Tag Archives: Drill and blast

IMDEX focuses on drilling fluids, AMC BORE HOLE STABILISER release to boost productivity

IMDEX is talking up the use of drilling fluids as part of its holistic focus on improving drilling performance when out in the field.

The company’s drilling optimisation solutions combine best-in-class technologies, sensors, and motors to deliver improved performances, but, for IMDEX Drilling Optimisation General Manager, Charles Macfadyen, drilling fluids are at the start of the value chain, maximising the data delivered from the company’s technology and tools.

“Costs are always increasing, so the emphasis is on precision drilling: drilling smart metres and drilling efficiently,” Macfadyen said.

“It all relies on fluids to be able to do that. Fluids are an essential part of the drilling process with the potential to unlock hidden productivity when used effectively.”

He says while the oil and gas industry has long understood the importance of fluids and the skills of mud engineers, the understanding within the mineral exploration community has not been as widespread.

“There is a big difference in the cost of exploration drilling between oil and gas, and mineral exploration, but the science and logic will come to mining; the understanding that it’s far more than just a fluid, there’s an understanding of what equates to precision and enhanced performance that makes it special.”

Additional costs caused by higher operational standards, environmental restrictions and increased hole depths will continue – and could be the catalyst for a greater understanding of the part played by fluids, according to IMDEX.

IMDEX has around 100 drilling fluid products to cater for specific regional and global requirements, with the most recent addition being AMC BORE HOLE STABILISER™ (BHS).

BHS is a multifunctional product formulated specifically for air drilling applications, particularly drill and blast applications.

It helps prevent a wide range of down-hole problems including poor collaring, hole decay or sidewall instability, provides a degree of lubrication to the hole and will improve the lifting capacity of the air stream for cuttings transportation, according to the company.

Use of BHS in an underground mine in Western Australia resulted in an increase of up to 40% more metres drilled per day, reduced drilling consumables by up to 50%, improved load times and explosives use for explosive crews, and reduced HSE risks through less manual handling to mobilise and install casing, IMDEX says.

“For drill and blast, the side wall imperative is for both function and efficiency,” Macfadyen said. “BHS delivers improved productivity while using less explosives and less redrills.

“IMDEX drilling fluids are much more than a fluid – you actually get the knowledge that comes not just from making premium fluids and understanding that over more than 30 years, but also the knowledge that comes from our understanding of the drilling market, and of rock knowledge.

“Others don’t have that rock knowledge. It’s the tangible knowledge that at any given moment in time you know what you’re drilling through, the geological understanding, the resource definition, the granular knowledge behind how to optimise your fluids program to cater for that.

“Whether it’s orientation, mineralogy or any geological understanding it’s the essential knowledge that you need to develop a fluid or optimise a drilling program.

“It puts us in a leading position. Unlike others, IMDEX is able to leverage intimate rock knowledge, lab capabilities and global mud engineers to unlock the potential of any drilling program.”

IMDEX’s presence in 70% of major mining operations globally has allowed the company to foster this knowledge, according to Macfayden.

Thiess to deliver mining services to Mount Holland lithium mine JV

Thiess says it has been awarded a four-year contract by Covalent Lithium to deliver mining services at the Mount Holland lithium mine in Western Australia.

Covalent Lithium is a joint venture between Wesfarmers and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), one of the world’s largest lithium miners.

Under the contract, Thiess will deliver drill and blast services, mining of overburden and ore, and equipment maintenance with a strong focus on community development and environmental protection, it said. Thiess commenced mobilisation and early mining operations in January.

Thiess Executive Chairman and CEO, Michael Wright, said: “We are very pleased to be selected by Covalent to undertake mining at the Mount Holland mine. This award recognises our team’s ability to deliver sustainable mining solutions and deliver enduring value for our clients across diverse commodities.

“We look forward to working with Covalent Lithium to safely position their operations for optimal efficiency, productivity and cost performance, and contribute strongly to a clean energy future.”

The Mount Holland Mine produces lithium-bearing ore that is concentrated and refined to produce lithium hydroxide, a mineral used to enable electric vehicles and battery-based energy storage systems. EPC contractor, Primero, is currently constructing the Mt Holland concentrator to process ‘run of mine’ ore at a rate of circa-2 Mt/y and produce an output of circa-400,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate to feed the company’s integrated lithium hydroxide conversion refinery situated in Kwinana.

Metarock Group transformation takes shape with new coal contracts

Australia-listed Metarock Group has banked two contract wins this week, one at the Cook Colliery in Queensland and one at the Maxwell underground coal project in New South Wales.

The former has seen its Mastermyne subsidiary become the contract operator at Cook for Constellation Mining, a subsidiary of QCoal Group. The contract term of four years comes with a further two-year option and the company will see work commence immediately under the Mining Services Agreement.

The Cook Colliery was purchased by QCoal in July 2020 and has been maintained under care and maintenance since the acquisition. In July 2021, Mastermyne was selected to carry out a package of work to prepare the mine to re-commence production. This work included recommissioning of existing underground infrastructure, overhauling of mining equipment, establishment of production panels and other associated administrative and procurement works. This first tranche of work has been completed and the mine is now ready to commence production.

Mobilisation underground is already well progressed with the first Joy (Komatsu) miner underground and cutting coal as it forms up the production panels that will see the next Joy machines start production mining using a low-risk place changing methodology, Metarock said.

The project will produce approximately 4 Mt of run of mine coal over four years across three production panels.

At Maxwell underground, Metarock’s PYBAR Mining Services has been named the preferred contractor for the Maxwell Underground Project Access Drifts as part of an executed letter of intent with Malabar Resources. The contract term of 12 months will commence later this year following the execution of a binding Alliance-style mining services pact.

The scope consists of twin parallel drifts around 1.3 km in length, which will provide access to the targeted coal seams. Excavation of the drifts will be carried out with metalliferous-style drill and blast equipment and methods, modified for operating within a coal mining lease.

Having only recently completed the acquisition of PYBAR and the renaming of Mastermyne to Metarock, MD Tony Caruso said: “Mastermyne’s transformation from an underground coal contractor to a diversified mining services provider is taking shape and the awarding of this project (Maxwell) is a major vote of confidence from customers in the new larger business.”

He added: “This project is quite unique in that it brings together the combination of the Mastermyne and PYBAR skill-sets, which is a real differentiator for the Metarock Group.”

3GSM tackles drill comms, pattern analysis in latest BlastMetriX UAV blasting software update

3GSM GmbH, a developer of software to optimise blasting and reduce inherent environmental issues, has announced several updates to its flagship BlastMetriX UAV software that, the company says, improves communication with smart drills, offers face profiling enhancements and delivers more sophisticated drill pattern analysis.

Robert McClure, President of Robert A McClure (RAM) Inc of Powell, Ohio, an international blast and engineering consulting firm that provides service, support and training for BlastMetriX UAV, said: “3GSM works closely with its blasting customers to adapt to new challenges faced in the field and improve blast optimisation. Customers with an active update licence automatically receive these new features inside the BlastMetriX software, or they can be ordered separately.”

The enhanced drill pattern analysis tool provides heat mapping of drilled borehole deviations for simple visualisation of differences between “as planned” and “as drilled” patterns, while semi-automatic mapping of linear rock mass features is imported into the blast plan. By providing enhanced burden and spacing information, the software allows users to adjust explosive amounts in each borehole to account for irregularities, according to the company. “This is a great tool for a company’s key performance indicator program,” McClure said. “The software captures information from each blast and allows users to go back and review historical data to correct issues in the field.”

Updates to the IREDES (International Rock Excavation Data Exchange Standard) interface improves two-way data communication between BlastMetriX UAV and smart drills. It now allows for import of measure for drilling data like drill penetration rate and air pressure to map the subsurface geology of the borehole. At a quick glance, the software shows the geology and burdens from borehole top to bottom out to the free face. The program is compatible with all major drilling equipment manufacturers, according to the company.

Incorporating the ShapeMetriX system for generating and assessing 3D images, new geological mapping integration allows users to better visualise dips, strikes, seams and voids throughout the drilling pattern. The software can characterise irregularities in the face, which are projected back through the borehole. This allows for more precise loading of the borehole and improves blast safety.

In another update, the underground volumetric measurements tool inside ShapeMetriX now provides the determination of precise volumes in a “generalised” manner, based off captured subsequent tunnel faces and perimeters.

With the aid of aerial targets or standard BlastMetriX targets as reference points, the software imports images from a calibrated DSLR camera or unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly, safely and accurately capture 3D face profiles for enhanced visualisation of the blast area. Multiple data-rich overlapping images generate hundreds of thousands of data points for accurately characterising typography of the surveyed area and creating a 3D face profile.

BlastMetriX UAV gives technicians the confidence the blast will perform as designed to mitigate fly-rock issues, high air overpressures, excessive vibration, poor fragmentation, sub-par cast, loss of grade control and wall damage, the company says.

“Through blast design optimisation using BlastMetriX UAV, operations can realise significant benefits including improved fragmentation, higher crusher throughput and lower drilling man power requirements,” 3GSM said. “The scalable BlastMetriX UAV software allows companies to integrate as much or as little technology as required.”

NRW cements Karara Mining services contract

NRW has followed up on a letter of intent with Karara Mining Limited for mining services works at the Karara Iron Ore mine in Western Australia, sealing a formal contract with the company.

The contract value is circa A$702 million ($502 million) over a five-year duration, with the project workforce averaging an estimated 250 personnel.

Located 200 km southeast of Geraldton in the Shire of Perenjori, Karara is the largest mining operation and the first major magnetite mine in the Mid West. It produces a premium, high-grade concentrate product for export to steelmakers.

With an expected mine life of 30-plus years, Karara’s operation includes a large open-pit mine, complex ore processing and beneficiation plant and significant infrastructure and logistics networks.

The works to be performed include load and haul, drill and blast and run of mine re-handling with the drill and blast component to be undertaken by NRW’s wholly owned subsidiary, Action Drill & Blast Pty Ltd.

In addition, the work includes train loading and rehandling of the product stockpiles together with miscellaneous dayworks at the mine site, camp and access roads.

Key mining equipment required for the project including three 600 t excavators and a fleet of 220 t trucks is being progressively mobilised to site for commissioning, with works commencing in March 2022.

NRW Chief Executive Officer, Jules Pemberton, said: “I am delighted that NRW has now been formally awarded the contract and I look forward to a long and successful partnership with Karara Mining.”

Karara Chief Executive Officer, Changjiang Zhu, said: “NRW is an established Western Australia-based mining and civil contractor with extensive open-cut mining experience gained through a number of successful mining operations in the state. Offering new prime equipment, NRW has the capability to undertake the entire Karara scope of work comprising a broad range of mining, construction and engineering services. We look forward to commencement of mining services early next year.”

MACA to carry out open-pit mining services at Roy Hill iron ore operation

MACA Ltd says it has been awarded a mining services contract with Roy Hill Iron Ore Pty Ltd at the Roy Hill iron ore operation in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The project consists of open-pit mining services, including load and haul and drill and blast, and is expected to generate approximately A$70 million ($50 million) in revenue for MACA over the 12-month term, commencing in early 2022, it said.

MACA says its work in hand position including this contract is currently A$3 billion.

The Roy Hill project is owned by Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd, Marubeni Corporation, POSCO and China Steel Corporation, and is 115 km north of Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said: “MACA is very pleased to be able to continue working with Roy Hill at its world-class iron ore operation, having commenced civil works at the project earlier this year. Our team has a long-standing relationship with Roy Hill, starting with first mining at the Roy Hill project, and MACA is proud to be an ongoing part of this operation.

“This project will be undertaken utilising existing fleet, contributes to MACA’s secured mining work in hand for financial year 2022 and financial year 2023 and further secures our strong position in the Pilbara region.”

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.”