Tag Archives: explosives and blasting

Orica to take CRC ORE’s IES cloud-based simulation technology global

Orica has been selected as the commercialisation partner for the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction’s (CRC ORE) Integrated Extraction Simulator, a cloud-based software platform designed to reduce the use of energy and water in mining through the application of simulation, optimisation and machine learning.

The award followed a competitive selection process, with the global mining explosives and services giant set to take the reins of the platform’s growth strategy from July 2021, with plans for global expansion of the technology.

Orica’s interest was initially driven by IES’s introduction of blast simulation into the mineral processing value chain, CRC ORE said. While mine operators can use controlled blasting techniques as an effective augmentation of the rock breakage process, Orica also saw the wider application of IES as an obvious fit with its expanding digital solutions offer across the whole mining value chain.

“By harnessing the virtually limitless scalability available through cloud computing services, mining companies can now use IES to configure multiple design options for a mineral processing plant,” CRC ORE said. “IES then tasks each design and simulates its performance for every day of operation over the life of a mine. This high-resolution simulation of each design leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of optimal mineral processing.”

Orica intends to expand this capability into a global solution for mining companies, enabling them to design their mineral processing using IES, and then leverage IES’s capability every day to drive continual operational improvements.

CRC ORE Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ben Adair, said having a company the calibre of Orica as commercialisation partner is testament to the enormous opportunity and benefits that the simulator provides to the mining industry.

“We have worked with our Participants over many years to refine our simulation platform,” Dr Adair said. “As a foundation Participant in CRC ORE, Orica shares our commitment to optimising resource extraction and our passion for the continued development of the simulator.

“The scale offered by Orica’s global reach, in addition to its sustained investment in research and development and unwavering focus on innovation, makes it the ideal custodian of IES.”

Orica has been evolving towards its vision of an integrated ore extraction mining services company, with this vision including investing in digital solutions where continuous innovation and open integration with other industry systems across the mining value chain are key to the delivery of whole of mine optimisation for customers, CRC ORE said.

Orica Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said Orica is primed to take the simulator global and continually evolve the technology to meet the ever changing needs of the industry.

“This is a great example of industry collaboration developing solutions to industry level problems, and we are extremely proud to be part of it,” he said. “It is a fantastic opportunity to continue Orica’s 11-year relationship with CRC ORE and further expand our digital solutions offering by combining our blasting domain expertise with this leading simulation technology to customers and beyond worldwide.”

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “From a technology perspective, we see enormous synergies with our existing blasting and measurement solutions, including BlastIQ, FRAGTrack and ORETrack. We are also excited to integrate our automated, data science enabled blast design technology and solutions with IES, offering end-to-end digitised workflow solutions from orebody knowledge through to mineral processing in an open, secure, and connected platform.”

CRC ORE’s team of developers and consultant engineers will integrate into Orica from July 2021 and will continue to be led by CRC ORE’s current General Manager for the simulator, Nick Beaton.

Beaton said: “IES is now at the right point in its development to become commercially sustainable while continuing to develop new capabilities. It will be thrilling to continue this with Orica.

“We have demonstrated that the simulator can improve the value of major mine sites by some 5-6; this is significant for the mines using the simulator and for the whole industry.

“Optimisation of processing operations by use of IES will also enable step-change reductions in power and water consumption, while greatly improving recoveries of marginal ores, all contributing to the future sustainability of mining operations.”

The transition of the IES business to Orica will take place in the middle of 2021 when CRC ORE’s term comes to an end. In the meantime, CRC ORE and Orica, together with industry partners, will continue developing innovations to drive continual improvements throughout the mining industry. Continuing this innovation, Orica looks forward to IES participation in the next iteration of the Amira P9 project.

Orica on the right Track with new digital blasting solutions

Orica’s suite of rock movement, blast fragmentation and digital blast optimisation solutions have been gaining traction of late, with miners across the globe employing or trialling the products as they look to improve mine site performance.

Ahead of the annual Explosives and Blasting feature (to be published in the International Mining July/August 2020 issue), IM spoke with Rajkumar Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions at Orica, to get an update on progress with the company’s digital solutions.

Back in Orica’s 2019 full-year results, Orica mentioned it had secured its first customers in Latin America for its ORETrack™ solution, which provides RFID-based tracking of rock movement from blasting operations.

Mathiravedu said these first adopters were recognising the value delivered by the technology, with ORETrack working well in the initial applications.

“We are also continuing to co-develop and expand our ORETrack technology in collaboration with customers in Latin America, with additional customers adopting the ore tracking capability,” he said.

“Further trials are also planned for the near future, including locations in Australia and North America.”

The number of customers taking up Orica’s FRAGTrack™ solution, which provides blast fragmentation data with auto-analysis capability, meanwhile, has been growing in the face of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Orica carried out its first fully remote installation of FRAGTrack during lockdown in Australia, with a second in Finland and a third one completed in North America recently.

Mathiravedu said a key focus in developing the solution, which captures real-time fragmentation measurement data for downstream unit productivity improvement and tracking of operational performance, was ensuring it was “a plug and play solution” that could be installed and supported remotely.

“We developed rigorous training material and installation instructions and married these with real-time augmented reality capability to remotely guide and support our customers through the implementation,” he said.

“We have found this particularly advantageous during the COVID-19 restrictions, but also this allows our customers to manage the implementation timing to suit their operations.”

An example of this could be the desire for a customer to install FRAGTrack when the shovels are down for maintenance, without having to wait for an Orica specialist to come to the site and install the system.

Reflecting on the recent remote installation achievements, Mathiravedu said: “This proves we have a successful remote release model that customers are valuing during these unprecedented times.”

BlastIQ workflow integration

Fifteen months after the release of its next generation BlastIQ, Orica has now surpassed the 60-site implementation mark of its digital blast optimisation platform.

Mathiravedu said BlastIQ and the company’s ever-growing digital capabilities are designed to improve blast outcomes by integrating insights from digitally connected technologies at every stage of the drill and blast process to drive continuous improvements for its customers.

“Focusing on the needs of our surface mining customers, we have been able to deliver the benefits of cloud-based technology, providing convenience and flexibility for customers to access their blasting data online anywhere, anytime from any device,” he said.

“Customers are also benefitting significantly from digitising their blasting workflows, delivering efficiencies and improved quality control across their blasting operations, resulting in greater visibility of blast inputs and outputs in real time while benefiting from better blast outcomes.”

As an open, secure, and connected digital platform, BlastIQ’s blast-related data is being integrated directly into customers’ mining value chain and remote operation centres via secure cloud-based APIs, Mathiravedu said.

“This is enabling customers to drive better mine-level decisions based on data integrations between our platform and theirs, creating a stronger bond between planning, drilling, blasting, load and haul and processing operations at the site,” he said.

BlastIQ is an inter-operable platform and is being delivered as a Software as a Service product to customers, meaning they receive new functionality, value and features as soon as they are developed, according to Mathiravedu.

“Enhancements are scheduled and developed based on direct feedback and submissions from our customers all around the world to ensure the product evolves to meet the discrete needs of their operations,” he said.

Outside of BlastIQ specifically, Orica has started to deliver digital optimisation services to its customers, according to Mathiravedu.

“State-of-the-art” digital products and advanced data science and analytics, combined with blasting technical know-how and market-leading blasting technologies, enables customers to cover whole of value chain solutions, enabled by blasting, Mathiravedu said.

“Also, using a series of industry 4.0 smart Internet of Things sensors and Edge computing to replace inefficient manual processes, measurement data can be used in real time to improve future mining outcomes based on data science, analytics and machine-learning algorithms to drive continuous improvement of the entire mining value chain.”

Enaex and Sasol start up Southern Africa explosives joint venture

Integrated chemicals and energy company Sasol and Enaex, a subsidiary of the Sigdo Koppers Group, have announced the start of operations in Southern Africa.

The new explosives joint venture, Enaex Africa, started operating today on July 1, 2020.

In 2017, Sasol commenced with an asset review to ensure all assets in its global portfolio delivered against financial metrics and were aligned with the company’s growth strategy, the company said.

“In line with this review, Sasol’s explosives business was identified as having substantial growth potential that could be unlocked through collaboration opportunities, including the possibility of partnering with a world-class explosives brand,” Sasol said.

In June 2019, after the evaluation process, Enaex SA was selected as Sasol’s preferred strategic partner to create an explosives business on the African continent.

The new company will operate under the name of Enaex Africa. Enaex will be the majority shareholder and will take over management and operational control of the entity from July 1. Enaex, in association with Sasol, will comprise certain assets and associated activities spun off from the current explosives and rock fragmentation value chain of the base chemicals business of Sasol South Africa. This joint venture includes the associated business activities in both South Africa and other countries in Southern Africa.

Sasol President and CEO, Fleetwood Grobler, said: “We are delighted to announce that on July 1, 2020, Enaex Africa in association with Sasol, will officially start operating in South Africa and on the African Continent. Enaex is a Chilean company celebrating 100 years of history and leadership in the explosives business in South America and together with Sasol will be a force to be reckoned with in the mining industry.”

Founded in 1920 in Chile, Enaex’s core business is ammonium nitrate production – Enaex is the third-largest industrial grade ammonium nitrate producer in the world – explosives production and blasting services, according to Sasol.

“Enaex is also one of the few explosives companies in the world that can produce and offer the entire spectrum of products and solutions to execute the blasting process,” Sasol said. “The company has subsidiaries in 11 countries, including Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, France, the US, Mexico and Australia, and exports to more than 40 countries all over the world.”

Enaex, provides blasting services to some of the major mining companies in the world, such as Anglo American, BHP, Codelco, KGHM, Glencore, Vale, Yamana Gold and Teck Resources.

This deal is part of the strategic plan of Enaex to continue strengthening its international presence in the most important mining regions of the world, according to Sasol.

Francisco Baudrand, CEO of Enaex Africa, said: “This is truly an incredible day for Enaex with a new venture on a new continent. This joint venture is a platform of growth for Enaex not only in Southern Africa, but also for us to become the leaders in explosives and blasting services for the mining industry on the African continent.”

Meaningful participation for BBBEE has also been catered for in the shareholding structure in line with South Africa’s transformation agenda, which is fully supported by both Sasol and Enaex.

Librestream sets sights on augmented reality growth with latest financing

Librestream is looking to expand the reach of its augmented worker enterprise solutions thanks to the raising of another C$24 million ($17.7 million) from new and existing investors.

This Series D raise brings total financing to over C$55 million, the company said.

The financing will be used to accelerate customer acquisition and growth in expanded geographic and vertical markets, Librestream said.

“As a core part of this growth, the company will invest in sales and marketing expansion and the advancement of its Onsight augmented worker platform,” it added.

Librestream’s Onsight augmented reality enterprise platform has been built to perform in rugged environment including areas with extremely low bandwidth. Backed by central management, Onsight offers valuable insights through robust data analytics and dashboards, the company says.

Onsight Connect remote expert software delivers a fully collaborative environment to rapidly troubleshoot, inspect, and resolve issues in the field, according to the company, leveraging advanced AI and IoT visualisation capabilities to create intelligent data that enhances decision making and informs machine-learning models.

The Connect software powers a full range of mobile devices including smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart glasses. When integrated with advanced computer vision (CV) artificial intelligence, Onsight CV recognises the content of digital images and extracts text, objects, and any other identifying markers using Object Character Recognition (OCR) and object classification and detection.

The platform includes IoT visualisation capabilities to inform decisions by displaying aggregated IoT data from relevant sensors onscreen. Using IoT visualisation, workers can access this information through OCR and view the data in graphs, charts or tables.

“Deployed globally, Onsight scales with your operation,” the company said. “Controlled and secured by a robust back-end management solution and infrastructure, Connect meets the needs of the most stringent IT and security environments.”

One of the companies to use Onsight technology is Australia-based Orica, a provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems, sodium cyanide for gold extraction, and ground support services.

The company, Librestream says, has been using the augmented worker enterprise solution to assist with the deployment of new, complex equipment in remote areas like mountainous regions of Latin America, the deserts of Australia and the plains of South Africa.

“This equipment is extremely specialised and requires workers to follow explicit instructions to capture data around the machinery,” Librestream says of Orica’s offering.

Much of the use of Onsight revolves around worker safety as Orica deals in explosives for mining applications, Librestream said. “However, it has also brought about increased efficiency as well.”

Orica is also looking closely at leveraging Onsight for asset identification and remote assistance in its flagship blasting products, according to the company.

Librestream says it experienced tremendous growth over the past 36 months as the needs of the remote workforce and immersive technologies became top priorities for digital transformation. This saw the size of customer deployments grow by more than 250%.

John Bishop, President & CEO at Librestream, said: “Digital transformation initiatives traditionally focused on digitising systems and assets, often leaving people out of the equation.

“Librestream’s focus on providing workers with a digital connection to information enables safe, effective performance – whether on an oil rig, a manufacturing floor, or in an aircraft hangar.”

MAXAM sets out to improve cartridge explosives offering

MAXAM says it has consolidated its commitment to innovation with the development of an improved cartridge explosives offering.

The global technology company specialising in energy materials and blasting solutions made the announcement at the Mining and Minerals Hall held in Seville, Spain, from October 15-17, 2019.

MAXAM said: “With the aim of responding and adapting to increasingly demanding environments, the company has complemented the high performance of its dynamite, RIODIN, thanks to the introduction of new screw-in/attachable rods, more robust and functional packages.”

This will increase the loading speed of the explosive in the borehole, consequently improving the performance and safety associated with handling the RIODIN product, it said.

In addition to this, MAXAM has taken advantage of the MMH event to announce the development of what will be the new generation of cartridge explosives: RIOTECH. This highly energetic product, currently under development with a launch in Spain soon expected, comes with a completely new formulation specifically designed to provide better fragmentation, it said.

For Antonio Vidal, General Manager MAXAM in Spain, “both product lines reinforce the portfolio of MAXAM’s unique solutions as well as loading units. At MAXAM we develop customised solutions that respond to the needs of the market with a clear goal: to optimise the operations of our customers in any segment and condition.”

Alfred Nobel inducted into Explosives Industry Hall of Fame

Alfred Nobel has been named the 2020 Society of Explosives Engineers Education (SEE) Foundation Explosives Industry Hall of Fame inductee for his contributions to improving commercial explosives safety and controllability.

The Swedish businessman was an expert in many areas and is best known for his inventions in the field of explosives.

“He was deeply committed to developing safer explosives after an explosives accident killed his younger brother,” the International Society of Explosives Engineers said.

Nobel invented dynamite, gelignite and ballistite. Each product was a safety improvement over existing explosives. In all, Nobel was awarded 355 patents throughout his lifetime including one for a detonator and another for a safer blasting cap he developed. He was also the founder of Dyno Nobel, a global leader in the commercial explosives industry.

Nobel is just the third Explosives Industry Hall of Fame inductee. David E Siskind, PhD, who has more than 25 years of blasting and vibration research, and John D Loizeaux, a demolition expert who pioneered the use of the strategic and precise placement of explosives to cause buildings to fall where they stood, were the previous inductees.

Nobel’s induction was announced October 1, 2019, by the International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE), a professional association established to advance the science and art of explosives engineering.

The Explosives Industry Hall of Fame was created to honour outstanding contributions in technology and innovation while impacting the commercial explosives industry.

DynoConsult expands its reach and looks for closer mining company collaboration

Dyno Nobel Americas has announced value-added enhancements to its DynoConsult® business that, the company says, has a wider reach and includes programs to increase “saleable yield”, manage regulatory compliance and neighbour relations at customer sites, and reduce overall operating costs.

For more than 20 years, the DynoConsult team of experts has developed technical solutions to assist with customers’ operations.

The new and improved DynoConsult has specific offerings designed around improving blast performance through tried and true techniques, while collaborating with customers to meet specific blast outcome needs, the company says.

“The process begins with a rapid diagnostic assessment of the overall operation to determine cost drivers and potential areas for improvement,” Dyno Nobel Americas explained.

Drill hole planning and execution

Many customers experience poor field conditions and lack standard operating procedures, which prevent accurate drill-to-plan size, and angle and burden, the company explains.

“This results in sub-optimal blasting results, poor fragmentation, and excessive downstream costs (eg processing),” Dyno Nobel Americas said. “Expert assessments from DynoConsult of process deficiencies utilising a range of software and hardware measurement tools are part of the drill hole execution offering to measure drill-to-plan error and assist in implementing best practice methods.”

Optimisation tests look at the accuracy of drill-to-plan implementation, measurement of results downstream with telemetry, plant analytics, power consumption and other customer-specific metrics.

Detonation optimisation

Detonation issues, such as imprecise timing, vibration control, misfires and poor blast control are common for customers and can create operational inefficiencies, suboptimal throughput and safety hazards.

Dyno Nobel’s suite of detonation products and software services will be used by DynoConsult field engineers to enhance detonation practices and combat inefficiencies.

“Many of these software tools are proprietary and only available to DynoConsult team members,” the company said.

Explosive product selection

Some customers also face explosive selection issues that involve suboptimal choice or combination of explosives, services, and delivery systems that result in poor fragmentation or inefficient operations.

DynoConsult experts will prescribe the optimal explosive product(s) for the specific geological, logistical, or operational considerations of the site in order to optimise blast outcomes. “These recommendations are driven by evaluating overall operating costs and, specifically, costs downstream of the blasting process,” the company said.

Community relations and regulatory support

“Customers are often met with other issues involving safety, regulatory compliance, and surrounding community relationship issues dealing with vibration, fly rock and/or airblast,” Dyno Nobel said.

These issues can result in complaints from residential neighbourhoods or other problems, like on-site injuries, penalties, fines or shutdowns. DynoConsult experts can advise on mitigating issues with vibration, fly rock and overpressure that result in complaints. In addition, consultation on legal or regulatory issues can be provided with the intent of minimising disruptions to site operations or productivity levels, the company said.

Stockpile measurement

Measurement methods resulting in inconsistent volumetric accuracy, poor standardisation and substantial lag-time often strain customers’ ability to satisfy regulatory requirements. This impedes their ability to effectively manage inventory logistics.

The company said: “Using Dyno Nobel’s range of measurement software and drone imaging technology, a DynoConsult technical expert can provide stockpile measurement service that is accurate, fast, replicable and cost-effective.”

Fragmentation optimisation

“When customers have an overly aggressive or conservative drill plan, it results in suboptimal fragmentation,” Dyno Nobel says, explaining that optimal fragmentation must be defined by the customer and is unique to every operation, based on geologic conditions, local market and processing plant design.

“Limited onsite resources can make it difficult for customers to ensure equipment and resources are available in the right place at the right time,” the company said. “DynoConsult will use Dyno Nobel technologies and products to analyse baseline drill plans, identify inefficiencies and implement best practice solutions to provide site specific optimized fragmentation.”

Software solutions

DynoConsult now has the capability to offer Dyno Nobel’s full suite of technology applications and software. This includes tools like DataMiner, Dyno42, SignaShot and ShotReport.