Tag Archives: Orica

Orica to open access to the Integrated Extraction Simulator with JKTech deal

Orica says it has signed a landmark software licence agreement with JKTech Pty Ltd that will give it access to models developed by the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) that are used in comminution and flotation simulation.

The agreement will open industry access to the Integrated Extraction Simulator (IES) with JKMRC models – by combining widely applied industry models into one integrated and collaborative cloud-hosted platform that simulates and optimises every step in the mining value chain, the company said.

At the back end of last year, Orica was selected as the commercialisation partner for the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction’s (CRC ORE) IES, 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.

IES has been developed from the combined research of CRC ORE, The JKMRC and AMIRA, and, to this point, has been available free to CRC ORE 1 Participants (term 2010-2015) and CRC ORE 2 Participants (term 2015-2021) when used in research projects and site-based implementations.

Integrating and optimising drilling and blasting, crushing, grinding and flotation, IES provides mine managers with a cloud-based decision support platform that enables production departments to coordinate and optimise system value across all operational metrics.

“Mining operations have to process multiple material types simultaneously in their operations – so their simulator platform should be able to as well,” CRC ORE says. “IES has been designed from the ground up as a platform for multi-component modelling and the new generation equipment models are responding to the challenge. Trusted models from years of research have been upgraded to ‘multi-component’ capability and IES offers model developer’s sophisticated tools to facilitate multi-component processing.”

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “This partnership will allow us to continue to underpin advances in simulation and industry value creation, from orebody knowledge through to the final product.”

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.”

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.

Orica leverages MWD data, AI to create new blast loading design benchmark

Orica is looking to set a new benchmark for blast loading designs in Latin America after deploying its Design for Outcome solution in the region.

The company, focused on integrating its digital blasting tools to improve outcomes, is leveraging its BlastIQ digital blast optimisation platform within this new solution, Angus Melbourne, Chief Commercial and Technology Officer of Orica, told delegates at Massmin 2020 last week.

In a presentation titled, ‘Blasting’s Critical Role in Extracting Ore’, Melbourne mentioned Design for Outcome as an example of where the company was delivering integrated digital solutions in Latin America.

“Design for Outcome is an automated continual optimisation solution that sets a new benchmark for blast loading designs,” he said. “It utilises data science to process both upstream and downstream data to automate blast designs. This produces tailored and optimised blast designs by reducing blast variability and explosive consumption while increasing productivity.”

Using machine-learning algorithms, Design for Outcome processes measured-while-drilling data to classify ground hardness throughout each blast hole and then match explosives energy to hardness domains to automatically generate tailored blast loading designs, Melbourne explained.

Through artificial intelligence, these algorithms are trained with the data received from the fleet control systems (FMS) and previous blast results. This enables final automation of the blasting design process and its execution in the field with Orica’s smart control systems and programming interfaces, loading the blast accurately according to the generated design. These elements combine to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved, Melbourne said.

“Digitally-enabled blasting solutions such as Design for Outcome are allowing us to work with customers in different ways, to think and act differently and expand our role in the mining value chain,” he said.

Such a solution is part of the company’s plans to automate its segment of the mining process. This goal was strengthened last month with the launch of the Orica and Epiroc jointly developed Avatel™ semi-automated explosives delivery system.

A key enabling technology of Avatel, which is built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, the company’s fully wireless initiation system. When combined with Orica’s LOADPlus™ smart control system, specifically designed on-board storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek™ Control bulk emulsion, Avatel provides customers with complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution, Orica says.

While referencing the second key pillar in Orica’s digital strategy, Melbourne highlighted the use of the company’s Bulkmaster™ 7 smart, connected explosives delivery system in Latin America during the virtual event.

The new delivery systems not only improve productivity but begin to digitise critical workflows between design and execution in drill and blast operations, according to Melbourne.

The Antamina copper mine in Peru, a joint venture between BHP, Glencore, Teck and Mitsubishi, will soon be leveraging such a system, with Melbourne confirming seven Bulkmaster 7 units had been shipped to the mine and were undergoing commissioning.

Orica’s third digitalisation pillar is the measurement of downstream impacts of the drill and blast process, which is where FRAGTrack™, the company’s automated rock fragmentation measurement device comes into play.

This device captures, analyses and reports real-time data for optimising blast operations, improving downstream productivity and tracking overall operational performance in mining and quarrying, Melbourne explained.

This system is active across several key customer sites in Latin America, with Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo operation in Chile being one of the first to adopt the technology in the world, according to Melbourne. He said the copper operation is using the insights to deliver efficiencies across the value chain through digitally enabled optimised 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.

Epiroc and Orica announce world first semi-automated explosives delivery system

Orica and Epiroc Rock Drills say they have successfully co-developed a prototype of the world’s first semi-automated explosives delivery system.

A sought-after technology by customers in the underground hard-rock mining sector, Avatel™ will deliver a completely new way of approaching development blasting operations by eliminating charge crew exposure at the face, according to the companies.

Orica and Epiroc expect to commence commissioning on Avatel, the first-of-its-kind, industry-driven explosives delivery system, in the coming weeks, meaning the solution could be deployed at underground mine sites as early as the end of 2021.

The solution provides safe access for an operator in cab to execute the development cycle while reducing the reliance on costly, time-consuming and, at times, ineffective controls put in place to manage the risks to personnel working in one of the highest risk areas of an underground mine, the companies said.

Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions.

“Achieving this significant development milestone, despite COVID-19 disruptions, shows the strength of our collaboration with Epiroc and our collective ability to deliver the future of mining.”

Epiroc’s President Underground division, Sami Niiranen, said: “With this partnership, we continue to raise the safety bar by combining world leading technologies that will make a difference in underground mines.

“The Avatel prototype represents the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground. We are looking forward to bringing this ground-breaking solution to customers worldwide.”

A key enabling technology of Avatel and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, Orica’s fully wireless initiation system. When combined with Orica’s LOADPlus™ smart control system, specifically designed on-board storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek™ Control bulk emulsion, Avatel provides customers with complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution, the companies say.

Built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and integrated with Orica’s latest explosives technology, Avatel is a twin boom, semi-autonomous and fully mechanised development charging solution that, Epiroc and Orica says, allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of Epiroc’s enclosed ROPS and FOPS certified cabin.

“Avatel is equipped with the most sophisticated version of Epiroc’s acclaimed Rig Control System (version 5),” they said.

“Through its intuitive interface, with a large touchscreen and dual multifunctional joysticks, and, combined with Epiroc´s computer assisted boom positioning features, it can be easily handled. Integrated with Orica’s LOADPlus, charge plans and other important data will be communicated between the systems.”

The design of Avatel builds on Epiroc’s application design experience, further adapted to match conditions this new solution will face. Future developments can be extended to other Epiroc carriers including battery drivelines, they say.

Other advantages include flexibility at the face through Epiroc´s dual diesel/electric plug-in power solution.

“The convergence of these technologies ultimately ensures that the right explosives will be safely delivered into the right holes and given the right timing to achieve optimal efficiencies and the desired outcomes,” the companies said.

Extensive trials of Avatel will take place throughout 2021, before the first commercially available systems are expected to enter service.

Orica announced in November 2019 that it had entered a partnership with Epiroc to develop a semi-automated explosives delivery system.

Orica and FRAGTrack recognised for innovative streak in AFR list

Orica’s fragmentation measurement technology, FRAGTrack™, has again gained recognition in the innovation community after being named in the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies List 2020.

FRAGTrack and Orica’s entrenched culture of innovation were behind the company’s second place ranking in the list under the Agriculture, Mining & Utilities Service sector.

The annual list, published by The Australian Financial Review (AFR) and Boss Magazine, is based on a rigorous assessment process, led by a panel of industry experts and innovation consultancy Inventium. From a pool of over 600 nominated organisations across Australia and New Zealand, Orica’s FRAGTrack was recognised as a pioneering technology in the Agriculture, Mining & Utilities Service industry, delivering significant value for customers, Orica said.

FRAGTrack, Orica’s automated fragmentation measurement device, accurately and reliably measures rock size and fragmentation following the blasting stage in mining and quarrying. While traditional methods are prone to operator bias and cannot generally operate in harsher mining environments, FRAGTrack captures, analyses and reports real-time data digitally, according to the company. Designed in collaboration with Design Anthology, Newie Ventures and Your Engineer Mechanical Engineering, the technology can be installed and upgraded remotely – creating safer, more accurate mining outcomes.

The latest award follows FRAGTrack receiving a Good Design Award accolade in the Engineering Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation earlier this year.

When judging the innovation, the AFR industry panel considered three key elements – how valuable the problem is that the innovation is solving, the quality and uniqueness of the solution, and the level of impact that the innovation has had. However, the organisation must also be able to demonstrate a truly innovative culture and a sustainable and repeatable approach to innovation across the business.

Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Innovation underpins everything we do at Orica, and it’s our pioneering spirit, amazing people and commitment to working collaboratively with our customers that allows us to continue to deliver products and technologies that are shaping the future of mining.

“Customer collaboration is key to our innovation process. By understanding our customer’s challenges and sharing their goals and aspirations, we can deliver better outcomes on site today, and use these insights to create new technologies that will deliver value tomorrow.

“FRAGTrack is an excellent example of this innovative spirit on show. This technology has evolved through collaborative innovation between our experts, customers, technology partners and the industry.”

He concluded: “At Orica, we’re proud to be leading the change in digital, automated blasting. The convergence of these technologies is allowing us to think differently, mine differently, operate more precisely and most importantly, remove people from harm’s way. FRAGTrack exemplifies all of this, while ultimately delivering significant value for the industry.”

GroundProbe’s SSR-Omni slope stability tech recognised at AEEA event

GroundProbe has taken out Queensland’s top award at the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (AEEA), hosted by industry body Engineers Australia.

The awards recognise and celebrate Australia’s top engineering projects and the engineering teams behind them.

GroundProbe received this award for its SSR-Omni technology. The SSR-Omni is the world’s leading Slope Stability Radar (SSR) technology for monitoring and detecting movement and potential collapses across open-pit mines and tailings dams, GroundProbe says.

GroundProbe’s Head of Product Development, Fernanda Carrea, said: “Our product development department is comprised of a world-class team of engineers across a breadth of engineering disciplines, all working towards a common goal; ensuring maximum safety for our customers through trailblazing technology.

“It’s exciting and humbling for our engineers to be recognised by their peers as experts in their field for their excellent work. The award is especially meaningful considering it’s across all engineering disciplines and industries, not just within our particular focus.”

GroundProbe focuses on real-time technologies that help manage risk, ensure safety and increase productivity across mining and civil projects. In 18 years, the company has grown from a PhD project at the University of Queensland into the global technology and innovation powerhouse it is today.

The SSR-Omni is GroundProbe’s full-coverage, high-resolution system.

Using embedded super-computing on a chip, the SSR-Omni scan processes over 600 MB of raw data down to a fraction of the size, while proprietary algorithms also predict the time of collapse and display the data in 2D and 3D visualisations. The day-night camera system can stream multiple video feeds at different zoom levels back to the user for real-time inspections, according to the company.

GroundProbe’s VP Technology, Lachlan Campbell, said GroundProbe has always been at the forefront of innovation but prides itself on adapting its tried-and-tested mechanical engineering experience to solve new problems.

“Due to catastrophic tailings dam failures resulting in devastating loss of life, the market was looking for a solution to ensure maximum safety for their facilities and surrounding communities,” Campbell said. “We developed a technology that covers the broadest of areas, detecting miniscule movement at the earliest possible time. In 40 seconds, the SSR-Omni scans 360° and takes 37 million measurements in a 11.2 km diameter, showing movement of rock and ground of 0.1 mm precision.”

The SSR-Omni has been successfully deployed to mining customers around the globe, including sites across Australia, North America, South America and Africa.

Engineers Australia Queensland Division Manager, Stacey Rawlings, said of GroundProbe’s award-winning technology: “The SSR-Omni pioneering approach has created a world leading solution for stability monitoring of pits and tailings dams and is a worthy nominee to represent Queensland at the national awards.”

GroundProbe has also been selected as a finalist for the Sir William Hudson Award – the highest honour for a project awarded by Engineers Australia. The Pinnacle Awards Ceremony will be held in November where the Sir William Hudson Award and National Engineer of the Year Award will be announced.

Orica’s FRAGTrack recognised for outstanding design and innovation at Good Design Awards

FRAGTrack™, Orica’s innovative fragmentation measurement technology, has received a prestigious Good Design Award accolade in the Engineering Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.

The award was recieved by Orica and design partners, Design Anthology, Newie Ventures and Your Engineer Mechanical Design, who supported the development of the technology. FRAGTrack captures real-time fragmentation measurement data for optimising drill and blast operations and improves downstream efficiencies in the mining process, Orica says.

The annual Good Design Awards is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious international awards for design and innovation with a history dating back to 1958.

“The awards celebrate the best new products and services on the Australian market, excellence in architectural design, engineering, fashion, digital and communication design, design strategy, social impact design and young designers,” the company said.

The Good Design Awards Jury praised FRAGTrack, commenting: “An innovative design that has the potential to improve commercial and safety outcomes in the mining and extractive industries that use drill and blast techniques. An excellent piece of engineering design using scanning and multi-camera technologies with extensive software engineering in a highly innovative application.

“The robustness of the design and its adaptability are also commended. This is a clever solution to the tedious problem of quantifying fragmentation after blasting. It ruggedises cameras and processors to survive in harsh mining and environmental conditions. Overall, a solid piece of industrial and engineering design that deserves to be recognised and celebrated.”

In accepting the award, Orica’s Vice President of Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, acknowledged: “We’ve been able to develop this unique digital solution by combining more than 20 years of customer input, internal expertise and collaborations with market-leading specialists Design Anthology, Newie Ventures and Your Engineer Mechanical Design to make it a reality. This award is recognition of the extraordinary people and partners behind this innovative and value delivering technology.

“Throughout the development process we’ve taken the time to listen to the needs of our customers, and then work with them to evolve the design and engineering to suit harsh mining conditions, delivering real impact and outcomes for them – it’s what makes this such a unique and impactful innovation, especially as our customers strive for greater competitive advantage in these challenging times.”

More than 55 Good Design Awards Jurors evaluated each entry according to a strict set of design criteria which covers ‘good design’, ‘design innovation’ and ‘design impact’, Orica says. Projects recognised with a Good Design Award must demonstrate excellence in good design and convince the Jury they are worthy of recognition at this level.

Dr Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia, said: “Receiving a Good Design Award is a significant achievement given the very high calibre and record number of entries received in 2020.”

Following last month’s ‘Australia’s Most Innovative Manufacturing Company’ and ‘Best Industrial IIoT Application’ awards, this latest recognition further cements FRAGTrack as a pioneer product in mining innovation, Orica said. “It is one of the key value-adding technologies that is reinforcing Orica’s differentiated position in the marketplace,” it added.

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.