Tag Archives: Orica

Orica’s 4D bulk explosives tech gains traction in Australia

Having launched its 4D™ bulk explosives technology at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, in September, Orica is now demonstrating the innovation to coal customers on Australia’s East Coast.

The 4D bulk system enables the real-time tailoring of explosives energy to geology across a blast, delivering improvements in fragmentation, on-bench productivity and an overall reduction in drill and blast costs, according to Orica. It is designed to enable customers to, the company says, seamlessly match a greater range of explosives energy across a mine’s geology and target specific blast outcomes in real time.

Back in September, the company said the first release of 4D would begin with Australia from the end of 2021, and it appears Orica has stuck with that schedule.

“We are happy to share that, in Australia, we are currently demonstrating 4D to customers in the East Coast’s coal mines, each with a unique focus to their needs,” the company told IM. “For example, with one customer, we are demonstrating how 4D technology can reduce their overall drill and blast cost through lower explosives consumption, as well as better manage vibration in specific areas of their operation.”

With another customer, Orica is applying the 4D technology to its Fortis™ Clear range of bulk explosive products – formulated for use in applications where the generation of post-blast fume could be experienced – to demonstrate the reduction of fume risk in soft and wet ground, it added.

The technology is also being developed across Orica’s Fortan™ and Aquacharge™ bulk systems but will eventually be applied across Orica’s full suite of bulk systems.

4D is being delivered to these customers through Mobile Manufacturing Units (MMU™) equipped with LOADPlus™, Orica’s proprietary in-cab smart explosives delivery control system that, it says, enables accurate and efficient delivery of formulated explosives products to plan.

By combining emulsion blended with ammonium nitrate porous prills, 4D supports both pumped and augered loading methods across dry, wet and dewatered hole conditions. An outcome of this capability is greater on-bench productivity by Orica’s fleet of 4D-enabled, without the need to change raw materials in the MMU, Orica says.

Delivering up to 23% more relative bulk strength for hard-rock applications and up to 43% reduction in soft-rock applications, 4D will enable a broader range of applications, according to Orica.

Orica said in its half-year results to the end of March 31, 2022 that it was expecting to roll out the 4D technology to more sites in the second half of its financial year.

Orica to further optimise blasting and mine-to-mill initiatives with FRAGTrack Crusher

Orica has announced the release of its latest fragmentation monitoring solution, FRAGTrack™ Crusher, an automated pre-crusher fragmentation measurement tool delivering, it says, operational continuity in a safe and reliable way.

Based on the success of the existing suite of automated post-blast fragmentation monitoring solutions, Orica has developed FRAGTrack Crusher to meet growing demand from customers for downstream monitoring and optimisation solutions at every stage of the mining value chain, the company said. The technology leverages the latest deep neural network artificial intelligence (AI) framework along with “industry-proven” hybrid 2D and 3D particle size distribution (PSD) processing methods to deliver a fully autonomous adaptive fragmentation monitoring solution at the crusher dump pocket, enabling customers to measure material on the truck during the tipping operations, according to the company.

The company said: “FRAGTrack Crusher provides truck-by-truck PSD analysis of rock fragments during the dumping operation with unmatched accuracy and without impacting operations or productivity.”

The technology delivers constant performance tracking for both the drill and blast operations and the downstream processing functions, driving continuous improvements end-to-end in the mining value chain. When bundled with Orica’s FRAGTrack Conveyor technology in a fragmentation monitoring solution, it enables further analysis of the crusher’s performance and the impact of blasting parameters in a production workflow in real time, according to Orica.

Orica Vice President – Digital Solutions, Raj Mathiravedu, said: “The full adoption of AI technology into our architecture, coupled with our strategic partnership with Microsoft, allows us to expedite the delivery of capabilities that were not previously possible, and FRAGTrack Crusher is an example of how we leverage AI to help deliver intelligence and value to our customers.”

PSD data is provided via a real-time application programming interface and industrial open platform communication unified architecture protocol to drill and blast software and crusher distributed control systems, allowing seamless integration into the existing site operation workflows, Orica says.

FRAGTrack Crusher has already been gaining traction globally in the mining and quarry markets, where it is being used as a critical enabler of blasting optimisation and mine-to-mill initiatives, according to the company. “This signals a significant transformation from the subjective nature of existing manual PSD analysis methods while eliminating the safety concerns of on-bench photography and the extensive time required to manually process and correlate to relevant data sets, including fleet management data to determine the material’s blast of origin.”

In the most recent application of FRAGTrack Crusher in a Tier One low-cost gold operation in Western Australia, it successfully delivered an automated blasting optimisation workflow on site leveraging PSD as a primary key performance indicator to throughput and overall mill performance. The project included installation of a FRAGTrack Conveyor system, post crusher, allowing pre- and post-crusher PSD to be monitored. When combined with a fragmentation improvement process, the FRAGTrack solution enabled a continuous feedback loop that enabled the operation to rapidly optimise blast designs that drive overall project profitability, according to Orica.

Orica sticks with growth predictions as it completes Minova sale

Orica has completed the sale of its Minova business to the Aurelius Group for A$180 million ($131 million), with A$149 million of cash received at completion factoring in debt and “debt-like items”, as well as confirmed expectations that its first half performance is likely to representing year-on-year growth.

The company announced the planned sale of its rock reinforcement business back in December 2021, with the deal completed on February 28.

Orica additionally said that its first-half 2022 financial year performance, as previously announced at the 2021 full year results in November 2021, was expected to be stronger than the prior corresponding period (pcp). This, it said, reflects the positive momentum leading into the year associated with improved global commodity markets, which will result in volume growth in line with global GDP growth.

“Pricing discipline in contract negotiations is expected to broadly mitigate rising input costs and pass-through lags,” it explained. “Security of supply for Orica’s customers remains a priority in a tightening global ammonium nitrate market due to geopolitical issues and supply chain disruptions, which will result in increased trade working capital.”

All continuous manufacturing plants have been operating to required available capacity as determined by market demand, Orica said, and two planned turnarounds had been completed in the half year to date, namely the Carseland site-wide turnaround, which commenced in September 2021, was completed in October 2021; and the Yarwun turnarounds for two nitric acid plants, one ammonium nitrate plant and the emulsion manufacturing plant were all successfully completed in November 2021.

Orica Managing Director and CEO, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “We’ve been able to maintain the positive momentum from the second half last year and remain on track to deliver a stronger first half than the prior corresponding period.

“With our refreshed strategy firmly in place, we are focussed on progressing on our four key business verticals and are well placed to leverage our strengths and seize opportunities in a tightening global market, while continuing to streamline the business.”

Orica, Origin partner on ‘Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub’ feasibility study for Kooragang Island

Orica and Origin have announced a partnership to assess opportunities to collaborate on the development of a green hydrogen production facility, and associated value chain, in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Orica and Origin will conduct a feasibility study into the viability of a green hydrogen production facility, or ‘Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub’, and downstream value chain opportunities.

The feasibility study will assess ways an industrial hydrogen hub could enable use cases that support a meaningful green hydrogen industry in the Hunter Valley and beyond, Orica said. This includes the supply of hydrogen for heavy industry and transport, conversion into green ammonia at Orica’s existing Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility, blending hydrogen into natural gas pipelines and the potential to stimulate Australia’s hydrogen export industry.

Green hydrogen, produced via electrolysis using renewable electricity sources, has emerged as a potentially significant enabler of Australia’s transition to a lower carbon economy. The proposed hub would produce green hydrogen from recycled water sources and renewable electricity, using a grid connected 55 MW electrolyser.

Orica Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “We’ve been operating our Kooragang Island site for over 50 years, and are committed to ensuring both our manufacturing facility and the Newcastle region remain competitive in a low carbon economy, while also strengthening Australia’s domestic manufacturing capability.

“We support both the Federal and New South Wales Hydrogen Strategies, and this partnership will allow us to define opportunities and ways we can contribute to a more sustainable future for the region.

“This partnership aligns with our corporate strategy and our ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and our target to reduce our scope 1 and 2 operational emissions by at least 40% by 2030. By partnering for progress, we can drive sustainable change and achieve our decarbonisation ambitions, together.”

The project marks an important step in transitioning Orica’s business model towards a lower carbon economy, it said. Exploring opportunities to diversify, Orica is committed to ensuring its Kooragang Island facility remains competitive in a lower carbon economy, while creating more sustainable products for customers and broader applications for industry.

The project builds on several initiatives to enhance the long-term sustainability of the site, including the recently announced Kooragang Island Decarbonisation Project and planned installation of an Australia-first tertiary catalyst abatement technology for decarbonisation of nitric acid production. The A$37 million ($27 million) project is designed to deliver up to 95% abatement efficiency from unabated levels, reducing the site’s total greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50%.

Epiroc, Orica secure Newcrest Cadia trial for commercial Avatel charging system

Newcrest Mining is set to trial Avatel, a fully mechanised development charging system developed by Epiroc and Orica, at the Cadia operation in New South Wales, Australia, later this year, according to Tony Sprague.

Sprague, Group Manager, Directional Studies and Innovation at Newcrest, said this will be the first commercial trial of the Orica and Epiroc co-developed system anywhere in the world.

Orica and Epiroc, back in 2019, announced joint work on a semi-automated explosives delivery system, enabling safer and more productive blasting operations in underground mines. The companies said the partnership would “bring together the deep expertise and experience of two global industry leaders” to address the growing demand from customers mining in increasingly more hazardous and challenging underground operations.

Avatel includes Orica’s HandiLoader™ emulsion process body, Epiroc’s M2C carrier and RCS 5 control system, working with Orica’s LOADPlus™ control system and WebGen™ 200 wireless initiation system and automated WebGen magazine. Epiroc has also incorporated an onboard dewatering and lifter debris clearing system, while Orica’s ShotPlus™ intelligent blast design software is also being leveraged. These components help eliminate the need for traditional tie-ins and other physical wired connections from the charging cycle.

Orica has stated previously: “This first-of-its-kind innovation enables a single operator to prepare and charge explosives from the safety of an enclosed cabin, several metres from the face and out of harm’s way. Combined with Orica’s LOADPlus smart control system and Subtek Control bulk emulsion, customers can enjoy complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution.”

Trials with a prototype machine have been taking place at Epiroc’s Kvantorp Underground Test Mine in Sweden under controlled underground conditions. IM understands there are also plans for a machine to head to Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä Mine in Finland to complete extended underground trials in the production environment.

Newcrest’s Cadia operation is set to be the first site to trial the complete commercial offering at Cadia, commencing in the second half of 2022, according to Sprague.

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.

Orica and Alpha HPA commit to clean energy advances in Queensland

Orica and Alpha HPA have signed the Central Queensland Statement of Cooperation as part of a plan to help the state “seize the opportunities that clean energy presents”, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Steven Miles, says.

“Queensland is renewable ready and Central Queensland is perfectly primed to take advantage of the state’s natural energy advantage while creating economic opportunities,” Miles said. “This Statement of Cooperation ensures that Queensland can benefit from the global shift towards decarbonisation, starting in Central Queensland.

“The shared vision, between industry and government, for renewables in Central Queensland is great news for community members, who will benefit from more jobs right along the supply chain. Central Queensland is a key component of Queensland’s energy puzzle and energy-intensive industries in the area are already looking to switch to renewable energy supply.”

Orica and Alpha HPA previously executed binding, definitive agreements with each other related to the supply of process reagents and the offtake of process by-product to/from Alpha HPA’s First Project and Orica’s Yarwun manufacturing facility (pictured) within the Gladstone State Development Area in north Queensland.

Alpha HPA’s First Project represents the commercialisation of the production of circa-10,000 t/y equivalent of high-purity alumina and related products using the company’s proprietary licensed solvent extraction and HPA refining technology. The technology provides for the extraction and purification of aluminium from an industrial feedstock to produce 4N (>99.99% purity) alumina for the intended use within the lithium-ion battery and LED lighting industry.

The two companies join Rio Tinto in this co-operation.

The statement of cooperation will, Orica says, secure the future competitiveness of Queensland, adding value to a natural energy advantage to drive employment and economic outcomes for Queensland by focusing on three areas:

  • Committing to industry by establishing certainty for current industry and growing demand;
  • Delivering a globally competitive energy solution that is centred around firmed, low-carbon electricity for industry; and
  • Growing the industries of the future in Central Queensland by creating an enabling regulatory environment, strengthening regional skills and employment to lower capital intensity, and planning for the infrastructure to enable industry development.

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, Minister for Water and Member for Gladstone, Glenn Butcher, said the addition of Orica and Alpha HPA was another vote of confidence for the region.

“More industry partners signing up to the Statement of Cooperation is great news for Central Queensland,” Butcher said.

“It shows our government’s strategy and investment in these emerging industries is working and that Central Queenslanders will see direct benefits as we build a globally competitive renewable industry.”

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said consumers around the world were demanding low emissions products and that was a massive opportunity for regional Queensland.

“We know that reliable, cheap, clean electricity will attract more industrial activity to Queensland, so agreements like this one will boost jobs in Gladstone and regional Queensland,” de Brenni said.

Orica Australia Pacific Vice President, John Cooper, said the company will deploy technology to accelerate lower-carbon manufacturing in the region, enable new renewable generation assets and advance lower-carbon products for customers.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Orica to be part of,” Cooper said. “With so much experience in decarbonisation, Orica can help Queensland become a global leader in renewable energy and succeed in a low-carbon economy, bringing substantial environment, economic and social benefits to the state.

“This is another great example of public and private partnering towards decarbonisation. We are looking forward to working with the Queensland Government and industry on an exciting future for Central Queensland.”

Rob Williamson, COO from Alpha HPA, said Alpha HPA is committed to using renewables in their operations.

“Having recently purchased a site for our high purity alumina facility in Gladstone, we are excited by the opportunity,” Williamson said. “There is a global shift as the world is demanding more renewable energy to support decarbonisation in both energy generation and low energy consuming products.

“We want to produce a range of low carbon footprint, high purity aluminium products for critical decarbonising technologies whilst creating jobs for local communities.”

Orica initiates WebGen 200 wireless blasting trial in Canada

As Orica progress towards the full commercial release of its WebGen™ 200 wireless blasting initiation platform, another milestone has been recently achieved at Moose Creek Quarry in Canada.

The team loaded and fired the first production blast for WebGen 200 on a customer site, successfully blasting 130 units.

This successful blast is a major milestone in the readiness of WebGen 200 for commercialisation, according to Orica, representing the culmination of years of research and development across technology, marketing, commercial, supply and manufacturing teams.

It comes two months after the company unveiled the product at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, USA.

Global Head – New Technology Commercialisation, Nigel Pereira, said: “I want to thank all those involved in the successful trial and the team responsible for the development of our second-generation patented wireless initiating system, WebGen 200.

“This moves us one step closer to commercial release, and with over 70,000 WebGen 100 units fired across 2,500 blasts, both Orica and the industry are eager to see the program progress.”

Engineered to deliver market-leading safety and reliability, WebGen 200 has been built with enhanced capabilities, security and versatility, delivering safety and productivity gains for today’s applications and ensuring it meets the extreme mining conditions faced by surface and underground customers pushing the boundaries of mining’s next frontier, Orica said.

WebGen 200 will be available in four product variants and include a wider range of booster weights, opening up new segments, applications and opportunities in both surface and underground mining. The complete product range now includes the WebGen 200 Surface, WebGen 200 Surface Pro, WebGen 200 Underground Pro, and WebGen 200 Dev.

Orica acquires Wallis Drilling’s RIG Technologies RC logging while drilling business

Wallis Drilling says it has sold its RIG Technologies Reverse Circulation Logging While Drilling (LWD) business to explosives and blasting systems leader, Orica.

The RIG Technologies business includes, downhole behind-the-hammer geophysics sensors (gamma-ray and gyro), drill rig-based sensor platforms and a cloud-based data management system.

Wallis and RIG Technologies commenced as a joint venture in 2016, with Wallis acquiring the entire business in 2019.

Wallis says it successfully grown RIG Technologies and invested in the ongoing development of its LWD capabilities and associated products. At this point, the product suite is in the early phase of commercialisation and is being used by large resource companies, the company added.

The transaction delivers Wallis a solid return on its investment and provides significant upside sales exposure over the next five years under Orica stewardship, Wallis said.

Following the sale, RIG Technologies now forms part of Orica’s orebody intelligence category, within its digital solutions portfolio, alongside its recent acquisition of Hopper Industrial Group, a group of geophysics companies that specialise in mining and groundwater technologies and services.

RIG Technologies personnel, including 33 engineers, technical and field staff, will integrate into Orica. The business will continue to be led by original Partner and Director, Tim Hopper, with its operational and manufacturing activities remaining in Western Australia.

Wallis said: “RIG Technologies will independently continue to develop and deliver world-leading instrumentation and cloud-based technologies to help the mining industry obtain real-time geophysical and LWD data.”

Wallis and RIG Technologies will retain a five-year technical partnership to ensure continued testing and real-time deployment of the tools and other associated products in a field operating environment, it added.

Wallis Drilling Chairman, Graeme Wallis, said the sale enabled RIG Technologies to leverage its first-mover advantage and is overwhelmingly the best option for all stakeholders.

“The timing is right given where we have positioned the RIG Technologies business,” he said. “Orica has the financial resources, global customer base and distribution network to market and scale its product suite.

“For Wallis, the sale allows us to increase the rate of investment in our main drilling business. In recent years, strong organic growth has been accelerated by the design, manufacture and deployment of our leading range of Wallis RC and Mantis autonomous drill rigs.”

Wallis Drilling CEO, Mark Crumby, added: “Wallis has a successful history of innovation and commercialising new technologies for the mining industry. The development of RIG Technologies’ product suite, and its subsequent sale to Orica, is another example of this success.”

(Photo Credit: ‘csfoto – Christian Sprogoe photographer’)

Orica continues to expand digital capabilities with help of Microsoft Azure

Leading blasting company Orica says it is rapidly expanding its digital capability, creating data rich and AI-infused tools that enable step-change improvements in customers’ productivity, safety and sustainability.

Over the last four years, Orica has grown its digital team fivefold, and from a standing start it now has more than 200 customers for its digital solutions – building a whole new offering and revenue stream for the company, it said.

It has now enlisted the help of Microsoft’s Azure platform as the strategic cloud foundation for its emerging digital portfolio. Azure’s performance, reliability, scalability and security provide trusted foundations for innovation while access to Azure IoT, a growing portfolio of Azure cognitive services and an extensive library of AI tools helps accelerate Orica’s digital innovation, according to Rajkumar Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions for Orica.

Mathiravedu is also keen on the industry cross-pollination opportunities that the Azure ecosystem affords. He noted: “We are seeing Azure being deployed in lot of oil and gas applications and some of those can easily be applied in mining.”

Meanwhile he’s keeping a close eye on how emerging Azure capabilities, such as Azure Space which allows satellite information to be made easily accessible, could further expand Orica’s innovation horizons.

The company is already working on open digital platforms that integrate Orica expertise, customers’ own data with machine learning to create intelligent production workflows that, in real time, reveal to mining engineers what they are working with at a particular site and provide live design recommendations.

“Whether it is hard, medium, soft, and how the rock changes and where the most valuable ore is located,” Mathiravedu said. “So what it really means is now you can actually optimise the right explosives energy specific to the desired outcomes.

“This has a huge impact from a sustainability perspective. By using the right energy to break the rocks, we’re optimising the chemical energy. We are materially reducing the water and electricity, which is used for grinding and processing later, while readily managing environmental factors such dust and vibrations.”

This solution is now in production with an iron ore miner based in Australia, he added.

Orica’s cloud based digital platforms are designed to allow information to be shared openly across mining ecosystems – from geological exploration, through blasting, extraction and processing – integrating sensor and IoT data with AI-infused analytics to provide mining customers with the insights which will allow them to go “deeper, steeper and cheaper”, Mathiravedu said.

Leveraging the cloud, IoT, edge-processing and machine learning algorithms, Orica focuses on delivering real-time data-driven insights to help customers optimise energy use, drill patterns and maximise efficiencies both on the mine site and throughout the downstream value chain.

Srikant Kadambi, Energy Lead, Microsoft Asia, said: “Orica has unparalleled domain expertise and global industry knowledge. Combining that with Microsoft Azure capabilities and the ability of our teams and ecosystems to deploy these technologies at production scale allows us to work together to create literally ground-breaking – pun intended – solutions for the whole mining value chain. We bring to the table our whole Azure ecosystem, access to libraries of AI tools developed for different industries, and skills and expertise that we can share with Orica as it continues to grow its digital capability.”

To reinforce this digital focus, Orica has opened a Digital Immersion Centre in Brisbane – a specialised facility where it can, the company says, work with development partners, including Microsoft, and customers to promote innovation, spur collaboration and also establish an Orica data and analytics centre of excellence.

This centre of excellence brings together data science, artificial intelligence, modern cloud computing and Orica’s 140 plus years of domain expertise. It will also act as an incubator for any Orica digital businesses.

Mathiravedu said the digital team is building solutions to support existing Orica customers, as well as new customers from right across the sector’s value chain. Open by design, these platforms are tailored for a range of applications focused around efficiency, productivity and safety as well as to help support customers achieve their own sustainability targets.

“We do not want to be constrained only to existing Orica customers,” he said. “We want to be available to the entire mining value chain.”