Tag Archives: David Kelly

Aquirian set to expand drill and blast portfolio with Hanwha ammonium nitrate emulsion plant

Specialist mining services provider Aquirian Limited, via its wholly owned subsidiaries, has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the assets and land comprising the Wubin ammonium nitrate emulsion plant from Hanwha, with the company also setting out plans to offer Hanwha’s patented X-Load™ range of products in Western Australia.

The facility was built and commissioned in 2020 and is production-ready, with licensing to produce 110,000 t/y of ammonium nitrate emulsion. It was put into care and maintenance in 2021 as part of Hanwha’s strategic decision to exit the bulk explosives market in Australia, with Hanwha selling its other emulsion production assets in Queensland and New South Wales to Orica earlier this year.

Aquirian will pay A$9.6 million ($6.04 million) for the facility, which is some way below the replacement cost of A$18 million the company previously obtained.

The facility site comprises 142 ha of freehold land in Wubin, with the company having also purchased an adjoining property of 9 ha in September this year. This additional property provides accommodation options for staff, with airstrip access, and is expected to de-risk the investment in the facility by allowing for future growth in capacity and storage.

The Wubin facility is strategically located on the northern freight corridor, removing exposure to major population centres and providing access to up to 1.25 Mt of potential explosive demand across Western Australia, the company estimates. The facility’s location provides direct access to up to 75% of the potential explosives market across the Midwest and Pilbara, it says.

Aquirian Managing Director, David Kelly, comments: “This unique opportunity evolves Aquirian as a diversified mining service company, adding further value across the drill and blast value chain. Our management team has extensive industry knowledge, including with this facility, and I am excited by this acquisition and the potential synergies and opportunities it offers. Our acquisition of a near new strategically located asset below likely replacement cost is anticipated to enable us to fast-track our growth plans and provide clients with a new range of services and products to achieve sustainable outcomes in their operations.”

Kelly was also previously the Managing Director of Hanwha in Australia.

The transfer or securing of required licences in favour of Western Energetics is anticipated to take 3-5 months and is a condition precedent to completion of the sale transaction. Once the sale transaction is completed, it is expected to take between 8-12 weeks to bring the facility back online and into production, the company says.

The facility can produce a variety of nitrate-based emulsions. These emulsions are a class 5.1 dangerous good used as a precursor raw material that is blended with other materials to produce a variety of bulk explosives, which are used in mining operations across Western Australia.

The site is also set up as a logistics and storage hub for ammonium nitrate with a storage capacity of 1,500 t currently, with the objective to be expanded to circa-10,000 t.

Aquirian’s technology portfolio is focused on optimising blast hole quality to ensure better client outcomes. This acquisition will bring the company’s offerings closer to providing drilling technology alongside optimised energetics, to meet its clients’ changing and challenging mine conditions, it says.

The acquisition of the facility is conditional on Hanwha granting the company an exclusive licence to manufacture and supply Hanwha’s patented X-Load range of products in Western Australia and a non-exclusive licence to use and sell other of Hanwha’s products. X-Load is a low-density waterproof energetics solution for the challenging and wet mining conditions in the Pilbara mining region. This region traditionally uses basic ANFO product which is not waterproofed. X-Load provides an energy profile and density that mimics ANFO while being a waterproof solution, according to Acquirian.

Collar Keeper System exceeds expectations in latest Western Australia field trial

Aquirian Limited says its wholly owned subsidiary, TBS Mining Solutions Pty Ltd, has completed the final in-field trials of its Collar Keeper® System.

The field trials were conducted at a gold mine in the Mid-West of Western Australia, on a blasthole track rig in both wet and dry conditions. The trial included full production testing over the course of seven continuous shifts irrespective of ground conditions, it said.

Over the course of the trial, 254 production holes were drilled including 30 wet holes in difficult ground conditions where The Collar Keeper System eliminated the requirement for costly and time-consuming collar piping, according to Aquirian. In addition, the system achieved significantly reduced drilling time for the wet holes, seeing greater than 50% improvement in drill yield in these areas. Importantly, the system maintained full hole depth across all the holes removing the need for any re-drills.

“This post-drill hole quality represents a significant shift in operational benefit for the industry, removing costly rework in redrills and duplication of blasthole dipping throughout the drill and blast cycle,” the company said. “With the improvement in drill cycle times, drill yield and the elimination of re-drills experienced during the trial, it is expected the Collar Keeper System will make a notable impact on reducing CO2 intensity per drill hole produced.”

Just last month, TBS entered into a binding technology Memorandum of Understanding with MACA Mining Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of MACA Ltd, looking at collaborating on the development and commercialisation of the Collar Keeper System.

Greg Patching, Executive Director Business Development & Innovation, said: “We are again thrilled with the performance of our Collar Keeper System in a variety of typical drilling conditions. The system’s ability to improve overall drill time across the holes and, more importantly, deliver repeatable quality blastholes irrespective of conditions was fantastic.”

TBS has entered preliminary discussions with several clients for the Collar Keeper System with commercialisation to begin in the September quarter of 2022. The company is targeting implementation on 12-15 track rig units by June 2022, generating revenue of approximately A$125,000-$200,000/mth ($88,836-142,107) on an ongoing basis. The current commercialisation focus will target approximately 200 blasthole track rigs operating on mines (excluding quarries) in Western Australia alone, noting that thousands of these rigs operate on mines globally.

David Kelly, Managing Director, said: “This is a really exciting time for Aquirian as we work towards realising the commercialisation of the Collar Keeper System. It will not only make a step change impact on cost and quality for our customers, but it will also introduce a new and significant revenue stream for the company into the future.”

Aquirian buoyed by Collar Keeper System blasthole results in Western Australia

Aquirian Ltd says it has successfully completed the Stage II prototype trial of its Collar Keeper® System (patent pending), a technology designed to improve blasthole quality control across the mining sector.

The Stage II prototype unit was deployed on an existing drill rig operating in a hard-rock gold mining environment in the mid-west of Western Australia, according to Aquirian. The trial successfully tested fitment to existing drill rigs and delivered marked improvements to drilling rates and drill hole quality.

Drilling rates were improved by approximately two minutes per drill hole on a 5 m blast bench during testing, which equates to an improvement of more than 20% over conventional drill methods, the company claims. Further benefit in time savings as compared with a traditional collar piping process is expected to be realised during Stage III testing in December 2021, it added.

The prototype testing was conducted over numerous blast holes, testing system functionality and speed of deployment.

The Collar Keeper System is a combination of Aquirian-developed, retrofittable drilling apparatus combined with its existing Collar Keeper. The technology represents a step change in managing blasthole quality and is targeted to provide a unique solution to a range of different blasting environments with global applications, the company said.

The initial focus for the technology will be on mines operating in Western Australia with smaller-diameter holes in challenging ground conditions, where high-cost collar piping is traditionally used.

“The traditional method of collar piping has not changed in over 40 years and introduces significant hazards as well as cost, time and quality issues, and poor blast outcomes for clients,” the company said. “In addition, the poor blasting outcomes lead to further downstream costs in load and haul, and the processing of mined material.”

The current development focus is targeting around 200 operating drill rigs in Western Australia alone, pending the commercialisation of the technology intended for the 2022 financial year.

Aquirian Managing Director, David Kelly said: “We are excited by the successful trial of our Stage ll prototype last week. The system can be quickly and easily retrofitted to existing drill rigs and the improvements to drilling rates and blasthole quality exceeded our expectations. We will continue trialling the Collar Keeper System in alternate conditions with the aim of commercialisation over the current financial year.”