mining industry.”

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dave Lawie, said the company overcame many obstacles, including mine access issues caused by COVID-19, to deliver the BLAST DOG project in Australia and the Americas.

“Today’s announcement is exciting because we know what BLAST DOG can produce,” Lawie said.

“It is recognition for five years of intense effort spanning the USA, Queensland, Western Australia and Chile in conjunction with our METS Ignited project partners.

“In addition to the work for the Iron Bridge joint venture, we are involved in ongoing, pre-commercial trials across various operations in Australia, Canada and Chile.”

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG provides material physical property measurements prior to blasthole drilling to inform decisions regarding blasting, screening, blending and stockpiling, among others, before these materials are subject to processing. These properties form the inputs to a tactical approach to ore characterisation and processing, IMDEX says.

Possible benefits offered by IMDEX’s BLAST DOG include the ability of mining companies to develop programs which:

  • Optimise explosive selection and costs;
  • Improve fragmentation;
  • Improve material and grade control;
  • Reduce geotechnical risk;
  • Detect voids;
  • Define ore boundaries and prevent ore waste dilution; and
  • Reduce fume, flyrock, vibration, air-blast and dust.

The BLAST DOG contract capped off a year in which IMDEX delivered record revenue, record earnings and continued margin expansion.

It reported record revenue of $341.8 million, a 29.3% increase on the same time last year; alongside record EBITDA of A$104.9 million, an increase of 38.9% on last year; and net profit after tax of A$44.7 million, up 41% on last year.

IMDEX signs agreement with Tier 1 miner to fast-track development of MAGHAMMER

IMDEX has signed a joint development agreement with a Tier One mining company to fast-track development of the IMDEX MAGHAMMER™ for commercial use, according to Chief Executive Paul House (pictured).

The MAGHAMMER uses a hybrid drilling technique combining rotary diamond drilling with fluid driven percussive drilling to achieve higher penetration rates compared with conventional coring. The technology enables an entire drill hole to be completed with a coring rig where RC and diamond drilling is required, according to the company.

IMDEX only exercised its option to acquire Flexidrill and its patent-protected drilling productivity technologies, COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER, in December, but it had carried out test work on the MAGHAMMER technology far in advance of the transaction.

Speaking at the company’s AGM this week, House reported a new rental fleet record and month-on-month increases in revenue since May as IMDEX recovered from a COVID-19-related downturn earlier in the year.

With the strength of the gold price and other key commodities, and exploration activity surging, IMDEX’s tool rental fleet is 19% up on the same time last year and exceeds the previous record set in 2012, the company said.

House told the AGM that the recommencement of activity globally since May had continued in most regions, albeit at different speeds.

“We achieved revenue of A$61.4 million ($43.5 million) in Q1 2021 (September quarter of 2020), which was up 26% on Q4 2020 (June quarter of 2020),” House said. “This result is only slightly behind the previous corresponding year at A$67.6 million, or 4.9% on a constant currency basis.”

House said the company is seeing multi-commodity demand, with clients “well-funded” and focused on resuming sustained activity as soon as possible.

The pressures of COVID-19, which forced various governments to impose border and travel restrictions, created strong demand for IMDEX technologies linked to its cloud-based IMDEX HUBIQ™, the company said.

“We have made great progress both because of and in spite of COVID-19,” House said. “The global pandemic has increased demand for our connected technologies that support remote operations. Conversely, it has hindered client trials due to limited access to site for non-essential personnel.

“On balance, the momentum for disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and the industrial internet of things is gaining cadence.

“The outlook for mining tech is brighter than it has ever been.”

On top of the MAGHAMMER reveal, House said client trials of the award-winning IMDEX BLAST DOG™ had resumed.

IMDEX BLAST DOG is a semi-autonomously deployed system for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine and is commodity agnostic.

Just last month, the technology, being developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots and tested at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, won the Greyhound Innovation (METS) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards.

IMDEX, UFR win plaudits for Blast DOG deployment at Anglo’s Dawson mine

IMDEX’s Blast DOG™ technology is gaining recognition, with the drill and blast innovation winning a Queensland mining award last week.

IMDEX Blast DOG, being developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots (UFR) and tested at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, won the Greyhound Innovation (METS) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards.

A semi-autonomously deployed system for logging material properties and blast hole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine, IMDEX Blast DOG™ is commodity agnostic. It is a semi-autonomous system that helps optimise blasting based on high-resolution three-dimensional material models built from sensor data. It is aimed at helping miners get predictable fragmentation and determine ore and waste boundaries, and control vibration, dust, fumes and heave, the company says.

“No other technology has the capacity to produce the same data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes including enhancing productivity,” IMDEX said.

The judges said UFR and IMDEX conquered the challenge of logging blast holes, while removing operators from harm’s way.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said: “To be the winner among such esteemed competition is a testament to the team and our collaboration partners, Universal Field Robots, Anglo American, Teck Resources Ltd and Orica, supported by METS Ignited.

“IMDEX has a passion to provide the mining industry with purpose-built solutions. IMDEX Blast DOG is no exception and we are investing heavily in solutions that provide significant benefit to our customers.”

The IMDEX Blast DOG solution moved from concept to prototype in just four months which provided the platform and justification to develop a commercial version, IMDEX says.

The innovation category was hotly debated, with judges looking at all five finalists as addressing the industry’s big issues. This included Emesent’s Hovermap drone payload for “mapping the inaccessible”, Polymathian – “Transforming Mining Value Chains with Industrial Mathematics”, Redeye Apps – “Optimising O&M Inspections – The Redeye Digital Twin” and Sedgman – “SMART Condition Monitoring”.

IMDEX ready for mining uptick as global COVID-19 restrictions start to lift

IMDEX is seeing light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, with some restrictions affecting its international operations to be eased during May and June, prompting mining operations to resume and drilling contractors to return to work.

With 20 offices internationally, sales in 102 countries, and a presence in 70% of mineral drilling projects globally, the company and its clients have been dealing with restrictions and government declarations in multiple jurisdictions, IMDEX said.

The restrictions have not affected IMDEX’s supply chain and it has been able to service clients, it says.

Mexico has recently emerged from a 30-day, COVID-related shutdown after mining was deemed an essential service, joining South Africa, Argentina, Peru and parts of Quebec and Brazil as countries where operations have recently started ramping back up.

In Australia, IMDEX and its clients have been able to continue operations while working within state restrictions, it said.

In a presentation hosted by Goldman Sachs released to the ASX, IMDEX said business disruption appeared to have stabilised and there had been an increase in demand in late April for remote working technologies.

The company had followed a strong first half-year result (six months to December 31, 2019) with its strongest March quarter revenue on record, up 11% on the same period of 2019, before the effects of the COVID-19 crisis hit during April.

Chief Operating Officer, Paul House, said the company was fielding enquiries from clients looking to resume operations. At the same time, the company was alert to the risk of renewed government and company responses to secondary COVID-19 infections.

“As we see restrictions being lifted, we are receiving enquiries from our clients asking for confirmation of supply to remobilise on drilling projects around the world and we expect this to continue through May and June,” House said. “We are establishing new ways of working internally and with our clients, which will continue and be beneficial when the pandemic eases.

“IMDEX invests heavily in research and development. We have always worked with industry to solve problems and this period is no different. It just means that we have to think creatively – and we have some of the best in the business at doing that.”

He added: “We have a positive growth outlook with solid underlying mining industry fundamentals. Major and intermediate resource companies have strong balance sheets and are focused on replacing reserves.”

IMDEX is also set to benefit from the strong gold mining sector, with House noting that Bank of America recently forecast “gold would hit $3,000/oz in 18 months”. The price currently sits just above $1,730/oz.

About 50% of IMDEX’s commodity exposure is within gold, with copper and iron ore exposure representing 25% and other metals the remainder.

IMDEX’s drill and blast technology gains traction

IMDEX, known for its technical sensing capabilities in exploration, is looking to lock in non-cyclical global revenue streams through the development of technology for drill and blast applications.

The company, in an update last week, said its BLAST DOG™ technology remains on track to increase mine to mill efficiency for clients globally and it was conducting trials in multiple commodities with global resource companies.

To date, successful trials have been undertaken in Nevada, USA, and in Queensland, Australia; with additional trials planned in Chile and Australia in the first half of 2020, IMDEX said.

“The company continues to have strong support from industry partners including: Orica; Anglo American; Teck Resources; and METS Ignited and expects to generate revenue from the drill and blast technologies in the 2020 financial year,” it said.

In addition to updating the market on its BLAST DOG technology, the company also revealed details about drilling productivity technologies COREVIBE™ and MAGHAMMER™.

Back in January 2018, IMDEX revealed it had an exclusive option agreement to acquire Flexidrill and its patent protected drilling productivity technologies, the COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER.

“The company has been progressing the development of these technologies based on strong demand from drilling contractors and resource companies,” IMDEX said, adding that it undertook successful trials at the company’s test site in New Zealand, which concluded that COREVIBE generated a productivity gain of 33% over conventional coring. These results were also validated by SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, according to IMDEX.

More recently, IMDEX conducted client trials with the COREVIBE in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. “These trials were successful and supported the results achieved at IMDEX’s test site,” the company said.

Further trials with another large drilling contractor in Arizona, USA, are scheduled for late July 2019 and IMDEX expects to have COREVIBE units on rent in the current September quarter, it said.

Development of the MAGHAMMER at IMDEX’s test site in New Zealand is also progressing and the company intends to commence client trials in the second half of 2020, it said.

“The first iteration of the MAGHAMMER will be targeting high speed pre-collar drilling through barren rock to the coring zone,” IMDEX said. “This eliminates the need for multiple drill rigs at site and accordingly, the MAGHAMMER will significantly reduce the cost of drilling these targets. Additional development of the MAGHAMMER will provide geological samples.”

On the basis of continued positive development of the drilling productivity technologies and ongoing successful client trials with COREVIBE, IMDEX said it anticipated exercising its option to acquire Flexidrill in December 2019.

IMDEX Managing Director, Bernie Ridgeway, said: “We have an exciting pipeline of new technologies and connected devices to support our growth strategy. The new technologies have the potential to grow our core business by enhancing technical leadership; and extending our capabilities into the larger adjacent mining market, to create an additional non-cyclical revenue stream.

“Our new technologies – including the COREVIBE, MAGHAMMER and BLAST DOG – have the ability to deliver important advancements in drilling methods and mining workflows. New deposits are likely to be deeper and under cover; and resource companies are embracing innovation to achieve greater productivity. These new technologies position our company to benefit from changing industry dynamics.”