Tag Archives: Explosives

Incitec Pivot looks for EMEA explosives growth with Titanobel transaction

Incitec Pivot Limited, owner of Dyno Nobel, has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in Explinvest, the holding company of the Titanobel Group, an industrial explosives manufacturer and drilling, blasting and technical services provider based in France.

Incitec has agreed to pay €91 million ($103 million) for Titanobel in a transaction it says is highly complementary to Dyno Nobel’s existing operations, providing access to new markets where the company can leverage its premium technology offering through substitution and growth strategies.

Titanobel has a strong customer base in the mature and stable European market with exposure to the quarry and construction sector, the growing African hard-rock sector and the rapidly expanding mining of future-facing minerals in the EMEA region, Incitec Pivot said. The company is supported by a well-established manufacturing base in France, which will be key to the delivery of the Dyno Nobel strategy in the region.

The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction of key milestones and conditions, including the French employee works council consultation process, and Incitec Pivot receiving foreign direct investment regulatory approval from the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is expected to complete by June 2022.

Titanobel provides drilling, blasting and technical services in France and across Europe, as well as in parts of western and southern Africa, Asia and the Pacific region. It has two main business units, explosives as well as drilling and blasting services.

Following the acquisition, Incitec Pivot intends to leverage the existing manufacturing footprint, the skills and technical experience of Titanobel’s existing workforce, and to enhance its offering through the introduction of Incitec Pivots’ technologies.

“Over time, IPL’s value adding technologies will be expanded into other markets in the EMEA region from this newly enhanced base,” it said. “The EMEA market is significant in size, characterised by low ammonium nitrate requirements, stable or growing minerals markets, and large initiating systems usage with low penetration of electronic detonators.”

IPL’s Managing Director and CEO, Jeanne Johns, said: “Titanobel’s acquisition will fit well with our strategy of taking our core explosive business, for which we are recognised globally, to new markets. We are excited for the potential to service new clients and partners with our market-leading technology.”

Orica sets out to transform mine-site used oil explosive utilisation with Cyclo

Orica’s Cyclo™, a solution combining the company’s emulsifier technology with used oil processing technology to transform mine-site used oil for application in explosives, is off to a fast start with the first automated containerised system recently successfully commissioned in Ghana.

Cyclo is an example of Orica’s strategic focus on optimised resource use through circularity, it said in its recently released annual report.

While used oil/diesel blends have been utilised in process fuels for more than 15 years, the technique requires tight quality control and regular testing when used to manufacture emulsions, the company said. “As a result, it has only been feasible at sites with access to external laboratory services.”

To service a broader range of customers, Orica has partnered with CreatEnergy to develop a standalone, on-site solution to treat used oil to the quality required for emulsion manufacture.

Orica initially scheduled Cyclo for market introduction in late 2022, but it scaled and sped up development and production plans to support customers’ operations and curtail material supply disruptions brought about by COVID-19.

“Our first automated containerised used oil recycling system, Cyclo, was successfully commissioned recently in Ghana, Africa,” Adam Mooney, Vice President of Blasting Technology, said. “We are working to gradually commission further units across more customer sites in the coming months, including in Papua New Guinea and Senegal.”

Bulk emulsion manufactured with Cyclo™ processed used oil

Over 33,000 litres of used oil has been processed to date through the initial Cyclo service, according to Mooney, who explained: “This is a modest quantity as the Cyclo unit was only commissioned remotely in recent months due to COVID-19. In a year, this mine is forecast to reduce their diesel consumption by approximately 250,000 litres.”

Mooney told IM that its used oil recycling technology is designed to support customers’ remote operations where Orica’s site-based emulsion plants are available.

“The key difference in the Cyclo service with existing offers in the market is that the containerised processing system is fully integrated into our on-site emulsion plants, enabling the used oil from the mine to be directly recycled without leaving the site,” he said. “The processing unit guarantees used oil quality to the standard required for emulsion manufacture by removing potential contaminants and, when combined with proprietary Orica emulsifier technology, guarantees finished bulk product quality.”

These installations will, the company said, reduce the annual diesel consumption for explosives manufacture for customers, depending on bulk product consumption, by some 250,000-800,000 litres per year per site when operational, delivering an environmental and commercial benefit to customers. On top of the obvious diesel consumption benefits, the solution will reduce truck movements through local communities and the associated logistical challenges and risks, particularly for remote operations.

A version of the Cyclo system to suit Arctic conditions (eg in Russia and parts of Asia) is currently being designed and will be operational in 2022, Mooney added.

BME continues to make blasting strides in Indonesia

Having pursued a global expansion in recent decades, South Africa-based blasting leader BME says it is making good on an exciting new phase for its Indonesia operations.

With mainly a trading presence in Indonesia for 10 years already, the Omnia Group company has been active in full-service contracting for the past two – and is already receiving high-level recognition, it says. In September 2021, BME Indonesia was honoured with a good mining practice award in the blasting services category by the Indonesian Government.

According to Brad Bulow, General Manager of BME Australia Asia, this bodes particularly well for the company in a country with such a bright future in mineral production.

“Indonesia’s mining sector is well positioned for growth, and coal is the fastest growing source of energy production there,” Bulow said. “Coal is mainly used in Indonesia’s power generation, and the country’s supply is dominated by coal-fired power plants at this stage.”

Forecasts indicate that coal will remain a dominant energy source in Indonesia and the South East Asian region until about 2050, supporting power generation and other industry sectors, according to BME.

“Nickel is also an exciting commodity for Indonesia, which is estimated to have the largest reserves of nickel in the world – more even than Australia,” said Bulow. “As an indispensable raw material for producing electric car batteries, nickel is one of the country’s fastest growing mineral commodities.”

Investors are looking at building smelters in-country to process nickel into raw material for batteries, while nickel ore itself has been banned for export by the government since January 2020.

Commenting on the recent good practice award, BME’s Business Manager Indonesia, Agusman, noted that such recognition meant a great deal – and would help cement BME’s reputation as an innovator with world-class standards of operation. BME Indonesia has been supplying explosive products and accessories into Indonesia for over a decade. Holding company BME is a leading player in blasting services and products in Africa, with a global presence including Australia, Canada and the US.

The company has also developed specific products for the region, including a single-salt emulsion. Widely known for its superior dual-salt emulsion technology, BME was able to respond to customer requests in 2019 for a single-salt option. This was put into use in early 2020 and has since been producing excellent blasting results, according to the company. The product has even been trialled with used oil as the fuel agent, which has become an environmentally friendly and sustainable hallmark of BME’s emulsion products.

While BME Indonesia supplied mainly ammonium nitrate, packaged explosives, boosters, and electric and non-electric detonators before 2019, its large blasting services contract in south Kalimantan has opened the door for significant expansion.

“In this project, BME Indonesia has put to work four Mobile Manufacturing Units (MMUs) – our bulk explosives delivery trucks – and an on-site emulsion manufacturing plant,” Bulow said. “In addition to emulsion and down-the-hole services, we are also supplying our AXXIS™ electronic detonators to help customers achieve timing accuracy and control their blasting vibration.”

Another important aspect of BME’s technological contribution is the move by customers toward big data analytics, according to Bulow.

“Big data allows larger mines and their contractors to generate meaningful insights into their operations – paving the way to greater efficiency,” he said. “BME Indonesia is introducing our BLAST ALLIANCE™ portfolio of digital innovations, which includes our BLASTMAP™ planning software, BME Blasting guide app and XPLOLOG™ cloud data platform. Solutions such as AXXIS integration, custom development and training also fall under this brand.”

In the medium term, Bulow said the company looks forward to winning more projects and penetrating further into surface metals and underground mining – and the funding, innovation and advanced technology is in place to achieve this goal.

“Looking further ahead, BME Indonesia expects to continue growing its contribution to Indonesia in general – and local communities in particular,” he said. “This includes our transfer of knowledge and technology, the utilisation of local resources and ongoing community development.”

MAXAM’s automation and digitalisation efforts continue with X-Energy

Blasting solutions provider, MAXAM is continuing its automation and digitalisation drive with the development of its X-Energy innovations, all of which are aimed at ensuring the proper use of its explosives’ energy to optimise downstream outputs, according to MAXAM Technical Senior Advisor, Vicente Huélamo.

As part of this, MAXAM has developed a “powerful and structured” digital platform called MAXAM Blast Center for storing, managing and sharing blast-related data. The platform is a user friendly, customised web-based system that can be accessed remotely.

Users can track information and generate reports detailing blasting activities in real time, since the platform enables the full integration of MAXAM digital tools to design, plan and conduct efficient drilling and blasting operations, the company said. The MAXAM Blast Center can include downstream data from the mine to track and optimise drilling and blasting, with the process commencing with blast design information generated in RIOBLAST, MAXAM’s blast design software, and transferred to the Blast Center platform.

RIOBLAST takes into account rock characteristics and blasting requirements to define the blast loading plans, timing configuration and the bulk explosive density profile for each specific rock layer along the borehole.

The complete blast design is then transferred to the Blast Center from where it can be assigned to the specific Mobile Sensitising Unit (MSU) and the X-Logger. On the bench, the blaster can gather actual data with the X-Logger, such as stemming length and hole conditions, while the MSU loads the boreholes according to the blast loading plan, MAXAM explained. The actual loading data is transferred back to the Blast Center where the information can be shared and processed.

“Innovative solutions using data science, business intelligence, equipment utilisation and blast optimisation can be developed as a consequence of the digitalisation of blasting processes,” MAXAM says. “The application of artificial intelligence and machine learning are key to generating value at each stage of the mine production cycle.”

The new generation of MAXAM’s fully digitalised MSUs, X-TRUCK, represents state-of-the-art technology for the manufacturing and loading of bulk blasting products, according to the company.

X-Truck offers a means of communication between the MAXAM Blast Center and the MSU control system, the company said. Loading plans can be sent directly to the loading units via a high-speed Wi-Fi network, allowing each MSU manufacture the specified quantity of product and load it directly into each borehole.

“The sensitising and loading of explosives is an operation that requires the highest quality standards to achieve the desired results,” the company explained. “MAXAM Blast Center ensures that the entire process, from blast design, data exchange, to final product application and blasting outcomes, is consistently performed safely, correctly and efficiently to always produce the optimum blasting outcomes.”

X-Logger, meanwhile, is an application for portable devices designed to collect and digitise actual data on the bench, such as borehole parameters after drilling, the amount of product loaded in each borehole, stemming control and other attributes. The device is fully integrated into the MAXAM Blast Center in a way that the data retrieved from the field is automatically updated in the platform using the internet connection. In the absence of such a connection, the data is synchronised when the connection is re-established.

MAXAM concluded: “The integration of geology, blasting design and drilling information into an innovative explosive application technology contributes to the mine optimisation program. These optimisation capabilities involve the ability to continuously model and measure all related phenomena and operational performance and consolidate them into a continuous improvement program of all the mine operations.”

BME breaks another electronic detonator blast record in South Africa

Another South African record for the largest electronic detonator blast has been broken by the blasting and explosives company BME.

The blast was conducted by BME, an Omnia Group company, at the end of 2020 at a manganese mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Using its AXXIS™ electronic initiation system, BME was able to plan and execute a blast of 4,647 detonators. Just a few months earlier, the company had broken a previous record at the same mine by initiating 3,780 detonators in a single blast.

“The latest achievement involved a remarkable 535 t of emulsion explosive in over 2,300 blast holes requiring a total of more than 37,000 m of drilling,” Kobus Boonzaaier, BME Area Manager in the Northern Cape, said. “The resulting blast was able to move almost 2.3 Mt of rock within a matter of seconds.”

Boonzaaier highlighted that the advantage of these large blasts is that they allow mines to blast less often; this means less disruption and a more streamlined operation. The size of the blast was not the only factor to consider, however, as a quality blast must also optimise key outcomes like fragmentation, BME said.

“We were pleased to once again achieve good fragmentation with this blast, ensuring that the resulting particle size would facilitate efficient loading, hauling and comminution by the mine,” Boonzaaier said.

The mine has made use of a full blasting service from BME for the past five years, with BME providing its expertise through a team of over 20 blasters, operators and assistants.

BME’s emulsion explosives – combined with AXXIS electronic initiation system, electronic detonators, blast planning software and other accessories – have been helping break records at South African mines for over a decade. It has conducted even larger blasts in Australia and Zambia in recent years – in the coal and copper sectors, respectively.

Orica to deliver tech and blasting services to Glencore’s Australia copper, zinc ops

Orica says it has been awarded a five-year explosives technology and services contract for Glencore’s Australia copper and zinc operations, effective January 2021.

Glencore, one of the world’s largest globally diversified natural resource companies, produces and markets a diverse range of metals and minerals, with its Australia copper and zinc operations including McArthur River Mine (Northern Territory), Lady Loretta Mine (Queensland), Mount Isa Mines (Queensland), Ernest Henry Mine (Queensland) and CSA Mine (New South Wales). Orica has an existing supply agreement with Glencore’s nickel and cobalt operations at Murrin Murrin, in Western Australia.

As part of the contract, Orica will deliver the full suite of explosives technology and blasting services across the Glencore copper and zinc operations in Australia, including supply of the fully wireless initiating system, WebGen™, BlastIQ™ digital blast optimisation suite of products and smart explosives delivery system, Bulkmaster™ 7.

This partnership further strengthens and expands Orica’s longstanding relationship with Glencore, the manufacturer of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems said.

Orica Chief Executive, Alberto Calderon, said: “Glencore is a key global diversified customer, and we are delighted to be partnering with them across their Australian copper and zinc operations, integrating our most advanced technologies and solutions to solve their more complex operational needs.

“Glencore’s Ernest Henry mine in northwest Queensland was the first site in the world to trial and adopt our wireless explosives technology, WebGen. This deal shows Glencore’s confidence in our technology roadmap as well as aligning with their strategic vision for technology to deliver added value to their operations.”

Orica will work closely with Glencore to ensure uninterrupted supply to each operation, during the rapid mobilisation and transition period, it said.

NSW to help coal miners experiment with new explosives at underground test facility

Australia’s only independent underground mine explosives testing facility has opened on the New South Wales Central Coast, paving the way for improvements in mine safety and innovation in the mining industry.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro (pictured), launched the first round of explosive testing at the new facility at Freeman’s Waterhole, which will operate under the management of the Mine Safety Technology Centre within the NSW Resources Regulator.

Barilaro said the facility is made from high-grade steel and concrete with modifications to reduce sound impacts and provides an appropriate location to test the safety of explosives made within the state, for use in underground coal mining operations.

“This will be the only independent explosives testing facility of its kind in Australia, making New South Wales the nation’s leader in mine safety development,” he said.

“Currently, there are few explosives that can be used in underground coal mines and these kinds of explosives have a very short shelf life, they don’t travel well and need to be developed and tested locally.

“Under the control of the NSW Resources Regulator’s Mine Safety Technology Centre, this facility will be used to determine if locally made explosives are viable and meet vital safety requirements to protect the wellbeing of workers.”

Barilaro said when used safely, explosives can significantly improve the productivity of underground mines by reducing the number of time-consuming and labour-intensive longwall moves required to extract coal, increasing the overall volume of coal recovered.

“The industry benefits significantly from the use of explosives in underground mines and the facility launched today will allow greater testing, experimentation and innovation from local businesses that specialise in producing explosives for mines,” Barilaro said.

“The facility is also discreet; it has been built on the site of a quarry to reduce impact on the surrounding environment and computer modelling has been used to determine the most effective ways to reduce noise.”

Test rounds at the facility will be scheduled to meet the needs of industry, at up to two to three times per year, restricted to work hours on weekdays, the government said.

Orica’s WebGen cuts cycle time, reduces dilution at Nexa Resources lead-zinc mine

Orica’s fully wireless initiation system, WebGen™, has another achievement under its belt, this time helping Nexa Resources’ Vazante underground mine reduce ore dilution from 27% to 20%, resulting in a net benefit of $1.59 million.

The single blast event achieved a smaller hydraulic radius by keeping the pillar during the stope extraction which, in turn, resulted in a reduced cycle time to 20 days, down 70% from an expected 90 days, by maintaining two mucking access points to the main stope. This was only possible due to the wireless capability of WebGen, Orica said.

“The unique blasting approach dramatically improved safety by pre-loading the pillar with WebGen, minimising the exposure of personnel and removing the need to re-enter the area,” the company said.

WebGen allows for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through hundreds of metres of rock, air, and water. This eliminates the need for down-wires and surface connecting wires, enabling new mining methods and blasting techniques that are safe and reliable, according to Orica.

In addition to Vazante, WebGen has improved performance and safety at several other mining operations, including Newmont’s Musselwhite operation (Canada) and First Quantum Minerals’ Kevitsa mine (Finland).

Nexa Vazante Chief Mining Engineer, Mateus Ribeiro, said: “Thanks to this technology and partnership, we recovered an island rib pillar, which is a pillar kept in the open stope for dilution control. After all the ore from the block was extracted and the pillar had completed its requirement, the pre-loaded holes were successfully initiated remotely.

“We went through a series of improvements in the evolution of blasting technology with Orica, from the first detonators until nowadays using 100% wireless detonators. The blast happened two levels below us, so we are 400 m away, above the shot. All encoded signals were sent through the rock with the safety protocols to fire the blast being followed.”

Vazante is a zinc-lead mine owned by Nexa Resources, located in northwest Minas Gerais, Brazil. Using vertical retreat mining (VRM) and long hole open stope as the main methods for ore extraction, the mine has traditionally deployed wired initiators in the recovery of ore, typically yielding around 60% ore recovery in the pillars. The application of wired initiators also required increased resources and time in the mine, according to Orica.

In 2019, Orica proposed the implementation of WebGen wireless initiating technology at Vazante to support the team in mitigating the operational and safety challenges of the mine. Enabled by the wireless technology, ore within the pillars can be recovered through pre-loading without the need to return to the open stope. With the introduction of WebGen, the mine was able to gain time in the sequencing of the blast and extract ore previously inaccessible while improving its operating productivity, according to Orica.

Orica’s Latin America Wireless and Electronic Blasting Systems Specialist, Wesley Andrade, said: “The Nexa Vazante crew and our team conducted extensive site signal surveying and applied best practices to ensure the drill pattern in the pillar was accurately loaded with WebGen 100 units, encoded and positioned as planned.

“This achievement in recovering a pillar through wireless initiation while protecting people from hazards is made possible only by the strong partnership between Nexa Vazante and Orica. We are thrilled to have Nexa Vazante successfully implement wireless blasting with our WebGen initiating system.”

The pillar pre-loaded with the wireless initiators was safely fired after 33 days of sleep time, with several ore blasts taking place alongside the pre-loaded pillar. A second application is currently being studied to allow pre-loading of an entire stope, which will reduce operational risk, the number of cycles and increase ore production and therefore profitability for Nexa Vazante, Orica says.

The new generation of wireless initiation system, WebGen 200, is set for commercial release in early 2021. A newer, improved version, WebGen 200 harnesses digital technology to allow advanced reprogramming and digital inventory management, offering mine operations an integrated user interface with improved quality assurance, according to Orica.

BME keeps supply up amid lockdown as it prepares for COVID-19-related business changes

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions around Southern Africa have thrown the spotlight on mines’ supply security, with key inputs like explosives and blasting services among these.

According to Albie Visser, General Manager at blasting specialist BME, mines have relied heavily on the flexibility and ingenuity of service providers to keep the supply chain functioning.

“The first weeks of the lockdown were challenging, especially regarding the logistics of moving our emulsion product across national borders from South Africa into other southern African countries,” Visser said. “Different countries – and even different border posts – applied different rules, making it difficult to know what the exact compliance requirements were.”

Albie Visser, General Manager at BME

He noted the pandemic had caught most authorities unaware, leading to regulations being hurriedly developed and enforced.

“In some cases, the regulatory requirements were not practical,” he said. “At one border, for instance, drivers were required to have a COVID-19 test not older than three days – but in South Africa it took nine days to get results from a test through normal channels.”

This meant that innovative thinking was called for, and BME worked closely with its own suppliers and the mines themselves. While some deliveries were initially delayed by border issues, the company’s responsiveness and agility kept up its deliveries to site, it said.

National lockdowns in the region affected the mining sectors differently from country to country.

“South Africa’s lockdown saw demand for emulsion drop sharply at first, but this has almost returned to normal as mines ramped up to full production where possible,” he said. “While mining in Botswana has slowed, Namibia’s mining industry has been more resilient and our supplies to Zambia are almost unaffected.”

Site precautions

In South Africa, BME is working on many mine sites, with an average of three teams per site. By conducting risk assessments and adapting its existing safety systems, BME quickly developed its own COVID-19 protocols in line with national safety regulations – even before some of the mines finalised their own systems.

Among the measures BME has applied is to divide staff into small groups to keep closer control of movements and restrict infections. For example, each group will stay together for transport purposes, and will use only one specified bus.

“Each bus, which has a thermometer for daily testing, will collect staff from their homes,” Visser said. “We know exactly who they live with, for purposes of future contact tracing.”

It does mean more buses arriving at the work site, but any infection picked up can then be controlled and traced within that group. There is also another screening test at the mine site when staff arrive, and the necessary social distancing is observed.

“To date our measures have been very effective, with no COVID-19 infections at any of our operations,” he said.

Overcoming barriers

Outside of South Africa, there have been some notable achievements in the face of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME, relayed a few of these.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME

“Among the logistical achievements, for instance, was the timeous shipping of resources to customers in Australia and West Africa – which was done in anticipation of the lockdown,” he said.

BME was also able to continue satisfying the requirements of one of Zambia’s largest copper producers, despite the difficulties of negotiating border regulations.

At the same time as this, the company is continuing to roll out large projects for major customers, while keeping most of its staff working remotely. This includes the recruitment of about 170 people for one key project, and the continuation of on-site testing.

Automation, remote optionality

From the manufacturing perspective, BME’s facilities are also well positioned to keep feeding the supply chain even under lockdown conditions, according to Ralf Hennecke, BME’s General Manager: Technology and Marketing.

“Most of our production plant processes are highly automated, so we can readily apply the necessary social distancing and minimise staff without affecting production,” Hennecke said. “This applies to our explosives facilities as well as our factories for non-electric and electronic detonators.”

Ralf Hennecke BME General Manager: Technology and Marketing

BME has put in considerable investment in the automation of its manufacturing plant at Delmas in Mpumalanga, South Africa, for instance. While the driver for this process was primarily the quality of its emulsion product, the effect has been to enhance security of supply while applying strict social distancing protocols, it said.

Keenan said: “At our facility in Losberg, Gauteng, where we manufacture our AXXIS™ equipment and non-electric detonation systems, there is also a high level of automation. We can therefore accommodate the COVID-19 regulations without affecting the value chain.”

Even the company’s remote bulk emulsion plants – often located on customer’s mine sites – can be operated with minimal staff.

Hennecke highlighted that BME’s technology, including planning and reporting platforms like BLASTMAP™ and XPLOLOG™, also assist mines to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission.

“Our technological innovations allow data to be digitally captured, stored and transferred to the mine’s operational and administrative systems,” he said. “This can be done safely with only a few human touchpoints, and also in real time for greater efficiency.”

The future

While the current efforts are to keep mining operations running normally, the future will see considerable changes in how suppliers like BME support customers, according to Keenan.

“The leveraging of technological innovation to keep mine sites safe and efficient becomes an even more vital imperative for technology providers,” he said.

Operationally, there will be ongoing focus on social distancing and digital processes to reduce proximity between employees.

With strict requirements limiting face to face interaction, more communication with customers will also have to be conducted digitally.

These communication systems will also have to be adapted to streamline the sales process and keep contracts flowing, according to BME.

“Creative solutions will need to be found for how to manage tenders, for example, especially where site visits are required,” Kennan said. “There are still various practical issues to be resolved so that normal procurement can continue.”

In terms of further expediting the shift to non-contact interaction with customers, BME’s new enterprise resource planning system enhances its shared services capacity, allowing less paperwork and more electronic documentation and processing.

BME ups blast design ante with new mobile app

BME has launched a new, free Blasting Guide application for Android mobile devices that, it says, enables users to rapidly calculate and check blast designs.

Currently available for download from the Google Play Store, the new BME Blasting Guide mobile app replaces traditional paper booklets carried and referenced by in-field users, BME says. It includes a blast design calculator, quick calculators and prediction calculators. Other app features include surface blast design rules of thumb, environmental guidelines, a table of common rock properties and a BME contact directory per country.

“The new app is an integral part of BME’s pioneering approach to harnessing the power of digital technology in the blasting sector,” Christiaan Liebenberg, Software Product Manager at BME, said. “This platform gives our Blasting Guide a mobility and ease of use that makes a blasting engineer’s job easier and more productive.”

Liebenberg said that while the app is not a blast design tool, it is a powerful means of verifying blast design outputs and making important blast planning decisions.

BME Global Manager Blasting Science, D Scott Scovira, said the blast design calculator is a series of guiding formulas that allows a blaster or engineer to plan a blast from start to finish.

“The blast design calculator utilises user inputs including burden, spacing, stemming height, sub-drill, hole diameter, bench height and explosive type to determine explosive loads, powder factors and other outputs,” Scovira said. “It could be used, for example, to investigate potential blast patterns for a greenfield site, where numerous scenarios can be quickly generated and calculations checked.”

Scovira added that the rules of thumb table – which summarises surface blast design guidelines – can be referenced by users as they access the blast design calculators.

The quick calculator includes a BME in-house formula for the target powder factor, as well as calculations related to the volume of rock to be blasted – either volume per hole or volume per blast, BME said.

There are energy equations to compare different types of explosives based on their relative bulk strength, while hole-charging equations determine the mass of explosives going into a hole and address loading with gassed emulsion products, according to the company. This helps determine column lengths and stemming lengths – with gassed and ungassed explosives.

“The app’s prediction calculators include estimation of peak particle velocity and maximum charge weight per delay based on industry standard scaled distance equations and user defined ground transmission constants,” BME said.

One of the prediction calculators can provide the user with guidance in estimating the blast clearance radius. This is based on maximum projected rock throw, calculated from scaled depth of burial equations and parameters. The scaled depth of burial equations and parameters are propriety to world recognised blasting consultant R Frank Chiappetta of Blasting Analysis International Inc and used by BME with permission, the company clarified.

“In line with its strategic commitment to collaboration in the digital space, BME engaged VIGA Interactive to create a world-class user experience and design, as well as Sympl Technology Solutions for the development work,” Liebenberg said.