Orica and Epiroc, in partnership with Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel™ – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine in Finland.
The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept that dramatically improves safety at the face, which is one of the highest risk activities in underground mining today, Orica and Epiroc say.
Avatel enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin while offering the best available blast outcomes through the integration of Orica and Epiroc’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.
The first successful blast was loaded and fired on November 22, 2022, comprising 61 Orica WebGen™ 200 Dev wireless primers and 295 kilograms of Orica’s Subtek™ bulk emulsion loaded to a development face at the Kittilä mine.
Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.
“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimisation benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring. The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers, we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”
Sami Niiranen, President for Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognised solutions and advanced Rig Control System, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry.”
Jari Näsi, Development Manager – Kittilä Mine, Agnico Eagle, said: “We are proud to create history here at Kittilä where the first mechanised and wireless development blast was initiated. There is always some risk when working close to the face; being able to do this work safely and efficiently from the cabin is promising, and mechanising the process will give a better blasting result.”
The first commercial implementation of Avatel will take place at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations from December 2022.