Tag Archives: Drill and blast

PT Kaltim Prima Coal feels the effects of AECI IntelliShot electronic blasting initiation system

Having previously relied on conventional non-electric initiation systems, Indonesia-based PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) has turned to AECI Mining Explosives’ IntelliShot® electronic blasting initiation system to improve the safety and efficiency of its operations.

Located close to Sangatta and Bengalon, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, KPC operates one of the largest open-pit mines in the world with coal resources of 9,275 Mt. The mine employs load and haul operations within its numerous pits, which are managed by two mining divisions: Mining Operation Division (MOD) and Contract Mining Division (CMD).

KPC commenced with coal production in 1992 and today moves approximately 500 million bank cubic metres of overburden per year, which allows the production of 60 Mt of coal. About 80% of the overburden requires drilling and blasting to enable efficient excavation, AECI says.

The mine has traditionally used conventional non-electric initiation within its CMD area, where AECI Mining Explosives Indonesia (AECI Indonesia) is contracted as the blasting services provider. This method required a lead-in-line to be run from the blast location to the firing position. In 2017, this method of initiation consumed approximately 650 m of lead-in-line per blast location, according to AECI.

High daily production targets set by KPC require multiple locations from where blasts could be initiated safely.

“Whilst this is possible within the strict safety parameters set by the mine, it sometimes requires some clever footwork, especially related to moving expensive capital equipment out of harm’s way,” AECI says. “This cumbersome method isn’t always the most efficient and often result in a loss of production time.”

AECI Indonesia, as the incumbent blasting services provider for KPC CMD since 2009, suggested IntelliShot, the company’s advanced electronic blasting initiation system.

IntelliShot has the capability to initiate one or more initiating systems wirelessly, known as remote firing. This application has the ability to generate much needed efficiencies by only using a short length of harness wire as opposed to the cost of a full lead-in-line when non-electric blast initiation is applied in the same application, the company says.

“Any new application of technology at the mine requires careful planning and demonstration of the ability to safely maintain improvement of these parameters,” it says. “The AECI Indonesia team embarked on a carefully controlled trial to test the applicability of the system and to ensure that KPC gets the full benefits.”

In addition to saving on costly lead-in lines, remote firing through the IntelliShot system offers additional safety benefits such as an advanced security system, the possibility to easily initiate the blast at larger and safer distances, allowance for the blaster to fire from locations that give greater visual security of the blast area during firing, and eliminating potential slap, snap and shoot that is possible with shock tube.

The introduction of remote firing at KPC was performed as a project and carried out in stages in the CMD area of KPC. Focused key performance indicator (KPI) targets agreed by the project team were carefully monitored on a daily basis to ensure the best possible outcome.

The project was conducted in the three CMD contractor pit areas at Sangatta and Bengalon under the management of KPC drill and blast department. AECI Indonesia successfully delivered multiple events of remote firing blasting in all areas. The team also complied with all safety and efficiency KPIs, AECI says.

The average usage of harness wire per remote firing event was around 100 m, compared with 650 m per blast of lead-in-line used in conventional blast initiation and has reduced the cost of blast initiation in KPC CMD by over 50%, AECI claims.

Yuli Prihartono, KPC Drill & Blast Manager, says: “Throughout the trial project of remote firing at CMD pits, AECI Mining Explosives has demonstrated its capability to deliver safe and efficient project to world class operations. Remote firing has successfully delivered quantifiable cost benefits for KPC. We expect AECI Mining Explosives to expand this initiative by introducing remote firing to all blast locations at CMD KPC.”

Maptek helps Anglo American with continuous drill and blast process improvements

Maptek’s BlastLogic drill and blast software is helping Anglo American’s mines significantly improve its processes, the Australia-based company said in its latest Forge Newsletter.

The miner commenced implementation of Maptek BlastLogic in 2017 to deliver the digitisation of critical drill and blast information. The goal was to transform inconsistent practices into an integrated function underpinning safety and value protection.

In a Technical and Innovation update from May 2021, Anglo American reported a 50% improvement in drill and blast execution versus plan, which, it said, was enabled via real-time, in-field digital platforms.

Dr Alan Tordoir, Lead Drill & Blast Group Mining Technical & Sustainability for Anglo American, oversees drill and blast for 20 surface and 12 underground operations. He benchmarked the original rollout of BlastLogic at six open-pit sites, which has enabled streamlined uptake at a total of 15 global locations so far, according to Maptek.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in the industry, with a lot of new technologies and processes emerging,” Dr Tordoir says.

Traditional paper-based drill and blast processes are inefficient, complicated by multiple platforms contributing to design, hole placement and tie-up, according to Maptek. Data transfer between stages leads to further communication challenges between the field and office.

BlastLogic stores a single source of truth for all processes, Maptek says, with the outcome being a significant increase in downstream productivity and better management of explosive risks. It is an all-in-one solution adding value to open-pit operations through streamlined drill and blast design, tracking and analysis.

“It enables operations to make blast implementation decisions with reference to mine plans, geology and geotechnical data with instant data connection and visualisation in the field or office,” Maptek says.

Anglo American, Maptek says, has found that design and execution teams have been brought closer together by using BlastLogic, while providing the data in a timely manner allows every level of the organisation to make proactive decisions.

“However good a new system is, the changeover phase can be disruptive,” Maptek says. “Maptek supports customers through BlastLogic configuration, training and implementation, aiming for minimal disruption to the production environment.”

Dr Tordoir paid particular attention to proving the benefits during the Anglo American rollout, mapping out the process and troubleshooting at the original sites so that replication was straightforward for subsequent sites.

Benchmarked data was made universally available, so teams could track their adoption trajectory curve.

“When an operation can see how others have overcome initial problems, uptake is faster,” Maptek says.

Maptek has found that other customers have a similar change management experience.

“Recent graduates may be initially more comfortable with new systems, but longer-term players soon recognise the benefits of digital processes and quickly absorb them into a new integrated workflow,” it says.

Anglo American found continuous improvement is much easier when multiple sites are sharing the same system.

“Operations can learn from each other and can see what good practice looks like,” Maptek says. “The key performance indicator data showed how some sites were performing better than others.”

Having a unified platform for design work enables consistent training and upscaling. This ensures that engineers are performing at the required level to deliver fit for purpose designs that promote safe and efficient operations.

“Improvement is a never-ending journey,” Dr Tordoir concluded.

Upcoming releases of BlastLogic will introduce a drilling data entry on the blast loading tablets for sites with contractor drill rigs, so all the drilling and charging data is captured for analysis, Maptek says.

“Automation of the blast design process is an exciting innovation by Maptek to advance analysis of the interaction of different factors as part of blast design,” it said. “Engineers can then better understand how they can trade off objectives to determine the value that can be gained by small incremental design changes.”

The future will also bring blast design deeper into the upstream planning process and broader cross-operation scenario design, according to the company.

Thiess extends relationship with MACH Energy Australia at Mount Pleasant

Thiess has been awarded a contract extension by MACH Energy Australia to continue providing mining services at the Mount Pleasant Operation in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia.

The contract extension, which will commence in April 2022, will generate revenue of approximately A$920 million ($678 million) to Thiess over four-and-a-half years.

Having commenced operations when Mount Pleasant was a greenfield coal mine in 2017, Thiess is to continue providing full-scope mining services including drill and blast, overburden removal, coal mining services and rehabilitation.

Thiess Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman, Michael Wright, said: “Since 2017, Thiess has provided expert planning and optimum mine sequencing to deliver exceptional outcomes for our client. This contract extension builds on our strong five-year relationship with MACH Energy at Mount Pleasant. We’re pleased to continue to drive long-term social, environmental and economic value for the Upper Hunter region.”

Thiess Executive General Manager Australia & Pacific, Shaun Newberry, said: “We’re proud to continue our work at Mount Pleasant where we have a proven track record of delivering industry-leading environmental practices. We also look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Muswellbrook community to ensure we deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.”

Thiess says it has a strong presence in the Hunter Valley where it provides mining services at three mines.

Minnovare and LiveMine open up to collaboration, integration

Minnovare and LiveMine have entered a collaboration that, they say, will enable their mine production clients to share data across the business’ software platforms.

The data integration will enable production drilling information logged via Minnovare’s CORE (Client Online Reporting Engine) to seamlessly sync with the LiveMine data management system.

The combination of both technologies streamlines the workflow for the drill rig operator, eliminates the potential errors and ensures accuracy at each stage in the clients drilling process, providing the confidence the client needs to make informed decisions on data they can trust, the companies said.

Chris Davidson – Underground Manager at Silverlake Resources, a customer of both companies – said: “We like to partner with businesses such as Minnovare and LiveMine who not only provide industry-leading technology but take into consideration our feedback and the specific needs of our operation. This collaboration will streamline our process and eliminate duplicate information, meaning our team can have confidence to make smarter, faster decisions on data we can trust.”

LiveMine is a data collection and management solution that integrates with existing operations to eliminate inaccurate reporting and wasted time. It eradicates hours of paperwork, unreliable spreadsheets, uncertainty in data accuracy and helps bring mining operations into the 21st century, the company says.

Coming in underground, open pit and exploration modules, LiveMine offers contractors and owner operators a way to collect and manage their operational data. Being able to use this online or offline means clients can collect crucial operational data directly at the source in real time.

Minnovare CORE is a software platform that serves as a data hub for clients’ entire drilling operations. The platform is central to Minnovare’s Production Optimiser, a drill and blast optimisation system that substantially improves production drilling accuracy and consistency, resulting in less re-work, improved dilution and recovery and an increase in stope turnover in underground mines.

“This secure cloud-based platform features digital drill plans and plods that sync seamlessly with existing mine planning software, providing accurate, reliable and real-time drilling data to mine operators,” Minnovare says. “Visibility and accountability are then ensured by displaying the recorded drilled information in the cloud.”

Live Mine Managing Director, Bud O’Shannessy, said: “This is an exciting collaboration in terms of the value and simplicity it brings to our client’s operations. Minnovare deliver an innovative solution and, when coupled with the LiveMine system, it centralises the drilling and operational data and generates a single data source and approval process. LiveMine share a large client base with Minnovare, and this collaboration is client driven. Our clients have been asking for it.”

Minnovare Managing Director, Callum McCracken, added: “We welcome the collaboration with a leading data management software company like LiveMine, as we see the strength of our joint offering for our clients in terms of immediate and downstream benefits in their operations.”

Rhino raiseborer set for work in Botswana, South Africa

Having been introduced to the southern African market only a year ago, two Rhino 100 ‘plug-and-drill’ raiseborers from Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions are already destined for local mining sites.

One unit will soon be at work in Botswana, while the second will be delivered to a large South Africa mine later this year, according to Saltiel Pule, Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions’ Business Line Manager for Underground Drilling in southern Africa.

“This machine has raised considerable interest in our market, and we fully expect to see five units at work in our region by the end of 2022,” Pule says.

The primary application of the Rhino 100 is for drilling of production slots, but it also makes a valuable contribution in a range of other applications – from ventilation raises and escape routes to ore passes and connections between tunnels, the company said.

“Using conventional drill and blast methods, these vertical or inclined holes can take mines three to six months to complete,” Pule says. “With the Rhino 100, we are talking about durations of less than a week.”

Drilled as relief holes in sub-level open stoping, slot raises provide the necessary void space for blasting, allowing the expansion of blasted rock into the void to improve fragmentation.

Dean Zharare, Sales Engineer for Underground Drilling at Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions, says the conventional blasting of slot raises often creates a bottleneck for mines.

“We have encountered situations where mine personnel have to return two or three times to a slot raise before it is ready, due to misfires, for instance,” Zharare said. “This creates a bottleneck in the mining process, reducing the monthly metres achieved.”

The mobility and drilling speed of the Rhino 100 can transform this scenario, he says, with an expectation that monthly metres drilled could improve by 65%. There is even the possibility that one of the units in South Africa will be operated remotely with the operator based on surface while it drills underground stopes.

Drilling holes of 750 mm in diameter, the Rhino 100 boasts penetration rates of about 2 m/h, more than double the rate of conventional methods, Sandvik claims. As important as the speed, Zharare says, is the reliability of the result.

“These larger holes make the blast much more reliable, avoiding any time consuming and dangerous redrilling in the event of a block ‘freezing’ after an unsuccessful blast,” he says.

Underpinning the machine’s mobility is its ability to carry its own components, including rods, cables, hydraulics and the raiseboring head. It is pulled by a specially adapted double-axle John Deere tractor. To optimise the set-up time – which can take as little as 10 minutes – it has outriggers for stability rather than needing a concrete pad to be poured. No roof bolting is required either, as an inclinometer gives the operator the necessary coordinates for a surveyor to confirm before drilling operations begin.

Since the Rhino 100 was launched 2017, it has achieved a strong global footprint, with over 20 units operating worldwide. Australia has seen particularly strong take-up, with one contractor already ordering four machines. Underground expansions at almost a dozen operations around southern Africa present exciting opportunities for the future of the Rhino 100 in this region, Zharare says.

The Rhino is manufactured by TRB-Raise Borers in Finland but is equipped with Sandvik tools and is distributed by Sandvik.

Newmont’s Canada mines hit wireless initiation milestone with Oricas WebGen

Newmont has continued to leverage the benefits of fully wireless initiation in its blasting process, having initiated its 500th blast using Orica’s WebGen™ system at its Canada mines.

The milestone was achieved at three of its underground mines in Canada, which are blasting with WebGen. Each site uses different mining methods, and all have achieved improved performance and safety in their overall mining processes with the implementation of innovative WebGen-enabled mining techniques, Orica says.

“The key to Newmont’s success was its ability to think differently and to take advantage of pre-charging with ‘no strings attached’,” the company added. “Eliminating the physical connections to each blasthole and the need for re-entry allowed the blasting sequence to be arranged for optimised outcomes.”

The blasting process changes help mines deliver significantly improved ore recovery and has simultaneously reduced interactions, cycle times and rework, according to Orica. WebGen wireless blasting technology is an innovation that enables process change unlike any other, by pre-charging blasts and firing blasts after access to the area is lost, it claimed.

Newmont’s WebGen journey started at the Musselwhite mine in late 2016 following Orica’s launch of the first-generation wireless initiation system, WebGen 100. The Orica technical team identified an opportunity to use the new technology and approached the Musselwhite team with a new concept, the “Temporary Rib Pillar (TRP) Avoca Mining” method.

Over the following months, workshops, detailed design reviews, risk assessments, crew meetings and signal surveys were completed and the first TRP stope was designed and ready to be blasted.

The initial stope was drilled and loaded in November and December 2016 and fired in January 2017.

Over the next year, the Musselwhite and Orica teams continued to use and refine the TRP method.

“As confidence in WebGen 100 increased, the teams explored other opportunities where wireless blast initiation could significantly improve safety and stope performance,” Orica said. “Several other wireless enabled mining methods were developed and evaluated through these collaborative efforts throughout 2017 and 2018.”

The results so far from the WebGen collaboration include a 20% reduction in mucking time, 14% improvement in production tonnes per day and 34% reduction in ore dilution.

Following the success of Musselwhite gold mine, the team from Éléonore Mine approached Orica in late 2018 to explore the possibilities of implementing the WebGen system on-site. The team conducted a two-day face-to-face workshop where the technical and operations teams from Éléonore and Orica met and conducted an in-depth review of Éléonore’s production mining operations.

The workshop ended with a commitment to complete a joint wireless blasting optimisation project, Orica said.

“A project charter was developed, which involved a detailed 10-stope evaluation across various geometries with the primary goal to improving stope recovery,” the company explained.

“Preparation started in early 2019 with detailed design sessions, signal surveys, risk assessments and crew information sessions.”

The first stope blast was loaded in February 2019 and fired in March. The project’s scope was completed by late summer and the project delivered and exceeded all the agreed performance metrics, according to Orica.

Sill pillars at Éléonore represent a challenge for both ground control and drill and blast teams.

“WebGen technology allowed us to safely and efficiently recover side-drilled stopes by greatly reducing worker exposure and stope cycle time,” Ugo Marceau, Drill & Blast Engineer at Newmont Éléonore, said.

Results from the WebGen introduction at Éléonore include an 86% increase in ore recovery, 72% reduction in stope time and 71% increase in drilling rates.

While the Éléonore project was underway, teams from Borden and Orica had already “white boarded” various wireless enhanced stoping scenarios to increase mining efficiency in Borden’s complex geometry.

“The main goals were eliminating as much lateral development and cemented rock fill as possible while maximising ore recovery,” Orica explained. “As with both Musselwhite and Éléonore, signal surveys, risk assessments and crew information sessions were completed to prepare the first stope.”

Borden’s first stope was loaded in early April and fired later that month. Once again, the outcomes from using WebGen exceeded those expected from a conventional approach, according to Orica.

Eric Fournier, Mine Engineering Supervisor at Newmont Borden, said: “Orica have been partners with us from the very beginning. The WebGen team is very professional, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. The technology is great but the people behind it make it happen. WebGen technology allows us to be a safer and a more efficient mine. It removes the need to send people around hazardous conditions that exist after a blast.”

Results from the Borden implementation include 98% actual ore recovery and 17% actual dilution.

Orica concluded: “Wireless-enhanced production mining has been expanded across these three Newmont mines. The WebGen system has proven itself as a reliable initiation system and enables drill and blast engineers to modify existing mining methods for substantial improvements in safety, productivity and cost reduction. This has been an exceptional journey together with Newmont and highlights the results that can be achieved through innovation and collaboration.”

CSI to carry out load and haul, drill and blast work at Rio’s Brockman 2 iron ore mine

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services has been awarded a mining contract by Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 2 iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The scope of the contract will see CSI conduct load and haul, drill and blast, and short-term mine planning activities for Rio, the company said.

This will involve scheduling, drilling and blasting and then excavating 27 Mt of waste rock and iron ore over an approximate nine-month period, with a fleet of large-scale mining equipment, developing the Lens A/B pit for Rio.

This contract builds on a 16-year relationship with Rio, dating back to when CSI first commenced crushing services at the Nammuldi mine site. It also follows the completion of a 30 Mt load and haul contract at Rio’s Tom Price mine. CSI remains engaged at another Rio Tinto operation, Paraburdoo, where its team is carrying out 13 Mt of load and haul operations.

The Brockman 2 contract will generate around 150 jobs for CSI’s highly skilled workforce, the company said.

Mineral Resources’ Chief Executive Mining Services, Mike Grey, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by Rio Tinto to assist at another of its world-class iron ore mines. Our relationship with Rio Tinto dates back 16 years. Since then, we have been able to establish a track record of consistent project delivery for Rio Tinto, which we are very proud of.

“CSI is the world’s largest crushing contractor, so it is immensely satisfying that this latest Rio Tinto contract includes other mining activities, such as load and haul and drill and blast, to demonstrate CSI’s diverse skills set. We are confident this Brockman 2 scope of work will become the latest chapter of our ongoing association with Rio Tinto.”

Brockman 2 is one of the 16 mines that make up Rio’s world-class Pilbara iron ore operations.

The CSI team has begun mobilising to site, including delivering a new fleet of Komatsu 830E electric-drive dump trucks and a new Komatsu PC4000-11 excavator.

Barrick Hemlo boosts productivity with Orica wireless blast initiation solution

Orica says testing of its WebGen™ 100 solution at Barrick Gold’s Hemlo mine in Ontario, Canada, has shown wireless blast initiation can improve the economics of its Alimak stoping.

In early 2019, Hemlo’s management team approached Orica and Manroc to explore opportunities for improvement via the application of wireless blast initiation. Through a series of workshops, Orica and Barrick Hemlo worked together to identify opportunities to use WebGen 100 wireless through the earth initiation technology in its Blind Alimak Mining application.

This Blind Alimak Retreat (BAR) concept was aimed at improving both safety and productivity, and included:

  • Reduced exposure time related to Alimak entries;
  • Improved ore recovery from 70% to over 90%;
  • Increased recovery by maximising blast design, sequence, and available void;
  • Increased mucking rates while decreasing cycle time; and
  • Optimised crew logistics by using single pass loading.

To expand operations and aid in the longevity of mine life, both efficiency and recovery were top priorities for the Hemlo team, Orica said.

Alimak Mining is normally done either in small repetitive blasts cycles, from the bottom of the raise up to an upper sill, or, in the case of blind Alimaks, as a mass blast into the void that exists in the raise and undercut below.

Given that access is lost after the mass blast, the size of the blast (Alimak height) and recovery is often restricted by “free face” and available void. At Hemlo, the Blind Alimak blast performance was limited by underbreak in the top third of the Alimak (footwall break) due to the available void becoming choked off during blast progression. Using wireless blasting technology, the team was able to eliminate all void limitation, Orica said.

The solution was to develop a blast design with optimised burden and spacing as well as timing and blast sequencing, allowing well-defined portions of the Alimak stope to be taken at the appropriate time. Single-pass loading was used to achieve the safety and productivity benefits.

Breaking the Alimak stope into five pre-loaded portions (each increasing in size to capitalise on void created during the excavation process) allowed for flexible blast management throughout the mining process, Orica said.

“With the ability to merge and increase blast sizes based on in-field results, the operation had unprecedented control and was able to operate outside of the traditional constraints of mining cycles,” it added.

With three days of continuous loading, Hemlo was able to achieve a month-and-a-half worth of blasting while freeing up the Alimak crews to move on to the next stope, according to Orica. To maximise the blasting sequence, the first blast (wall slash and five rings) was blasted with Orica’s i-kon™ III Electronic Blasting System. The next three blasts (two merged) were fired with WebGen 100 units when ready, with performance verified with bucket counts and CMS.

The results of the project stope were extremely positive and proved that wireless blast initiation can improve the economics of the Alimak stoping, according to Orica. Key benefits included significantly reduced personal exposure (reduced by over 50%), increased stope recovery and cycle time. The success of the Alimak has also led to the introduction of wireless blasting into large blind up-hole patterns at Barrick Hemlo, solving similar issues to that of the Alimaks, Orica said.

The outcomes of this project delivered a 40% improvement in productivity through decreased cycle time, faster mucking rates, improved ore recovery from 70% to over 90%, and increased safety by eliminating countless re-entries and hookups, while stripping rail and logistically simplifying the operations process.

Recovery improvement and productivity gains delivered significant value and increased revenue for the customer, Orica added.

“The project has also shown the ability to increase the height of blind Alimak stopes without concern for available void, thereby eliminating the need of top sill development moving forward,” it said.

This successful trial has led to full-time technical collaboration with Barrick Hemlo mine since the end of 2019. Including this evaluation at Hemlo, Orica has successfully fired more than 50 wireless initiating system blasts loaded with over 2,700 WebGen 100 units.

SRG Global to help Red 5 blast off at Great Western gold mine

SRG Global has been awarded a term contract with Pit N Portal Mining Services to provide specialist production drill and blast services and explosives supply at Red 5 Ltd’s Great Western gold mine in Western Australia.

The term contract is expected to start immediately for an initial 12-month term.

Pit N Portal, a division of Emeco, was awarded the contract mining gig at Great Western back in October.

A satellite deposit located around 55 km from Red 5’s Darlot gold mine and processing facility, Great Western comes with a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 870,000 t grading 2.5 g/t Au for 70,300 oz of contained gold. The maiden proven and probable reserve totalled 437,500 t at 2.5g/t Au for 35,424 oz of contained gold.

Based on a proposed mining rate of between 30,000-40,000 t/mth of ore, the open pit is expected to be completed over a period of around 13 months, with plans to then access the underground orebody via a portal at the base of the pit, Red 5 said at the time.

In addition to the work on Great Western, SRG Global was also awarded a new three-year contract (with option for a further two years) with GFG Liberty OneSteel to provide engineered access solutions at the Liberty Steelworks site in Whyalla, South Australia.

David Macgeorge, Managing Director of SRG Global, said: “We are very pleased to have secured these two term contracts, adding to our recurring annuity earnings.

“The Pit N Portal contract was specifically targeted as it builds upon our mining services portfolio of high-quality growth commodities whilst diversifying SRG Global’s customer base.”

Thiess cuts probe drilling costs by leveraging advanced void management system

Thiess says its mine planning team is pioneering the development and use of an advanced void management system that is informing probing, drill pattern and blasting design.

The holistic system gives the contractor’s office and field-based teams immediate access to a central database of void information to support better, faster decision making and task optimisation.

Thiess General Manager WA/SA (Acting), Matt Henderson, said the system focuses on capturing, monitoring and understanding existing voids to help the project team manage and backfill where required.

“It gives us and our client a clear understanding of the geological and geotechnical risks associated with the project and how to best address them,” Henderson said. “This flows from mine design into operations, enabling our project team to manage and mitigate risk to our people and delivery.”

Thiess Mine Planning Manager, Ravi Achari, said the system, designed to enable verticle mining through extensive networks of underground voids (drives, development workings, workings, vertical rises and large slopes), was developed to improve safety and provide greater certainty in the company’s delivery.

“The system was developed using insights and learnings from a number of technologies currently available on the market, but without integration were unable to provide the required outcome,” Achari said. “We also leveraged insight from our void officers and surveyors, and drill and blast, geotechnical and mine planning engineers.”

Achari confirmed the new system enables his team to determine the right solution specific to each void.

“The system uses historical plans, probing and drilling data to survey the position and size of the old workings,” he said. “This includes checking the location and attributes of the voids we find against the recorded data to verify any changes in size or shape.

“Our findings will then inform our safety zone and backfilling requirements.”

Incorporating over five-years of proven void management processes and procedures, the system delivers client benefits by enabling Thiess’ team to mine additional tonnes.

“The system gives a precise delineation of the voids informing a more tailored drill and blast design that allows additional recovery of the commodity,” Achari said. “It has also enabled a reduction of probe drilling costs by up to 25%, representing a substantial cost saving.”

To date the system has helped manage and treat over 25 km of underground voids and stopes in Western Australia, and is currently being leveraged to develop an integrated drill and blast reporting system for Thiess globally.