Tag Archives: Orica

Orica looks to enhance blast design value generation with OREPro 3D Predict

Orica has announced the release of its latest OREPro™ 3D Predict modelling software that, it says, predicts blast movement in near real time and optimises grade control value.

Over 30 years of research and development (R&D) coupled with significant cloud-based computing power have led to the creation of OREPro 3D Predict software, which is at its heart a blast movement simulator and grade control polygon optimiser. The solution leverages the power of Orica’s original OREPro 3D modelling expertise with an addition of the enhanced predictive SmartVector™ technology, it said.

The company explained: “No longer are blast designers relying on simple rules of thumb or luck to optimise blasting for grade control; OREPro 3D Predict opens the door to iterative designs and the quantification of value in each blast design.”

Using readily available mine data as inputs, including blast designs and in-situ block models, physics-based algorithms predict movement dynamics throughout the entire blast volume to create a “swelled post-blast grade control block model”. The polygon optimisation tools will then suggest delineations that can help achieve the highest value possible, according to Orica.

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “Orica’s purpose is to mobilise the earth’s resources sustainably and we aim to achieve this by integrating end-to-end workflows across the mining value chain, and it all starts with a better understanding of the orebody and the way in which it moves during extraction.

“With OREPro 3D Predict, our customers can now predict blast results, allowing blast designers to rapidly create blasts that increase value in near real time instead of waiting until the blast is excavated to understand the impacts.”

Understanding where the rock mass has moved during the blast is critical to separating ore and waste effectively and creating downstream efficiencies in the mining process. OREPro 3D Predict takes this a step further by simulating post-blast topography when it cannot be surveyed safely, handling complex boundary conditions with ease and providing enhanced transparency by animating the entire predicted movement, Orica said.

OREPro 3D Predict further enhances Orica’s Digital Solutions offerings by allowing customers to plan effectively and track material through complex interactions with the surrounding geology. This product is a cornerstone of iterative optimisation and complements the reactive software OREPro 3D, creating value for its customers through a complete grade control workflow offering, the company added.

Orica, Epiroc and Agnico Eagle carry out world-first development charging milestone at Kittilä

Orica and Epiroc, in partnership with Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel™ – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine in Finland.

The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept that dramatically improves safety at the face, which is one of the highest risk activities in underground mining today, Orica and Epiroc say.

Avatel enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin while offering the best available blast outcomes through the integration of Orica and Epiroc’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.

The first successful blast was loaded and fired on November 22, 2022, comprising 61 Orica WebGen™ 200 Dev wireless primers and 295 kilograms of Orica’s Subtek™ bulk emulsion loaded to a development face at the Kittilä mine.

Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.

“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimisation benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring. The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers, we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”

Sami Niiranen, President for Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognised solutions and advanced Rig Control System, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry.”

Jari Näsi, Development Manager – Kittilä Mine, Agnico Eagle, said: “We are proud to create history here at Kittilä where the first mechanised and wireless development blast was initiated. There is always some risk when working close to the face; being able to do this work safely and efficiently from the cabin is promising, and mechanising the process will give a better blasting result.”

The first commercial implementation of Avatel will take place at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations from December 2022.

GroundProbe chooses Tucson for location of second manufacturing facility

GroundProbe has announced plans to build a second dedicated manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona, USA, marking a new chapter in its commitment to better serve its customers in the Northern hemisphere.

The expansion of GroundProbe’s manufacturing capabilities comes following significant growth in recent years.

Announcing its plans at the recent International Slope Stability Symposium in Arizona, GroundProbe CEO, David Noon, said the new facility will open its doors in early 2023.

“As our global footprint and customer base continues to grow, so too does the volume and variety of products that we produce,” he said. “We saw it as an absolute necessity to bolster our offering and extend our manufacturing capability from Asia Pacific to the Americas.

“It means that, from early 2023, we will be able to more readily deploy our safety-critical systems – systems that are integral to their ongoing operations and productivity – to our Northern hemisphere customers.”

GroundProbe, which currently manufactures its products in Australia, says it is widely accepted as the global leader in real-time technologies that detect instabilities and predict when mine and dam collapses will occur.

The addition of a second manufacturing facility signifies an important step for GroundProbe’s future growth, especially for North and South America, for GroundProbe’s Chief Commercial Officer and VP Americas, Ben Moke.

“When scouting locations for a second site, Tucson quickly became the preferred location,” Moke said. “It’s central to our customers, and it’s close to a number of geotechnical consulting firms and university partners, including the Geotechnical Center of Excellence at the University of Arizona.

“It’s going to be fantastic to have a facility where the geotechnical community can experience our state-of-the-art technology being manufactured and deployed to mine sites across the Americas. With a track record that speaks for itself, GroundProbe’s technologies are the industry’s most robust and reliable, having never failed to detect a collapse.

“The second facility will manufacture every one of our products to the same level of quality that we are known for and that is expected of us as market leaders.”

Orica and Alpha HPA strengthen high-purity aluminium ties

Orica has expanded its strategic relationship with Alpha HPA Limited, including acquiring a 5% equity interest and establishing a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to investigate the feasibility of establishing a new high-purity aluminium (HPA) manufacturing facility in North America.

The funds from the equity investment will be used to accelerate final engineering and product marketing for the full-scale HPA First Project at Gladstone, Queensland, and to advance feasibility studies on the potential of an additional HPA manufacturing facility in North America, with the remaining funds used for general working capital.

The non-binding MoU, meanwhile, will see the comapanies mutually investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of establishing a new manufacturing facility in North America to produce HPA products for the rapidly expanding future-facing industries in the region. The facility would seek to leverage and replicate the chemical process synergies that have been successfully established between Orica and Alpha HPA in the development of the HPA First Project at Gladstone. This would include the supply of process reagents and the offtake of process by-products to/from Alpha HPA’s and Orica’s manufacturing facility, supporting circularity between the two parties.

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 HPA 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.

Orica Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Alpha HPA in Australia, we are thrilled to further expand our relationship and explore opportunities for growth and circularity in North America. The Alpha HPA First project in Queensland has demonstrated how industrial partnerships can optimise resource use, simultaneously creating value and reducing waste.”

Alpha HPA Managing Director, Rimas Kairaitis, said: “Having established a strong working relationship in developing our HPA First Project, the mutual ambition to expand our relationship into North America and establish Orica as a strategic shareholder in our company is a welcome progression of our relationship. Importantly, we see these initiatives as a strong endorsement of the ongoing development of our business.

“Orica has a detailed understanding of our process technology, the advanced nature of our marketing activities, and a strong appreciation of our commitment to building a sustainable business to help decarbonise critical future-facing industries. We welcome Orica as a new shareholder in our company and look forward to taking this exciting next step in our development together.”

GroundProbe cancels out atmospheric ‘noise’ with new slope stability monitoring algorithm

A collaboration with mining operations across the globe has resulted in the development of a new atmospheric correction algorithm for Slope Stability Radar (SSR) that, GroundProbe says, provides a step change in the way atmospherics are treated and managed.

Precision Atmospherics is the most advanced correction algorithm in the market today, according to the company, able to distinguish and significantly reduce the noise caused by the most turbulent atmospheric conditions, providing a decisively clearer picture of real deformation.

It is the result of several years of rigorous development, testing and evolution, and represents one of the most significant research and development projects GroundProbe has ever undertaken, the company says. GroundProbe partnered with a global collection of mines in different climatic regions in the extensive validation program, including one of the largest open-pit mines in the world, Rio Tinto Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah, the US.

Rio Tinto Kennecott’s Senior Engineer, Geotech, Dustin Hicks, has been part of Precision Atmospherics development and testing since 2019, when first presented to Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon mine.

“GroundProbe delivered an SSR-Omni equipped with Precision Atmospherics to Bingham Canyon to demonstrate its capability in the rapidly changing atmospheric environment that our site experiences,” Hicks said.

“The Precision Atmospherics algorithm effectively managed a variety of atmospheric conditions including blast and wind induced dust plumes, rain and snow, which resulted in significantly less contaminated data.

“It reduced the noise on a scan-by-scan basis, which opens the door for tighter alarm configurations that would otherwise overburden the geotechnical team.”

In complex atmospheres, especially at large mines, atmospheric variability can hinder the ability to detect early-stage movement.

Precision Atmospherics is currently available on GroundProbe’s 2D Real Aperture Radars fleet. The combination of real aperture technologies with this algorithm allows mine sites to have better deformation detection capability in all seasons and conditions, according to the company.

GroundProbe’s Chief Executive Officer, David Noon, said Precision Atmospherics is a game changer in tracking both slow and rapid trends.

“With the smoother plots and cleaner maps that Precision Atmospherics provides, customers can focus their attention on recently started or slow-moving deformation,” he said. “This is important for gleaning the potentially significant geotechnical problems that can only be detected through long-term analysis.

“Both rapid and slow trends are shown in a single data set, and unlike other techniques, there is no post-processing required to detect slow movements.”

Alberto Cabrejo, GroundProbe’s Global Practice Lead – Geotechnical Advisory, added: “Precision Atmospherics is the most important addition to the monitoring practice using interferometric radars. It responds directly to the most important request from Geotechnical Engineers around the world: data quality.

“With this algorithm, we can finally use tight alarms appropriate for rock mass deformation rather than alarms that will not be triggered by weather changes.”

GroundProbe and Orica collaborate on ‘world-first’ BlastVision solution

GroundProbe, a member of the Orica Group, has launched BlastVision®, a world-first solution that, it says, delivers actionable blast performance insights for optimal safety and productivity.

The crucial data aids in the detection of potential misfires and out-of-sequence firing and in identifying and tracking fly rock, according to the company. Intra-blast monitoring also adds valuable wall control insights, such as monitoring and mapping instantaneous blast damage to slopes and identifying movement on significant structures.

GroundProbe, a specialist in geotechnical monitoring, leveraged the partnership with Orica, a leading mining and blasting solutions provider, to gain information around current blast monitoring methods through interviews with engineers, according to GroundProbe CEO, David Noon.

“Through talking to mine site engineers responsible for blasting on the ground, we identified that many sites were still using quite simple and sometimes unsafe methods for blast analysis.

“Techniques included recording blasts with ground-based camera systems and conducting visual inspections of this footage to determine areas of concern.

“From this, the idea of using drone footage and automated algorithms to quickly identify key areas of interest was born.”

BlastVision takes custom high-speed drone footage of a blast as it happens, using world-first advanced proprietary algorithms and modern AI frameworks to convert the footage into analytics data, according to GroundProbe. Data is then remotely analysed in its custom software platform, with insights swiftly reported back to the site. From these insights, mine site personnel can optimise blasting and monitor the impacts of blasting, improving both safety and productivity, the company said.

The solution has been tested, trialled or demonstrated across over 60 mine sites around the globe, positively impacting hundreds of drill and blast team members across these mine sites, according to GroundProbe.

GroundProbe’s VP – Technology, Fernanda Carrea, said that no other solution provides the range of insights from the whole blast area that BlastVision provides, from start to finish.

“BlastVision provides an increased level of safety, efficiency, accuracy and productivity through our software algorithm automatically identifying key areas and issues,” Carrea said.

“Data is also able to be captured before, during and after a blast, and covers the blast area in its entirety.

“We can proudly say that this patent-pending technology is a world first.”

Orica ups the fragmentation monitoring ante with FRAGTrack Gantry

Orica has announced the release of what it says is its most innovative fragmentation monitoring solution yet, FRAGTrack™ Gantry.

The company calls FRAGTrack Gantry a market-first haul truck measurement solution that combines real-time oversize detection alerts and accurate particle size distribution (PSD) of fragmentation on all models and sizes of haul trucks.

The new product combines the success of the existing suite of automated post-blast fragmentation monitoring solutions – covering the original FRAGTrack release and the release of FRAGTrack Crusher earlier this year – and the feedback from customers experiencing loss of production due to crusher blockage.

FRAGTrack Gantry uses advanced machine vision and machine learning technologies to enable autonomous triggering and processing, without interfering with the haulage operation, Orica claims

It leverages real-time oversized detection through artificial intelligence (AI), with the machine-learning capability applied to real-time detection accomplished within seconds, with alerts syndicated via Fleet Management Systems (FMS), email or SMS for the re-routing of trucks. Operators can also predetermine customisable oversize limits, enabling a reduction in crusher blockage/damage frequency due to oversize material, the company says.

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 Gantry is another example of how we are leveraging AI to help deliver intelligence and value to our customers.”

The reliable and accurate fragmentation information from FRAGTrack Gantry enables customers to optimise their drill and blast operations for downstream processes without impacting the haul circuit operation, Orica says. The addition of a Gantry option complements the suite of FRAGTrack measurement systems currently available for shovel-, crusher- and conveyor-mounted configurations.

Orica conducts first surface blast with WebGen 200 at Blair Athol mine

Orica says it has hit another milestone in its “Alpha” trials for the wireless WebGen™ 200 solution, with the first surface mining blast conducted at TerraCom’s Blair Athol coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

Orica’s WebGen team recently successfully loaded and fired the first open-pit coal blast with the through-the-earth, fully wireless initiating system at the operation.

WebGen technology provides for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through hundreds of metres of rock, water, and air. This completely removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection to each primer in a blast and importantly allows us to remove people from harm’s way, according to Orica.

Engineered to deliver robust safety and reliability, WebGen 200 has been built with enhanced capabilities, security and versatility, ensuring it meets the extreme mining conditions faced by surface and underground customers. It harnesses digital technology to allow advanced features including digital inventory management, an improved user interface and increased quality assurance.

The Alpha trial program is a comprehensive verification process and validation product testing in the field. Orica has hit some successful milestones recently with Alpha trials for its WebGen 200 Surface primer in the US, Chile and now in Australia with Blair Athol being the first coal mine globally to trial the new generation technology.

Orica Senior Manager WebGen Commercialisation, Rhys Patterson, said: “We’re excited about what the future holds for the industry with WebGen 200 as we progress towards commercial release of WebGen 200 Surface, which is expected in early 2023. The success of the program would not be possible without the trust and willingness of our valued customers to partner with us.”

Commenting on this trial, TerraCom Managing Director, Danny McCarthy, said: “TerraCom is pleased to be at the forefront of this technology with our valued partner Orica. We welcome innovative ways and techniques to make our workplaces safer and, of course, more productive.

“We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved from our team on the ground at Blair Athol to everyone at Orica for their commitment to a safe and successful trial.”

Orica closed out Alpha trials of its second generation fully wireless initiating system for the underground market in September. Orica’s underground customers around the world have started to transition to the WebGen 200 Underground Pro, with customers reaping the benefits of adopting this technology, according to the company.

Orica unveiled a WebGen 200 product range that included the WebGen 200 Surface, WebGen 200 Surface Pro, WebGen 200 Underground Pro and WebGen 200 Dev at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, in September last year.

Since then, it has initiated trials at the Moose Creek Quarry in Canada, where the team on site loaded and fired the first production blast for WebGen 200 on a customer site, successfully blasting 130 units.

A WebGen 200 wireless initiation system is also on board Avatel™, Orica and Epiroc’s jointly engineered fully mechanised development charging system. Avatel recently achieved a world first with the automated loading of its fully wireless initiating system into a blast hole.

Orica’s wireless blasting tech overcomes magnetite challenges at LKAB Kiruna

A four-year collaboration between Orica and LKAB has resulted in the first production blasts using wireless initiation technology at the Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

These blasts – charged in the middle of May and blasted in early June – are going some way to support LKAB’s safety, productivity and long-term automation objectives, according to Abhisek Roy, EMEA Head of Marketing for Orica.

It has involved an extensive amount of work to get to this blasting milestone, according to Ingemar Haslinger, Technical Services Lead Europe at Orica.

He explained: “It all started in 2018 when LKAB showed interest in our new WebGen™ wireless technology. They could see the benefits in both safety and productivity with the new way of producing the ore.”

This saw Orica go to site at the Kiruna mine in March 2018 to begin with a signal survey, testing if the company could obtain a good signal between the antenna and the in-hole receivers.

WebGen provides for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through rock, water and air. This removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection to each primer in a blast. The wireless blasting system not only improves safety – by removing people from harm’s way – but improves productivity – by removing the constraints imposed by wired connections.

It is, therefore, considered, a critical pre-cursor to automating the charging process.

To this point, WebGen has fired over 100,000 units in over 3,000 blasts globally across customer sites, Orica says.

At Kiruna, however, the process from testing to technology on-boarding was less than straightforward.

“In the area of the mine where the signal survey was completed in 2018, it was discovered that the signal could not penetrate the magnetite ore at all,” Haslinger said. “This was the first time we had encountered this and was a setback for Orica and LKAB.”

At that time, Orica did not have the localised field equipment or advanced diagnostic tools to diagnose the antenna issue, making it difficult to ascertain the root cause.

“We had to go back to our global WebGen specialists and try to understand why this was happening, which we were successfully able to do,” Haslinger said.

After dedicated work from the global team, Orica went back to Kiruna in September 2020, looking to replicate the signal survey from 2018 and use its advanced diagnostic tools to measure the antenna performance and output.

“We also had the opportunity to test the signal behaviour in the holes, as well as measure the rock properties around the antenna and the in-hole receivers,” Haslinger added.

The survey proved successful, explaining why the signal could not go through the orebody. This allowed the global WebGen team to start developing solutions to overcome the signal problem, which it was able to do in short order.

In December 2020, the Orica team was back at the underground iron ore mine to test the new solution.

“The first trials with the new solution showed positive results and the global team continued to develop that further,” Haslinger said. “In May 2021, we tried the solution in many different conditions and applications to be sure that it would work in the mine. These trials gave us a lot more knowledge about the environment and how the new solution worked.

“In 2022, we were ready to test the system in active mine operations and it has been an extensive amount of work to get us to that point.”

Development of the WebGen wireless underground blasting technology is ongoing at the Kiruna mine

Michal Gryienko, Engineer at LKAB in Kiruna, said the first two production rings were charged using WebGen in the middle of May before blasting occurred in early June. This is one of the benefits of the system, with the wireless primers able to sit dormant in the blasting profile for around 30 days prior to blast initiation.

“The results look good so far,” Gryienko said. “In total, we will blast five production rings, and the final three are planned to be blasted in September.”

Among the benefits Gryienko highlighted were the reduction in risk associated with hole priming and the possibility of detonating more blast holes due to the ability overcome damaged or unstable blasting applications.

Orica’s Roy said the collaboration between the two companies has been “fantastic”.

“Despite the challenges around transmission of signal across the magnetite orebody that is a prerequisite for a successful wireless initiation, both companies have worked as partners for the last four years, finding practical and creative solutions,” he said.

“This hopefully is the start of a long-term sustainable wireless blasting solution that supports LKAB’s safety and productivity objectives and long-term automation goals.”

Orica fills gap in Orebody Intelligence portfolio with Axis Mining buy

Orica has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Axis Mining Technology, a leader in the design, development and manufacture of specialised geospatial tools and instruments for the mining industry, as it looks to create a full-service Orebody Intelligence business that positions the ASX-listed company to become what it says is the industry’s first integrated, end-to-end, mine to mill solutions provider.

The acquisition represents a highly strategic acquisition and a valuable addition to Orica’s Digital Solutions platform, it added, saying Axis’ geospatial technology accelerates its capabilities to support new mineral discoveries required for decarbonisation. Axis’ gold and copper exposure also accelerates Orica’s broader commodity mix objectives.

At last week’s Investor Day presentation, Orica’s Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, highlighted the geospatial area as a “a gap” in the company’s Orebody Intelligence porfolio.

The binding agreement has seen Orica offer A$260 million ($180 million) in cash to acquire 100% of the share capital in the entities that own Axis, in addition to a deferred earn-out payment up to a maximum A$90 million. These amounts are to be funded through the proceeds of a fully underwritten A$650 million institutional share placement.

As part of the deal, Axis’ existing management team will enter into new employment agreements with Orica as part of the integration process.

Orica Managing Director and CEO, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “Orica’s purpose is to sustainably mobilise the earth’s resources and achieving this starts with a better understanding of the orebody at the start of the mining value chain. I believe that Axis’ differentiated geospatial tools and instruments, combined with our existing suite of digital solutions, will provide compelling orebody intelligence to customers and support the delivery of the industry’s first end-to-end solutions platform, from mine to mill.

“The integration of Axis’ technology and expertise will accelerate our ability to support our customer’s digital transformation efforts around the world, helping them to operate more efficiently, sustainably and safely.”

Axis is a growing business that designs, manufactures and distributes specialised navigation instrumentation, data and drilling solutions for the mining industry. Axis has a differentiated market position, offering a comprehensive suite of tools and instruments to meet customers’ geospatial requirements, according to Orica. Its products are manufactured and assembled at Axis’ UK and Australian facilities, and distributed to over 30 countries.