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.
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.”