Tag Archives: Blasting

3GSM tackles drill comms, pattern analysis in latest BlastMetriX UAV blasting software update

3GSM GmbH, a developer of software to optimise blasting and reduce inherent environmental issues, has announced several updates to its flagship BlastMetriX UAV software that, the company says, improves communication with smart drills, offers face profiling enhancements and delivers more sophisticated drill pattern analysis.

Robert McClure, President of Robert A McClure (RAM) Inc of Powell, Ohio, an international blast and engineering consulting firm that provides service, support and training for BlastMetriX UAV, said: “3GSM works closely with its blasting customers to adapt to new challenges faced in the field and improve blast optimisation. Customers with an active update licence automatically receive these new features inside the BlastMetriX software, or they can be ordered separately.”

The enhanced drill pattern analysis tool provides heat mapping of drilled borehole deviations for simple visualisation of differences between “as planned” and “as drilled” patterns, while semi-automatic mapping of linear rock mass features is imported into the blast plan. By providing enhanced burden and spacing information, the software allows users to adjust explosive amounts in each borehole to account for irregularities, according to the company. “This is a great tool for a company’s key performance indicator program,” McClure said. “The software captures information from each blast and allows users to go back and review historical data to correct issues in the field.”

Updates to the IREDES (International Rock Excavation Data Exchange Standard) interface improves two-way data communication between BlastMetriX UAV and smart drills. It now allows for import of measure for drilling data like drill penetration rate and air pressure to map the subsurface geology of the borehole. At a quick glance, the software shows the geology and burdens from borehole top to bottom out to the free face. The program is compatible with all major drilling equipment manufacturers, according to the company.

Incorporating the ShapeMetriX system for generating and assessing 3D images, new geological mapping integration allows users to better visualise dips, strikes, seams and voids throughout the drilling pattern. The software can characterise irregularities in the face, which are projected back through the borehole. This allows for more precise loading of the borehole and improves blast safety.

In another update, the underground volumetric measurements tool inside ShapeMetriX now provides the determination of precise volumes in a “generalised” manner, based off captured subsequent tunnel faces and perimeters.

With the aid of aerial targets or standard BlastMetriX targets as reference points, the software imports images from a calibrated DSLR camera or unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly, safely and accurately capture 3D face profiles for enhanced visualisation of the blast area. Multiple data-rich overlapping images generate hundreds of thousands of data points for accurately characterising typography of the surveyed area and creating a 3D face profile.

BlastMetriX UAV gives technicians the confidence the blast will perform as designed to mitigate fly-rock issues, high air overpressures, excessive vibration, poor fragmentation, sub-par cast, loss of grade control and wall damage, the company says.

“Through blast design optimisation using BlastMetriX UAV, operations can realise significant benefits including improved fragmentation, higher crusher throughput and lower drilling man power requirements,” 3GSM said. “The scalable BlastMetriX UAV software allows companies to integrate as much or as little technology as required.”

BME’s achieves another record-breaking blast with AXXIS Titanium electronic detonators

Another record-breaking blast has been notched up by Omnia Group company BME using its latest generation AXXIS Titanium™ electronic detonation system.

The blast of 5,209 detonators was conducted recently at a chrome mine in South Africa’s North West province, according to Tinus Brits, BME’s Global Product Manager – AXXIS. Brits highlighted how the enhanced features of AXXIS Titanium allows mines to respond quickly and easily to raised production demands.

“While a record blast is always an achievement to be celebrated, this was a standard production blast requiring nothing different or extra from the mine,” he said. “The ease-of-use of AXXIS Titanium, the speed at which blasts can be prepared, and its rapid testing features make this possible.”

The dual-voltage basis of the new system means that detonators can be tested while they are logged in, with the logging and testing conducted as a single function. As a result, this record blast could be primed, charged, tied-up, logged, tested and programmed in just two days.

“With AXXIS Titanium, the logger does everything for you,” Brits said. Multiple loggers were used on the blast, with each operator logging a portion of the blast to speed up the process; the log files were then seamlessly combined.

By consuming less energy, AXXIS Titanium allows up to 1,000 detonators to be initiated by each blasting box – reducing the amount of equipment that is needed on site.

“This helps improve the reliability of blasts, as there are fewer items of equipment to communicate with each other,” Brits said. “These high levels of reliability ensure a quality blast with no misfires, even in single-prime blasts – where there is just one detonator per hole – as was the case in this record blast.”

He also emphasised the intuitive fault-finding capacity of the AXXIS Titanium system, which identifies those detonators which have not been logged onto the harness wire. The operator is informed precisely where the relevant detonator is to be found, so it can be quickly logged.

“It also solves the problem of ‘intruders’ – those detonators that were accidentally missed during the logging process,” Brits said. “Again, the operator can speedily fix this issue wherever it occurs, ensuring that there are no misfires in the blast.”

The design of the AXXIS Titanium connector is another important factor, allowing blasters to log and test detonators without the need to open the connector. The gel in the connector that ensures a good seal, therefore, is not disturbed during testing and logging.

“It only gets opened up once you connect it to the surface wire, which is why the sealing of our connectors is so good – eradicating resistance or leakage on the block,” Brits said.

Epiroc, Orica secure Newcrest Cadia trial for commercial Avatel charging system

Newcrest Mining is set to trial Avatel, a fully mechanised development charging system developed by Epiroc and Orica, at the Cadia operation in New South Wales, Australia, later this year, according to Tony Sprague.

Sprague, Group Manager, Directional Studies and Innovation at Newcrest, said this will be the first commercial trial of the Orica and Epiroc co-developed system anywhere in the world.

Orica and Epiroc, back in 2019, announced joint work on a semi-automated explosives delivery system, enabling safer and more productive blasting operations in underground mines. The companies said the partnership would “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.

Avatel includes Orica’s HandiLoader™ emulsion process body, Epiroc’s M2C carrier and RCS 5 control system, working with Orica’s LOADPlus™ control system and WebGen™ 200 wireless initiation system and automated WebGen magazine. Epiroc has also incorporated an onboard dewatering and lifter debris clearing system, while Orica’s ShotPlus™ intelligent blast design software is also being leveraged. These components help eliminate the need for traditional tie-ins and other physical wired connections from the charging cycle.

Orica has stated previously: “This first-of-its-kind innovation enables a single operator to prepare and charge explosives from the safety of an enclosed cabin, several metres from the face and out of harm’s way. Combined with Orica’s LOADPlus smart control system and Subtek Control bulk emulsion, customers can enjoy complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution.”

Trials with a prototype machine have been taking place at Epiroc’s Kvantorp Underground Test Mine in Sweden under controlled underground conditions. IM understands there are also plans for a machine to head to Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä Mine in Finland to complete extended underground trials in the production environment.

Newcrest’s Cadia operation is set to be the first site to trial the complete commercial offering at Cadia, commencing in the second half of 2022, according to Sprague.

Incitec Pivot looks for EMEA explosives growth with Titanobel transaction

Incitec Pivot Limited, owner of Dyno Nobel, has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in Explinvest, the holding company of the Titanobel Group, an industrial explosives manufacturer and drilling, blasting and technical services provider based in France.

Incitec has agreed to pay €91 million ($103 million) for Titanobel in a transaction it says is highly complementary to Dyno Nobel’s existing operations, providing access to new markets where the company can leverage its premium technology offering through substitution and growth strategies.

Titanobel has a strong customer base in the mature and stable European market with exposure to the quarry and construction sector, the growing African hard-rock sector and the rapidly expanding mining of future-facing minerals in the EMEA region, Incitec Pivot said. The company is supported by a well-established manufacturing base in France, which will be key to the delivery of the Dyno Nobel strategy in the region.

The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction of key milestones and conditions, including the French employee works council consultation process, and Incitec Pivot receiving foreign direct investment regulatory approval from the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is expected to complete by June 2022.

Titanobel provides drilling, blasting and technical services in France and across Europe, as well as in parts of western and southern Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. It has two main business units, explosives as well as drilling and blasting services.

Following the acquisition, Incitec Pivot intends to leverage the existing manufacturing footprint, the skills and technical experience of Titanobel’s existing workforce, and to enhance its offering through the introduction of Incitec Pivots’ technologies.

“Over time, IPL’s value adding technologies will be expanded into other markets in the EMEA region from this newly enhanced base,” it said. “The EMEA market is significant in size, characterised by low ammonium nitrate requirements, stable or growing minerals markets, and large initiating systems usage with low penetration of electronic detonators.”

IPL’s Managing Director and CEO, Jeanne Johns, said: “Titanobel’s acquisition will fit well with our strategy of taking our core explosive business, for which we are recognised globally, to new markets. We are excited for the potential to service new clients and partners with our market-leading technology.”

Orica sets out to transform mine-site used oil explosive utilisation with Cyclo

Orica’s Cyclo™, a solution combining the company’s emulsifier technology with used oil processing technology to transform mine-site used oil for application in explosives, is off to a fast start with the first automated containerised system recently successfully commissioned in Ghana.

Cyclo is an example of Orica’s strategic focus on optimised resource use through circularity, it said in its recently released annual report.

While used oil/diesel blends have been utilised in process fuels for more than 15 years, the technique requires tight quality control and regular testing when used to manufacture emulsions, the company said. “As a result, it has only been feasible at sites with access to external laboratory services.”

To service a broader range of customers, Orica has partnered with CreatEnergy to develop a standalone, on-site solution to treat used oil to the quality required for emulsion manufacture.

Orica initially scheduled Cyclo for market introduction in late 2022, but it scaled and sped up development and production plans to support customers’ operations and curtail material supply disruptions brought about by COVID-19.

“Our first automated containerised used oil recycling system, Cyclo, was successfully commissioned recently in Ghana, Africa,” Adam Mooney, Vice President of Blasting Technology, said. “We are working to gradually commission further units across more customer sites in the coming months, including in Papua New Guinea and Senegal.”

Bulk emulsion manufactured with Cyclo™ processed used oil

Over 33,000 litres of used oil has been processed to date through the initial Cyclo service, according to Mooney, who explained: “This is a modest quantity as the Cyclo unit was only commissioned remotely in recent months due to COVID-19. In a year, this mine is forecast to reduce their diesel consumption by approximately 250,000 litres.”

Mooney told IM that its used oil recycling technology is designed to support customers’ remote operations where Orica’s site-based emulsion plants are available.

“The key difference in the Cyclo service with existing offers in the market is that the containerised processing system is fully integrated into our on-site emulsion plants, enabling the used oil from the mine to be directly recycled without leaving the site,” he said. “The processing unit guarantees used oil quality to the standard required for emulsion manufacture by removing potential contaminants and, when combined with proprietary Orica emulsifier technology, guarantees finished bulk product quality.”

These installations will, the company said, reduce the annual diesel consumption for explosives manufacture for customers, depending on bulk product consumption, by some 250,000-800,000 litres per year per site when operational, delivering an environmental and commercial benefit to customers. On top of the obvious diesel consumption benefits, the solution will reduce truck movements through local communities and the associated logistical challenges and risks, particularly for remote operations.

A version of the Cyclo system to suit Arctic conditions (eg in Russia and parts of Asia) is currently being designed and will be operational in 2022, Mooney added.

Ralf Hennecke promoted to Managing Director at BME

Ralf Hennecke has been appointed as the Managing Director of BME, a division of the Omnia Group, with effect from December 1, 2021.

Hennecke started his career in 1987 at Rand Mines Limited and was employed at Johannesburg Consolidated Investments, following which he joined Omnia BME in 1995.

He has deep operational, marketing, sales, commercial and technical expertise, having been part of BME’s executive team for over 20 years and played a key role in BME’s recent global corporate development and strategy. In July 2021, Hennecke was promoted to the position of Managing Director for BME SADC.

BME, a leading manufacturer and supplier of explosives products, technology and blasting services to the mining sector, says it has a balanced presence in sectors that are essential to the sustainable use of the world’s finite resources and focuses on developing intellectual property to add value to the global mining sector.

Hennecke said: “It is an honour to accept this role, and with the support of my team, we are deeply committed to executing on BME’s growth plans across our global markets. We will achieve this through consistent product, technology and services delivery, close customer and stakeholder relationships and partnerships, whilst playing our part as a responsible and sustainable corporate citizen in the mining sector.”

The recent launch of AXXIS Titanium™, an advanced electronic blast detonation systems, will play a key role in driving growth, while the “Blast Alliance” approach will further entrench the division’s reputation as a collaborative partner, the company said.

Seelan Gobalsamy, CEO of the Omnia Group, said: “In line with Omnia’s growth strategy, it is vital to ensure that we have the leadership bench strength required to achieve our ambitions. It, thus, gives me great pleasure to welcome Ralf in his new role. Ralf’s wealth of experience and understanding of our group allows us to continue to execute on our growth strategy.”

Orica continues to expand digital capabilities with help of Microsoft Azure

Leading blasting company Orica says it is rapidly expanding its digital capability, creating data rich and AI-infused tools that enable step-change improvements in customers’ productivity, safety and sustainability.

Over the last four years, Orica has grown its digital team fivefold, and from a standing start it now has more than 200 customers for its digital solutions – building a whole new offering and revenue stream for the company, it said.

It has now enlisted the help of Microsoft’s Azure platform as the strategic cloud foundation for its emerging digital portfolio. Azure’s performance, reliability, scalability and security provide trusted foundations for innovation while access to Azure IoT, a growing portfolio of Azure cognitive services and an extensive library of AI tools helps accelerate Orica’s digital innovation, according to Rajkumar Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions for Orica.

Mathiravedu is also keen on the industry cross-pollination opportunities that the Azure ecosystem affords. He noted: “We are seeing Azure being deployed in lot of oil and gas applications and some of those can easily be applied in mining.”

Meanwhile he’s keeping a close eye on how emerging Azure capabilities, such as Azure Space which allows satellite information to be made easily accessible, could further expand Orica’s innovation horizons.

The company is already working on open digital platforms that integrate Orica expertise, customers’ own data with machine learning to create intelligent production workflows that, in real time, reveal to mining engineers what they are working with at a particular site and provide live design recommendations.

“Whether it is hard, medium, soft, and how the rock changes and where the most valuable ore is located,” Mathiravedu said. “So what it really means is now you can actually optimise the right explosives energy specific to the desired outcomes.

“This has a huge impact from a sustainability perspective. By using the right energy to break the rocks, we’re optimising the chemical energy. We are materially reducing the water and electricity, which is used for grinding and processing later, while readily managing environmental factors such dust and vibrations.”

This solution is now in production with an iron ore miner based in Australia, he added.

Orica’s cloud based digital platforms are designed to allow information to be shared openly across mining ecosystems – from geological exploration, through blasting, extraction and processing – integrating sensor and IoT data with AI-infused analytics to provide mining customers with the insights which will allow them to go “deeper, steeper and cheaper”, Mathiravedu said.

Leveraging the cloud, IoT, edge-processing and machine learning algorithms, Orica focuses on delivering real-time data-driven insights to help customers optimise energy use, drill patterns and maximise efficiencies both on the mine site and throughout the downstream value chain.

Srikant Kadambi, Energy Lead, Microsoft Asia, said: “Orica has unparalleled domain expertise and global industry knowledge. Combining that with Microsoft Azure capabilities and the ability of our teams and ecosystems to deploy these technologies at production scale allows us to work together to create literally ground-breaking – pun intended – solutions for the whole mining value chain. We bring to the table our whole Azure ecosystem, access to libraries of AI tools developed for different industries, and skills and expertise that we can share with Orica as it continues to grow its digital capability.”

To reinforce this digital focus, Orica has opened a Digital Immersion Centre in Brisbane – a specialised facility where it can, the company says, work with development partners, including Microsoft, and customers to promote innovation, spur collaboration and also establish an Orica data and analytics centre of excellence.

This centre of excellence brings together data science, artificial intelligence, modern cloud computing and Orica’s 140 plus years of domain expertise. It will also act as an incubator for any Orica digital businesses.

Mathiravedu said the digital team is building solutions to support existing Orica customers, as well as new customers from right across the sector’s value chain. Open by design, these platforms are tailored for a range of applications focused around efficiency, productivity and safety as well as to help support customers achieve their own sustainability targets.

“We do not want to be constrained only to existing Orica customers,” he said. “We want to be available to the entire mining value chain.”

Orica looks to further improve blast outcomes with latest OREPro 3D release

Orica has released its latest OREPro™ 3D blast movement modelling software for, it says, maximum ore recovery, productivity and throughput.

Developed in partnership with major mining companies, OREPro 3D, is a software application that accurately models blast movement, enabling situational awareness and improved grade control for customers globally, Orica said.

It uses readily available mine data as inputs, including blast designs, in-situ block models and post-blast muck pile surveys. Algorithms then replicate movement dynamics throughout the entire blast volume and calculate SmartVectors™ that accurately transform the in-situ grade control into a swelled post-blast grade control model, the company explained.

Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Orica has a vision of becoming an integrated ore extraction mining services company and we are rapidly building a portfolio of digital technologies to augment our core explosives technologies and solutions and better serve customers. This technology is a critical enabler to us building an open, secure and connected digital ecosystem that will allow our customers to accurately model and continually improve blast outcomes and the impact on their downstream operations.”

Understanding where the rock mass has moved, post-blast, is critical to separating ore and waste effectively and creating downstream efficiencies in the mining process, and this has the potential to unlock significant value for customers.

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “We’re excited about the OREPro 3D technology as it complements and will soon integrate with our existing suite of market-leading digital blast design, execution and measurement solutions, including SHOTPlus, BlastIQ, FRAGTrack and ORETrack. The integration of these solutions will offer customer’s unrivalled digital workflow solutions from orebody knowledge through to mineral processing.”

OREPro 3D, which is used by many tier-one miners around the world today, Orica says, will continue to be offered as a standalone blast movement solution or optionally integrated with other Orica products and services to deliver greater insights and optimisation opportunities to customers.

BME continues to make blasting strides in Indonesia

Having pursued a global expansion in recent decades, South Africa-based blasting leader BME says it is making good on an exciting new phase for its Indonesia operations.

With mainly a trading presence in Indonesia for 10 years already, the Omnia Group company has been active in full-service contracting for the past two – and is already receiving high-level recognition, it says. In September 2021, BME Indonesia was honoured with a good mining practice award in the blasting services category by the Indonesian Government.

According to Brad Bulow, General Manager of BME Australia Asia, this bodes particularly well for the company in a country with such a bright future in mineral production.

“Indonesia’s mining sector is well positioned for growth, and coal is the fastest growing source of energy production there,” Bulow said. “Coal is mainly used in Indonesia’s power generation, and the country’s supply is dominated by coal-fired power plants at this stage.”

Forecasts indicate that coal will remain a dominant energy source in Indonesia and the South East Asian region until about 2050, supporting power generation and other industry sectors, according to BME.

“Nickel is also an exciting commodity for Indonesia, which is estimated to have the largest reserves of nickel in the world – more even than Australia,” said Bulow. “As an indispensable raw material for producing electric car batteries, nickel is one of the country’s fastest growing mineral commodities.”

Investors are looking at building smelters in-country to process nickel into raw material for batteries, while nickel ore itself has been banned for export by the government since January 2020.

Commenting on the recent good practice award, BME’s Business Manager Indonesia, Agusman, noted that such recognition meant a great deal – and would help cement BME’s reputation as an innovator with world-class standards of operation. BME Indonesia has been supplying explosive products and accessories into Indonesia for over a decade. Holding company BME is a leading player in blasting services and products in Africa, with a global presence including Australia, Canada and the US.

The company has also developed specific products for the region, including a single-salt emulsion. Widely known for its superior dual-salt emulsion technology, BME was able to respond to customer requests in 2019 for a single-salt option. This was put into use in early 2020 and has since been producing excellent blasting results, according to the company. The product has even been trialled with used oil as the fuel agent, which has become an environmentally friendly and sustainable hallmark of BME’s emulsion products.

While BME Indonesia supplied mainly ammonium nitrate, packaged explosives, boosters, and electric and non-electric detonators before 2019, its large blasting services contract in south Kalimantan has opened the door for significant expansion.

“In this project, BME Indonesia has put to work four Mobile Manufacturing Units (MMUs) – our bulk explosives delivery trucks – and an on-site emulsion manufacturing plant,” Bulow said. “In addition to emulsion and down-the-hole services, we are also supplying our AXXIS™ electronic detonators to help customers achieve timing accuracy and control their blasting vibration.”

Another important aspect of BME’s technological contribution is the move by customers toward big data analytics, according to Bulow.

“Big data allows larger mines and their contractors to generate meaningful insights into their operations – paving the way to greater efficiency,” he said. “BME Indonesia is introducing our BLAST ALLIANCE™ portfolio of digital innovations, which includes our BLASTMAP™ planning software, BME Blasting guide app and XPLOLOG™ cloud data platform. Solutions such as AXXIS integration, custom development and training also fall under this brand.”

In the medium term, Bulow said the company looks forward to winning more projects and penetrating further into surface metals and underground mining – and the funding, innovation and advanced technology is in place to achieve this goal.

“Looking further ahead, BME Indonesia expects to continue growing its contribution to Indonesia in general – and local communities in particular,” he said. “This includes our transfer of knowledge and technology, the utilisation of local resources and ongoing community development.”

BME brings technical blasting services online

Omnia Group company, BME, says it is now providing technical blasting services online, giving the industry access to experienced specialists through virtual consultations and solutions.

The service is an important part of BME’s recently upgraded website, according to the company’s Global Manager for Blasting Science, D Scott Scovira.

“Our online technical blasting service is provided not only by BME’s in-house technical staff, but it is also in association with other recognised third-party specialists in blasting, mining and construction,” Scovira said. “The initial online consultation to discuss and scope out a blasting project is at no charge, and the service is not limited to existing BME clients only.”

The range of services offered include blast fragmentation distribution prediction for surface greenfield sites, fragmentation distribution optimisation for supporting mine-to-mill initiatives at established surface and underground sites, and rock characterisation and specifications for blasting in hot or reactive ground. The team are also able to provide solutions related to highwall blast design and management, as well as novel and disruptive blast design and mining methods, it said.