Tag Archives: Blasting

BME builds blasting connections in North America

BME says continued lethargy in the global economy – aggravated by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus – did not dampen the enthusiasm of the South Africa-based blasting leader’s review of the recent Prospectors and Developers Association Conference (PDAC) in Toronto, Canada.

BME was at the show, which took place on March 1-4, showcasing its brand and global presence, including in North America.

BME General Manager Technology and Marketing, Ralf Hennecke, said: “This year was particularly exciting for us to be exhibiting, following the launch of BME Mining Canada Inc last year – our joint venture with Consbec, the largest civils drill and blast contractor in Canada.

“There was considerable excitement among the decision makers and businesses we met about the entry of another experienced player into the region’s explosives and blasting market.”

Hennecke said the mood at the Toronto gathering was buoyed by a gradual uptick in exploration projects and several mine expansions – even though the outlook for most base metals was conservative.

“It was pleasing to see that Canada was in the top three exploration performers globally, which bodes well for the country’s mining future,” he said.

He noted many of the mining companies represented at the event also had operations in BME strongholds like West Africa, even operating in other BME territories such as Southeast Asia. The company’s globalisation strategy was also paving the way for greater future involvement in global mining tenders, he said.

“Events like PDAC allow us to steadily build links in new territories like North America, leveraging the relationships we already have with majors and juniors in that market,” Hennecke said. “In addition to prospective mining customers, we also regularly meet a range of important service providers and contractors with whom we might work in future.”

Emphasising BME’s commitment to collaboration in the market – especially in the digital and technological space – he said these links were increasingly important to facilitate the integration of technologies in the interest of more productive mining.

“Mines are looking to synergise their supply chains to ensure they benefit optimally from the various services and product developments,” he said. “This means that technology providers must have the capacity to continuously integrate their offerings into customers’ systems – even collaborating with other technology providers to do so. This integration is vital to allow mines to harness the power of new innovations.”

Dyno Nobel helps BMA Caval Ridge become electronic blasting leader

The Caval Ridge coal mine, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia, now holds the title of the world’s largest electronic blast completed using Dyno Nobel DigiShot technology.

The BHP Mitsubishi Alliance-owned (BMA) mine completed a blast in December that saw 4.7 Mcu.m of overburden shifted in a blast fired with 2,194 t of bulk explosives across 3,899 holes.

Back in October, BHP Mitsui Coal’s Poitrel mine, in Queensland, became the holder of the title of world’s largest blast using wireless technology after successfully completing the third blast in a trial series to test Orica’s WebGen technology. The blast saw 1.3 million cu.m of overburden shifted in a strata blast fired with 1920 WebGen 100 units across 534 holes, BHP Mitsui said.

Caval Ridge Drill and Blast Superintendent, Dallas Gostelow, said the electronic blast was loaded over 14 days, involving engineers, schedulers and the E and F Blast crews. It involved a combination of four related blast patterns, using 8,144 detonators – a significant number that Gostelow said the company had never set before at the one time.

He said there were significant safety, efficiency and cost improvements to be made using the electronic technology.

“Timings for the detonators are fully programmable and each blast hole is physically connected to the surface by a wire, but the systems is less complicated and fully digitised, which means higher fidelity of tie in to reduce misfire potential,” he said.

Dyno Nobel launched its DigiShot Plus 4G electronic initiation system back in 2018. The system, developed by Dyno Nobel’s joint venture partner DetNet®, was designed to help reduce overall costs and increase productivity by reducing blasting delays and introducing programming speeds seven times faster than existing systems.

The ability to fire larger blasts, or multiple blast patterns in one event, means downtime for equipment is kept to a minimum, according to BMA.

Jason Smith, Principal Category Management TCO, Drill Blast & Geology, said the successful outcome of the blast was down to the collaboration across asset, function and supplier.

He said the commercial team and Caval Ridge worked with Dyno Nobel to deliver improved technology that would provide bigger and more accurate shots with significant improvements to safety, productivity and cost.

“The significance of it is the precision timing you can get from using electronics rather than pyrotechnical blasting, which requires thousands of metres of on bench tie-in work, and can lead to poor blast fragmentation,” Smith said.

“With the collaboration between Dyno and BMA, it is allowing Dyno to improve their product and giving BMA the advantage of better blasting and fragmentation and larger shots.

“This is a perfect example of the commercial teams working in the background to strengthen a supplier relationship and the site and supplier working together to deliver superior results.”

MAXAM ready to blast at Glencore’s Lomas Bayas copper mine

MAXAM is to supply its high-energy bulk explosive, RIOFLEX, alongside other solutions, to the Glencore-operated Lomas Bayas mine, in Chile, as part of a blasting services contract.

The Lomas Bayas open-pit copper mine is in northern Chile and produces copper cathode on site. In the first half of 2019, Lomas Bayas produced 40,000 t of copper metal, up from 33,800 t a year earlier, Glencore said.

MAXAM said: “With this contract, MAXAM continues to expand its operations and global presence, and currently has more than 80 industrial facilities, subsidiaries in more than 50 countries on five continents and 6,500 employees worldwide.

“In fact, MAXAM is the second largest operator of blasting solutions for mining, quarries and infrastructure in terms of international presence.”

RIOFLEX is a highly energetic, robust and flexible density bulk product that, MAXAM says, achieves excellent performance in all types of rock. It has been tested in more than 140 sites in 25 countries.

Diego Rodríguez, Regional Director of MAXAM in Latin America, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Minera Lomas Bayas and offer our innovative solutions in the operation. At every operation, our clients always highlight our closeness and experience, contributing to improve their efficiency and productivity, something that we will undoubtedly also deliver in Lomas Bayas.”

Mining3 makes emulsion breakthrough on alternative explosives project

In November, Mining3 says it achieved a significant milestone with the successful detonation of a world first hydrogen peroxide-based emulsion explosive as part of its alternative explosives project.

Using proprietary formulations, a series of trial blasts confirmed its ability to detonate, and provided early steps into the characterisation of this improved product, Mining3 said. “The new formulation is a major achievement in superseding water-gel/hydrogel formulations and a crucial advancement in product stability and sleep-time,” the company said.

Mining3 and the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering at the University of Queensland are testing alternative explosive formulations, which eliminate the nitrogen component and replace it with hydrogen peroxide as the main oxidising agent. By removing the nitrogen component of the explosive formulation, it eliminates any NOx fumes generated after blasting, the partners said.

Back in January, Mining3 reported that detonation performance tests, conducted in December 2018 using new materials in the formula – physical sensitisation materials based on glass and polystyrene materials – had delivered improved explosive performance, reliability and product stability.

In its latest report, Mining3 reported on its emulsion developments: “Gums and emulsifiers, are the binding agents in water-gel and emulsions, respectively. Importantly, gums have a low-level organic contamination which leads to hydrogen peroxide degradation and limited current water-gel technology for manufacture-and-immediate-detonation applications.

“With synthetically produced emulsifiers, the material can be inert-to-hydrogen peroxide, lengthening the product stability to a significant period and enabling broader applications in the mining industry.”

Considerable effort has been invested in the pursuit of compatible emulsifiers, Mining3 said, and, with recent successes in detonation trials, it has made the past year of research “worthwhile”.

It continued: “Not only do we have a formulation with advanced oxidiser/fuel intimacy but also considerable advances in stability. Manufacture techniques have also maintained the ambient temperature methodology that gives the hydrogen peroxide-based explosives technology a distinct advantage in production cost.”

Over five days at RUREX, Australia’s only professional independent detonation testing range, upwards of 60 detonation tests were fired. Several other formulations were tested that will advance in the technology pipeline, but it is the confirmation of emulsion tests that was the most immediate success, according to Mining3.

This research has been supported by ACARP from its inception and transfer of this technology to the industry is eagerly anticipated, Mining3 added.

Dr Andrew Kettle, Senior Experimental Scientist and Project Executor, said: “These blasts have confirmed that we are pursuing the right pathway forward. We have invigorated enthusiasm going forward to further characterise the new emulsions in preparation for mine site trials in 2020. We are indebted, of course, to the ongoing support of ACARP and RUREX, and the vision of Mining3.”

ENAEX and Sasol sign explosives and rock fragmentation JV to service southern Africa

ENAEX, a subsidiary of the Sigdo Koppers Group, says it has reached an agreement with integrated energy and chemical company, Sasol, to become a strategic partner of its explosives and rock fragmentation division.

The agreement, signed this week after a negotiation process initiated last July, considers ENAEX to take part in the business as the controlling partner of this firm, it said. This would be formed by spinning off certain assets and associated activities within the current explosives value chain of the Base Chemicals business of Sasol South Africa.

The new joint venture company will include the associated business activities in both South Africa and the rest of the countries in Southern Africa, with the explosives division having over 1,000 employees, producing more than 350,000 t/y of explosives and generating around $250 million of revenue annually, ENAEX says.

Sasol was founded in 1950 and is today a participant in the explosives industry in South Africa, with a presence also in Namibia and Lesotho.

Juan Andrés Errázuriz, ENAEX CEO, said: “Having successfully completed the process to become a strategic partner of Sasol is a very relevant milestone for Enaex. By this, we have taken a big step in consolidating our company in international markets and expanding the value offer for our customers.”

Errázuriz said, because of its size, Africa was currently the third largest explosive market in the world, with significant growth potential.

“Towards its progress, we can contribute with the extensive knowledge, technology and innovation that we have been developing in the rock fragmentation industry for mining,” he said.

This joint venture is part of the strategic plan of ENAEX to continue strengthening its international presence in the most important mining regions of the world and is subject to any necessary approvals from public authorities, it said.

MAXAM hopes new high-energy cartridge watergel catches on in Latin America

MAXAM has used the backdrop of the 34th edition of the Perumin conference in Arequipa, Peru, to announce a new production line of cartridge explosives to be made at its Cocachacra plant in the country.

The manufacture of RIOGEL, alongside the initiation systems and RIOXAM ANFO products the company produces at its Cochachacra plant, should increase MAXAM’s capabilities in Latin America, it said.

RIOGEL is the latest generation of high-energy cartridge watergel developed by MAXAM and has important advantages over other products. “Thanks to its high energy, it allows optimal rock fragmentation, increasing the productivity of the operation,” the company said, adding that it guarantees a good blasting result even under dynamic pressure.

“With a better balance of oxygen in its composition, RIOGEL reduces the emission of toxic fumes such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide,” MAXAM says. This shortens the return times to blasting fronts and, thus, optimises the operations’ performance.

It also comes with environmental benefits given its manufacturing process requires 95% less water than an emulsion.

José Luis Alonso, General Manager, MAXAM in Peru, said: “In addition to offering innovative products that allow us to increase the productivity of our customers, at MAXAM we have the technical capabilities to respond to their specific needs. We offer adapted and valuable solutions in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and the rest of South America.”

The company is showing the advantages of RIOGEL as well as its innovations and latest developments in blasting services during the Perumin tradeshow, from September 16-20.

DynoConsult expands its reach and looks for closer mining company collaboration

Dyno Nobel Americas has announced value-added enhancements to its DynoConsult® business that, the company says, has a wider reach and includes programs to increase “saleable yield”, manage regulatory compliance and neighbour relations at customer sites, and reduce overall operating costs.

For more than 20 years, the DynoConsult team of experts has developed technical solutions to assist with customers’ operations.

The new and improved DynoConsult has specific offerings designed around improving blast performance through tried and true techniques, while collaborating with customers to meet specific blast outcome needs, the company says.

“The process begins with a rapid diagnostic assessment of the overall operation to determine cost drivers and potential areas for improvement,” Dyno Nobel Americas explained.

Drill hole planning and execution

Many customers experience poor field conditions and lack standard operating procedures, which prevent accurate drill-to-plan size, and angle and burden, the company explains.

“This results in sub-optimal blasting results, poor fragmentation, and excessive downstream costs (eg processing),” Dyno Nobel Americas said. “Expert assessments from DynoConsult of process deficiencies utilising a range of software and hardware measurement tools are part of the drill hole execution offering to measure drill-to-plan error and assist in implementing best practice methods.”

Optimisation tests look at the accuracy of drill-to-plan implementation, measurement of results downstream with telemetry, plant analytics, power consumption and other customer-specific metrics.

Detonation optimisation

Detonation issues, such as imprecise timing, vibration control, misfires and poor blast control are common for customers and can create operational inefficiencies, suboptimal throughput and safety hazards.

Dyno Nobel’s suite of detonation products and software services will be used by DynoConsult field engineers to enhance detonation practices and combat inefficiencies.

“Many of these software tools are proprietary and only available to DynoConsult team members,” the company said.

Explosive product selection

Some customers also face explosive selection issues that involve suboptimal choice or combination of explosives, services, and delivery systems that result in poor fragmentation or inefficient operations.

DynoConsult experts will prescribe the optimal explosive product(s) for the specific geological, logistical, or operational considerations of the site in order to optimise blast outcomes. “These recommendations are driven by evaluating overall operating costs and, specifically, costs downstream of the blasting process,” the company said.

Community relations and regulatory support

“Customers are often met with other issues involving safety, regulatory compliance, and surrounding community relationship issues dealing with vibration, fly rock and/or airblast,” Dyno Nobel said.

These issues can result in complaints from residential neighbourhoods or other problems, like on-site injuries, penalties, fines or shutdowns. DynoConsult experts can advise on mitigating issues with vibration, fly rock and overpressure that result in complaints. In addition, consultation on legal or regulatory issues can be provided with the intent of minimising disruptions to site operations or productivity levels, the company said.

Stockpile measurement

Measurement methods resulting in inconsistent volumetric accuracy, poor standardisation and substantial lag-time often strain customers’ ability to satisfy regulatory requirements. This impedes their ability to effectively manage inventory logistics.

The company said: “Using Dyno Nobel’s range of measurement software and drone imaging technology, a DynoConsult technical expert can provide stockpile measurement service that is accurate, fast, replicable and cost-effective.”

Fragmentation optimisation

“When customers have an overly aggressive or conservative drill plan, it results in suboptimal fragmentation,” Dyno Nobel says, explaining that optimal fragmentation must be defined by the customer and is unique to every operation, based on geologic conditions, local market and processing plant design.

“Limited onsite resources can make it difficult for customers to ensure equipment and resources are available in the right place at the right time,” the company said. “DynoConsult will use Dyno Nobel technologies and products to analyse baseline drill plans, identify inefficiencies and implement best practice solutions to provide site specific optimized fragmentation.”

Software solutions

DynoConsult now has the capability to offer Dyno Nobel’s full suite of technology applications and software. This includes tools like DataMiner, Dyno42, SignaShot and ShotReport.

MAXAM looks to improve engagement with global customer base

MAXAM has announced the launch of a new online channel to address customer needs worldwide as part of the company’s transformation process towards becoming a global technology leader present in over 50 countries worldwide.

The new website offers improved user experience navigation with a responsive design, according to MAXAM.

Fernanda Cardama, MAXAM Global Head of People and Resources, said: “This new online channel has been envisioned to meet the costumer’s online journey to better reach and engage with our global audiences all over the world.”

The new global domain (www.maxamcorp.com) will, according to the company, enable access to:

  • Customised solutions supported by MAXAM’s best in class technology platform of energetic materials, focusing on mining, quarries, infrastructure construction, seismic prospecting and special applications;
  • Case studies of MAXAM global operations carried out in the most challenging conditions such as the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Port of Singapore, demolition of the Puertollano Tower and the construction of the Brenner Tunnel; and
  • In-depth insights developed by MAXAM technical experts and leadership team tackling industry trends and management visions: co-creation with customers to generate value, digitalisation and underwater blasting.

Orica turns wireless blasting dream into a reality at Europe’s deepest mine

In Europe’s first demonstration of wireless blasting, Orica has enabled First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) Pyhäsalmi underground mine in Finland to recover ore it previously thought inaccessible.

Orica’s WebGen™ 100, the first truly wireless rock blasting system, has been used in trials at the zinc-copper-pyrite mine since September 2018, with FQM, to date, carrying out five blasts.

Since the invention of the safety fuse by William Bickford in 1831, there has been three revolutions in blast initiation methods – electric detonators (1930s), shock tube (1980s) and electronics (~2000s). Every new initiation method development has increased the safety, precision and possibilities of initiating blasts.

The new Safety Integrity Level 3 certified WebGen system could end up being the fourth revolution in this line-up, Orica believes.

Still in its infancy with, as of August, more than 250 blasts fired using wireless initiation, the WebGen technology has already led to the development of several new mining techniques such as Temporary Rib Pillar (TRP), Temporary Uppers Retreat Pillar, Reverse Throw Retreat, Longitudinal Transverse Retreat and Pre-Loaded Retreat that would not be viable or possible without wireless blasting technology.

WebGen comprises the following components:

  • WebGen primer and accessories – including the high explosive Pentex™ W booster, i-kon™ plugin electronic detonator, the Disposable Receiver (DRX) and the encoder controller;
  • Transmission system – including transmitter, antenna and transmitter controller; and
  • Code Management Computer (CMC) – including the unique global blast and arm codes.

The system achieves wireless blasting through very low frequency magnetic induction (MI) signals communicated to the in-hole primer, with the special site-specific group ID, arm and firing codes embedded in the MI signals. The system eliminates the lead wires of conventional initiation systems, thereby also eliminating the ‘hook-up’ process at the blastholes.

The operation works as follows: The i-kon plugin detonator plugs into the DRX, energising the device and initiating a self-test. After passing the self-test, the device can be encoded with the blast code and the delay timing. The booster is attached after encoding the device. At this stage the WebGen primer is ready to be placed into the blasthole.

The transmitter controller – a magnetic induction system connected to an antenna – sends the arming signal to the transmitter. Once the arming process is successful the firing window is presented to the blaster.

The CMC is the data hub of the system and supplies the identification and firing codes as well as the mine specific codes. Orica explained: “It culminates in the ready to fire file for transmission.”

Game changer

With the elimination of lead wires, it is possible to pre-charge a full stope (eg sub-level caving mining method) and fire every ring when required without sending personnel back to the dangerous brow area to connect lead lines, Orica says. “Misfires related to damaged wires are eliminated and primers can be fired regardless of any dislocations of blasthole and/or charge.”

The Ernest Henry mine, in north-eastern Australia, engaged Orica in 2016 to perform a demonstration of sub-level caving using WebGen. The mine wanted to reduce the time spent by personnel at the brow of the cave. With the use of WebGen they were successful in pre-loading the stope production rings and eliminating the need to return to the brow for hooking up.

At Newmont Goldcorp’s Musselwhite mine, productivity and ore recovery were the main drivers for looking into wireless blasting. Together with Orica, Musselwhite developed the TRP mining method where a temporary pillar is used to withhold backfill while the second mass blast (i-kon electronic detonators) of the stope is mucked out.

Orica explained: “Once the stope is mucked out, the TRP is fired remotely and the ore can be recovered.”

With this method the mine established a 93% reduction in dilution, increase in mucking of 27% and a two-week saving in time per stope, the company said.

FQM – Pyhäsalmi

In March 2018, a team of Orica Technical Services Engineers commenced preparations and planning for the first wireless demonstration in Europe with the FQM Pyhäsalmi mine, in Finland, the deepest mine in the continent.

At the time, the mine was scheduled to close in September 2019; most of the stopes had been mined out and the remaining stopes and pillars were becoming increasingly challenging to mine. Orica said: “Pyhäsalmi had developed a system to mine the stranded pillars, but this was incurring considerable time and costs. Pyhäsalmi mine acknowledged that WebGen 100 could be a solution for the problems in retrieving remaining ore in difficult areas.”

As a first stop, the Orica team of blasting specialists had to assess if the WebGen system would successfully function in Pyhäsalmi mine. “Before firing the WebGen shot it was important to investigate if the system would work in the mine and what the maximum signal reach would be for both the quad loop and cable loop antenna,” the company said.

Signal strength testing provides positive confirmation of coded signals being received through the mine and also validates if there are any parts of the mine where the system has a reduced range.

A smaller antenna and a larger antenna were tested.

Pyhäsalmi experiences occasional sulphur dust explosions and, therefore, personnel are not allowed to be underground while blasting, Orica said. As a result, blasting takes place at the end of the shift after the shift explosives supervisor checks everyone has vacated the mine.

Initial signal testing with the smaller antenna validated the system was working with a range of at least 200 m. Further signal testing was performed using the larger antenna.

It was validated the system could send and receive signals from the production level to the furthest stope, which was 450 m away, Orica said.

After assessing the MI signal test results, it was decided it would be more convenient to use the smaller antenna.

In September 2018, the EMEA WebGen team returned to Pyhäsalmi mine for the first wireless blast in Europe. The final three rings of stope 18b10-11 on Level 1,175 were selected for the demonstration blast.

On September 4, 2018, at 22:00, the first wireless blast in Europe was fired without any issue.

Since the introduction of wireless blasting, Pyhäsalmi mine has fired a total of five blasts in challenging areas.

For one of the wireless blasts, a stope would not be accessible after the first blast, but, as the stope could be pre-loaded with wireless detonators, the mine could blast and produce 4,000 t of extra ore that otherwise would have been sterilised.

Katja Sahala, Mine Planning Engineer, FQM Pyhäsalmi mine, said she saw the WebGen wireless system as helping operations in several applications such as when ore needs to be left behind to support pillars, or where there is weak rock, or fill and selective mining is required.

She said: “In uphole charging, you need to work close or even below an open face during drilling and blasting. If it’s possible to drill and charge an entire stope before the first hole is fired, then safety will surely be improved.”

Orica said wireless blasting is a new and exciting technology that eliminates the use of cumbersome and complex wiring hook-ups while having the accuracy of an electronic detonator. It has already enabled safer work methods and mining techniques that increase recovery, productivity and efficiency, according to the company.

It concluded: “Many technical and regulatory challenges will be faced by wireless blasting, but it is a fundamental step in the automation of the explosives charging and blasting process. With the first WebGen blasts at FQM Pyhäsalmi mine, wireless blasting is no longer a dream in Europe, but a reality.”

BHP looks for blasting safety and productivity gains with Dyno Nobel deal

BHP has announced an agreement with explosives supplier Dyno Nobel, a business of Incitec Pivot Limited, to invest in a blast technology research program to improve the safety and productivity across its Australian operations.

As part of a Technology Alliance Agreement with BHP, Dyno Nobel will invest A$25 million ($17 million) over the next five years to pursue technology improvements that will directly benefit BHP’s mining operations.

Dyno Nobel’s research and development will be undertaken collaboratively with input from BHP, with the aim of focusing the investment in areas with the greatest potential impact, Dyno Nobel said. In addition, BHP will provide ongoing reviews, feedback and site access for prototype testing.

“For example, Dyno Nobel’s Differential Energy and Digishot Plus 4G technologies are proven to improve safety, efficiency and environmental impacts on the ground today,” the company said.

Dyno Nobel says it will also have semi-autonomous mobile processing units (MPU) (the trucks that fill blast holes with explosives) developed by the end of this year, followed by the development of fully-autonomous MPUs – all of which have the potential to take people out of harm’s way and improve efficiency.

Dyno Nobel’s technology roadmap is broad, the company said, including new developments in digital technologies, bulk explosives, equipment automation and initiating systems including wireless technology.

BHP Group Procurement Officer, Sundeep Singh (left), said: “The Technology Alliance Agreement is a great example of BHP partnering with suppliers to drive improvement that will benefit our company and the sector as a whole.

“As well as providing an avenue to improve our own drill and blasting activities in Queensland and Western Australia, the partnership will support our pursuit of better environmental stewardship through a joint commitment to eradicate the use of palm oil in the explosive manufacturing process.”

Managing Director and CEO of Incitec Pivot Limited, Jeanne Johns (right), said, “Our industry leading technology is on the ground today, and this joint value sharing Technology Alliance Agreement is an example of our customer focused approach to building strong collaborative partnerships. I am excited about demonstrating the value of our current offer on the ground today and developing technologies with our valued customer and global mining house, BHP for the mine of the future.”

Johns added: “Our leading explosives technology is clever in design, adds immediate value to BHP’s operation through productivity, safety and environmental benefits, and demonstrates the potential of technology to transform the Australian resources industry.”

Pivotal to this alliance is Dyno Nobel’s market leading Differential Energy technology. With successes in the US market, it is now being rolled out to sites across Australia as the benefits are recognised by leading mining companies, the company said.

This Technology Alliance Agreement was an integral part of a suite of contract renewals for the supply of explosives products and services to BHP’s open-pit operations at BMA, BHP Iron Ore and Nickel West, according to Dyno Nobel.