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Blasting into the future

MAXAM says it is becoming an

integrated provider of blasting
solutions, principally by focusing on allround energy optimisation systems

The explosives industry is

enduring market conditions
along with its mining
customers but continues to
innovate and evolve,
reports Paul Mooree

s the global leader in mining explosives

supply, as well as being the most
geographically diverse supplier, Oricas
detailed results for the six months to end March
2016 are a good summary of the overall state of
the industry and how it is faring the current
The company reports that in its home market
of Australia, Pacific & Indonesia (566,000 t AN
and emulsion sales of which emulsion 59%),
sales revenue decreased by 11% due to lower
demand from coal and base metal customers as
well as pricing impacts. However, the
composition of sales revenue by mining
commodity remained stable with thermal and
coking coal continuing to comprise 50% of sales
revenue. Gold, which represents 18%, was
slightly down due to lower cyanide and
explosives volumes. Iron ore was stable at 12%.
Explosives volumes were down 9% with lower
demand impacting Eastern Australian surface
coal (down 6%) and the West (excluding Pilbara
region) down 23%. Volumes to PNG were down
64%, due to unfavourable weather conditions.
Volumes to third party suppliers were down
15%, however this was offset by improved
volumes of 13% in Indonesia. Emulsion products

International Mining | AUGUST 2016

were 4% lower with lower demand from Eastern

Australia surface coal customers due to a
combination of customer mix and weather
conditions. In contrast to the reduction in AN
volumes, sales of Initiating Systems, particularly
Electronic Blasting Systems (EBS) products were
higher, notably from surface coal customers in
Australia. Revenue from services decreased 11%
in the period, impacted by lower volume,
contract losses and a decrease in service levels
requested by customers due to cost pressures.
Also revenue from advanced products and
services as a percentage of total explosives
revenue declined to 21% from 25%, while
pricing for explosives was lower reflecting
market conditions and contracts renegotiated
for tenure extensions. However Orica countered
that these arrangements ensure volume and
pricing certainty in future years.
In North America (572,000 t AN and emulsion
sales of which emulsion 37%), sales revenue
decreased by 4% being reflective of lower
demand, particularly from coal customers, as
well as some pricing impacts, offset by
favourable foreign exchange translation. By
mining commodity, sales to gold customers and
quarrying markets continue to represent the
largest proportion at 27% and 19% respectively
due to firm commodity prices and ongoing
projects. Sales to coal customers reduced to
comprise 17% of revenue. This was due to lower
demand from thermal coal customers which
have been impacted by energy substitution to
lower cost natural gas combined with a mild
winter. Iron ore sales have increased due to
higher sales in Canada as well as contract wins.
Explosives volumes were down 5% as a result

of lower volumes into US coal markets (down

18%), partially offset by higher volumes into
Canadian metals markets (6%). The reduction in
US coal market volumes was largely through
indirect channels as a result of reduced
customer production, and a number of mine
closures. Quarrying volumes were slightly down
in Canada and Mexico while showing some
growth in the US.
Revenue from services increased 13% in the
period, with increased service levels to
quarrying customers in the US as well as metals
customers in Canada. Revenue from advanced
products and services as a percentage of total
explosives revenue increased to 28% from 25%.
Pricing for explosives was lower reflecting
market conditions and contracts renegotiated
for tenure extensions. Approximately 75% of the
pricing impact was negotiated during the 2015
In Latin America (304,000 t of AN and
emulsion sales, of which emulsion 61%), sales
revenue decreased by 13% due to lower
demand, some customer pricing impacts, and
lower commodity indices, offset by favourable
foreign exchange translation.
The composition of sales revenue by mining
commodity remained relatively stable with
major changes in line with key commodity
pricing. Sales to gold customers, which now
represents 25% of revenue, increased slightly
on the back of firm gold prices. Sales to copper
customers were slightly down, however still
represent the most significant portion of
revenue at 45%.
Explosives volumes were down 15% (55,000
t) with lower volumes in Chile and Colombia as a


In Europe emulsion explosives use of Oricas

total AN and emulsion sales is 91%
result of lower market demand. Chile volumes
were also negatively impacted by a contract loss
from the second half of 2015. Partially offsetting
these impacts were improved volumes to copper
and gold customers in Peru as well as customer
wins in Brazil. From an AN product mix
perspective, the volume reduction was stable
across the product range with emulsion
products holding at ~60% of total AN. Sales of
Initiating Systems, particularly EBS products
were higher, notably in Peru, Argentina and with
the ramp up of a new contract in Colombia.
Revenue from advanced products and
services as a percentage of total explosives
revenue declined to 27% from 28% while pricing
across explosives and cyanide was down due to
the flow through of contract renegotiations
completed in the second half of 2015.
Finally in the Europe, Africa and Asia region

(268,000 t AN and emulsion of which emulsion

91%), sales revenue increased 4% due to a
combination of higher demand in Africa from
new business as well as higher EBS sales across
all three sub-regions, in particular increased
penetration into the tunnelling market in South
East Asia. Europes revenue was flat but with
improved sales in Turkey and the CIS offset by
lower demand in the Nordics and UK as a result
of mine closures.
By mining commodity, the composition of
revenue across the region is weighted towards
quarrying markets (33%) in Europe and Asia,
gold (21%) in Africa and Asia, copper (14%) in
Africa and Europe and other commodities (19%)
including zinc and nickel in Europe and Asia.
Explosives volumes were broadly in line with the
previous period. Revenue from advanced
products and services as a percentage of total
explosives revenue increased to 22% from 17%.
Overall pricing across the region was generally

Orica CEO Alberto Calderon addressed

industry leaders at the West Australian Mining
Club June luncheon recently as follows: We
believe our differentiation strategy will allow us
to outperform the market. Additionally, our
focus on customer centricity will improve the
penetration of our differentiated products and
serviceswe have taken decisive action at Orica
and despite the market volatility we continued
to control those elements that we can. Our
transformation program has exceeded our
forecast, and more importantly 80% of the
benefits delivered are repeatable, long term
benefits. In the half year ended March 2016, we
delivered net benefits of A$52 million. Our
forecast is to deliver benefits of between A$70
and 80 million by the end of this financial year.
Given the persistent oversupply of ammonium
nitrate in Australia, we rationalised our supply,
with curtailed production out of our Yarwun
operation in Gladstone helping to balance the
Australian East Coast supply. We have continued
to strengthen our contract profile, locking in
volumes through the down cycle for better
certainty. We have also turned our attention to
defining our long-term, optimal initiation
systems supply network. Orica has a highly
geographically dispersed Initiation Systems
manufacturing footprint, which we need to
leverage more effectively for the benefit of our
customers and Orica, while not compromising
on the elements that are most important to our
customers - safety, reliability and quality.
To ensure we deliver against these factors we
have embarked on a project that will utilise our
highly automated plants, like those in Gyttorp
(Sweden) and Brownsburg (Canada), to produce
a high quality product, consistently and
He added that keeping in mind the supply
reliability requirements of its customers Orica is
also standardising its products where possible,
and obtaining the required certifications to
supply in all jurisdictions that its customers
operate in from all the manufacturing locations
in its global network. This delivers a number of

AUGUST 2016 | International Mining


benefits to our customers. They are assured of a
consistently high quality product, regardless of
where it is manufactured. As the products
become more standard, they also benefit from
even better security of supply as we will be able
to ship our products from any number of
manufacturing plants, all over the world, to meet
their needs.
On supporting this global approach he stated:
Supporting this will be a single, standard SAP
system that drives common processes and data.
This will deliver the required visibility of
performance across our landscapewhen you
consider our global footprint, this visibility of
performance translates into an invaluable source
of intelligence for us. We have people in more
locations than anyone else some 450 mine
sites across every type of market and operation,
from developing economies through to highly
mature, sophisticated markets and operations.
We undertake around 1,500 blasts around the
world, every day. This means we have an
expansive big data collection and knowledge
base that can be fully leveraged to link customers
sites and regions and enable the very best in
knowledge transfer. We see this as a key
differentiator for us and continue to leverage it
further by investing around three times more
than our competitors in R&D. We consider this
investment necessary and can demonstrate how
this leads to improved productivity for our
customers through advanced blasting services,
data recording, management and analysis for
optimal productive blasting results. This translates
into real value for our customers. For example, by
improving fragmentation in gold operations we
have helped our customers reduce their power
consumption and therefore their unit costs.

emulsion as it is being loaded into the blast hole,

enabling the operator to load multiple densities
of gassed emulsion into the same hole and
match the geology characteristics of the ground.
The mine had the challenge of blasting
through a variety of different geologies from very
hard rock to softer rock. Due to this, the blast
crew loaded very high densities in the hard rock
and much lower densities in the softer rock to
maximise the efficiency of the blast. The attached
figures illustrate the different density variations
and the measured results of detonation velocity
(VOD) from one of the blasts.
The trial period was extended from three
months to six months during which over 109 trial
blasts were conducted to adequately measure air
quality, mine productivity, fragmentation and
diggability. Dyno states that the mine was able to
meet the following goals set forth at the
beginning of the trial:
n Safety: Differential Energy proved to be a
reliable and resilient product that provided
dependable results where no undetonated
blasting agent was found in the muck piles

Examples of the different density variations that

were used at the mine during the trial
n Air Quality: The number and severity of NOx
incidents were significantly reduced. This
allowed the mine to consider revising its air
quality permit to allow for larger blast events
n Productivity: Switching to Differential Energy
allowed the mine to go from using two bulk
trucks to a single truck that can load both wet
and dry holes. The Differential Energy truck
provided a faster turnaround time and a
larger capacity allowing for more holes to be
loaded per cycle
n Fragmentation and Diggability: Oversized and
floor grade problems were noticeably
reduced. There were no physical
measurements of fragmentation, but drill and
blast managers and shovel operators
observed a noticeable improvement in dig
Since the trial (now over a year later), Dyno
says the mine has fully adopted Differential
Energy technology, using 100% Titan 1000 and

Dyno success with differentional energy

Global explosives player Dyno Nobel has
announced successful results of a trial taking
place at a surface molybdenum mine in the US.
The mine agreed to an initial three month trial
using Dyno Nobels Differential Energy ()
technology. The goal was to improve safety,
particularly through NOX reduction, along with
improving blast performance with fragmentation,
oversize and hard toes. Dyno states: By
switching to Differential Energy the mine met
every goal they set out to accomplish, which
resulted in lowering their overall production
To help address the problems the mine was
having, Dyno Nobel employed its Titan 1000
technology. Prior to the trial, the mine was
loading dry holes with a 30/70 mixture (30%
emulsion and 70% ANFO) and wet holes with
100% gassed emulsion. The Dyno Nobel
Differential Energy system allows blasters to
accurately vary the density of chemically gassed

International Mining | AUGUST 2016

Results of detonation velocity measurements for one of the blasts


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no longer uses ANFO. Dyno Nobels Differential
Energy technology enabled the mine to
redistribute the explosive energy in the blast
hole, distributing the accurate amount of energy
throughout the hole, varying the detonation
pressure. This process reduced NOx, improved
fragmentation, reduced oversize and hard toes
and increased productivity while reducing overall

MAXAM increases influence in

As part of a broad tender for services and
products, MAXAM Australia was recently selected
as the sole provider of blasting solutions for Mt
Carlton and Cowal gold mines, both managed by
Evolution Mining, now Australias second biggest
gold producer.
Mt Carlton, located approximately 130 km
south of Townsville on the north-east coast of
Australia, comprises two open pit zones: the
main large gold dominant deposit and the
smaller silver rich deposit. In operation since
2013 and expected to produce between 80,000
oz and 87,500 oz of gold this year, Mt Carlton is
one of Evolution Minings key gold mines in the
state of Queensland (Australia), where Evolution
is the top gold producer. MAXAM will supply all
blasting solutions for the next three (with options
to extend) years, providing down the hole
services by supplying its flagship RIOFLEX bulk
explosive together with a complete range of
RIONEL initiation systems.
Additionally, MAXAM is building a customised
Mobile Service Unit (MSU) to specifically adapt
to the sites surface mining conditions involving
difficult terrain contours. To provide the best
possible service, it has also built an on-site
storage and reload facility to optimise
performance and reduce service delivery time.
Cowal gold mine, situated 350 km west of
Sydney in the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri
people on the south-east coast of Australia,
began operations in 2005. The mine is an open
pit operation with production from a number of
different faces within the single pit. Having
produced 268,000 oz of gold in 2014, Evolution
acquired 100% ownership of the Cowal project in
2015 and MAXAM Australia will be the sole
supplier of blasting solutions for the Cowal gold
mine for the next three years, providing its
RIOFLEX bulk explosive together with a wide
range of initiation systems and RIONEL products.
MAXAM has nine employees working on-site
and will also provide support through the
presence of MAXAMs senior technical
applications services designed to assist with
blasting timing and product stewardship training.
This site will also be equipped with a custombuilt RIOFLEX MSU to respond to Evolutions
needs more effectively.
International Mining | AUGUST 2016

Overall, MAXAM
currently is the sole
blasting solutions and
services supplier for three
of Evolution Minings
seven gold mine
operations in Australia: Mt
Carlton, Cowal and also
Edna May (350 km east of
MAXAM said it is
becoming an integrated
provider of blasting
solutions, principally by
focusing on all-round
energy optimisation
systems a structured
process approach tailored
to customer requirements
in various markets.
MAXAMs proven
experience carrying out
similar projects within
Australia and around the
world Worsley Alumina
(Western Australia),
Kanmantoo (South
Australia), Hidden Valley (PNG), Tasiast
(Mauritania), Oyu Tolgoi (Mongolia) or Polyus
(Russia) - makes it a natural fit for Evolution
Minings operations. With production plants
located on all five continents, the MAXAM global
logistics system strengthens the companys
ability to supply state-of-the-art products to meet
a wide variety of challenges, while its in-house
developed technology ensures conditions that
are both safe and efficient.
First launched in 1998, RIOFLEX is MAXAMs
flagship explosive, developed with the companys
own in-house R&D which it says is key to
MAXAMs technological independence. Thanks
to its versatility and high energy, RIOFLEX has
consistently delivered exceptional results for
MAXAMs clients worldwide. Its effective in both
cartridge and bulk formats, can be used in
extreme dry or wet conditions and has the proven
ability to be deployed across an extreme
temperature range.
MAXAM has been operating in Australia since
1988, when one of its predecessor companies,
ERT, acquired ETS, a small, local company. Today,
MAXAM employs over 150 people in the country.
Since its establishment in Australia, the
company has supplied products and blasting
services to large mining and extraction
companies such as Holcim and Hanson, and has
achieved a majority share in the quarry market,
with key mining clients throughout the country.
With its headquarters in Brisbane and production
facilities in Bajool (Queensland) and Baldivis
(Western Australia), MAXAM Australia provides

A successfully planned blast using BMEs AXXIS

Electronic Detonator system
technical assistance services and products (civil
explosives and initiation systems) to large mining
and quarrying companies throughout Australia.

Hanwha building influence on world

There are now some new entrants into the
international mining explosives and blasting
services sector such as South Koreas Hanwha
Corp, which believes it has the technical
experience and corporate scale to take on the top
players. Whilst not that well known yet on the
international stage, by building on more than six
decades of success of experience in commercial
explosives in Korea and Asia, it is gaining
footholds in the international market with its
hybrid of Korean and international management.
Hanwha has a lot of experience in detonator and
high explosives manufacture, as well as
packaged emulsion manufacture and latterly of
bulk emulsions and down-the-hole services.
Hanwha is supplying mining explosives services
and distributing mining explosive products in
Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Chile and Central
America to date and plans to start operating in
the US this year. The Head of Hanwha Mining
Services, Patrick Kennedy told IM: we are
gearing offers to meeting customers needs,
particularly in light of the tough commodity
conditions, which are flexible and fit for


Hanwha says its lowdensity range is creating

quite a lot of customer
interest and success
where it is being used

Hanwha offers a broad range of bulk

explosives, but in particular, Kennedy says its
low-density range is creating quite a lot of
customer interest and success where it is being
used. Kennedy states: Broadly speaking if a
mine could use low cost ANFO, it would. The
introduction of water in the hole adds substantial
cost in generic high density emulsion based
products. Our hybrid range provides water proof
explosives at densities towards ideal ANFO whilst
not compromising on effective energy. This is
compelling in total cost management for our
customers. These low-density products can be
loaded below the density typically deployed by
other players. The industry is becoming far more
aware of cost per hole, not just cost per tonne,
hence truly evaluating the real total cost. Our
bulk range is a market leader on this key metric.
The low-density products offer customers the
ability to achieve the desired outcomes using
less explosives. We have simple calculators for
our customers to use in any evaluation which
clearly demonstrates this point of difference.
These products also remove the variability of
chemical gassing and enable stemming and
decking directly after loaded with no wait times.
Also, these products have an inherent
stability, which leads to excellent fume control. In
addition, Hanwha does not operate large-scale
ammonium nitrate plants and therefore is
unconstrained when offering customers products

which are less reliant on porous ammonium

nitrate prills.
Kennedy adds: Technology is still very
important to customers, but they do not want to
pay for excessive R&D programs, nor should they.
I think technology is better in the blasthole and
not sitting in a laboratory. Also running
businesses with lean structures in line with our
customers is something that we think is
important. Nobody can afford to carry
unnecessary overheads and it certainly quickens
customers responses and discussion making.

BME technology response to energy

Rocketing electricity prices are leading many
mines to look at ways of
reducing the energy
consumed by loading,
crushing and milling
equipment through better
blasting techniques that
deliver finer fragmentation.
A 300% increase in the
price paid by mines for
electricity since 2008 now
means that some 20% of a
South African gold mines

costs are accounted for by electricity,according

to Joe Keenan, Managing Director of explosives
supplier, BME. In turn, global studies estimate
that about 45% of electricity on hard rock mines
is consumed by crushing and milling equipment.
Keenan said that conserving energy in the
loading, crushing and milling stages of
production has therefore become imperative, and
one of the most effective ways of doing this was
to improve blasting efficiency.
In recent years, a number of mines have seen
the benefit of increasing plant productivity by
increasing powder factors and applying blasting
products such as accurate electronic delay
detonators in their blasting, he said. The
traditional approach of trying to cut costs by
reducing powder factors in blasting is giving way;
in its place is the concept of blast result targets
such as fragmentation outcome.
According to Keenan, one of the problems
facing mine management is that drill and blast
costs are easily measured while the increased
downstream energy costs caused by poor
blasting results are much more difficult to
So it is unsurprising that there tends to be
greater focus on reducing drill and blast costs
without realising the negative impact this has on
other processes, he said.
It is now well recognised that modern blasting
techniques can reduce losses caused by ore
dilution and poor liberation of minerals in the
plant processes helping to increase mine
profitability and reduce overall mining costs.
Tony Rorke, Technical Director of BME, said
there are definite energy-saving goals that these
techniques can help achieve, including lower
energy consumption by crushers, grinders and

Tony Rorke, BME

Technical Director

AUGUST 2016 | International Mining


excavators alongside benefits like improved
mineral liberation, maximised digging rates, and
increased bucket payload.
BME says it has also been a pioneer in the
field of electronic detonation, developing the
AXXIS digital initiation system which has
become an industry standard and which was
recently released in an updated GII version.
Using the AXXIS system, electronic detonators
can be programmed for ignition within
milliseconds of each other, to suit operator needs
and the particular geology of the rock.
This level of timing accuracy allows for
optimal interaction of the shock-waves between
adjacent blastholes, so that fragmentation is
enhanced, said Rorke. For instance, crusher
throughput and power consumption are strongly
influenced by blast fragmentation distribution.
He said a reduction in coarser fragmentation
increases crusher throughput and an increase in
finer fragmentation results in more material bypassing the primary and secondary crushing
circuits, with less energy being consumed in the
crushing process.
Similarly, feed size distribution has a
significant effect on autogenous and semiautogenous mills, he said. The grinding
mechanism in autogenous mills is one where
larger fragments are ground down whilst smaller
fragments are crushed by the larger ones. If the
mill-feed contains too few coarser particles, the
mill efficiency and throughput drops rapidly.
Research also shows that additional macroand micro-fracturing within individual fragments
from the blasting makes fragments easier to
fracture further, using less energy in the crushing
and grinding phase.
Enhancing the versatility of electronic detonation
has been BMEs range of software and hardware
advances, says the group. While the AXXIS system
has improved safety, ease of use, robustness and
accuracy of blast timing, the company also developed
the BlastMap computer software program now in
its third generation of improvement.
Used together with AXXIS, BlastMap III gives
customers optimal blast results and makes
blasting much more efficient, said Rorke. It
allows the fine-tuning of blast parameters that
include vibration control, fragmentation
optimisation, dilution control, heave control, and
specialised blasting scenarios.

Underground remote detonation

Becker Varis says it has always been committed
to providing the best communication, automation
and service in the industry and since 1996 its
smartcom leaky feeder system has gained it a
very positive international reputation in
underground mining. It is also the backbone for
many system add-ons including the smartblast
product line. Working in conjunction with the
International Mining | AUGUST 2016

The latest addition to

the smartblast
products, the 1673
series, has the
capability of
programming up to
64 remotes to one
single controller
leaky feeder system,
smartblast provides
full two-way blast
control for
underground and
surface applications.
The company
states: The first
smartblast system
was commissioned a
decade ago and
Becker Varis hasnt
looked back having installed numerous systems
worldwide and counting. It all started with the
rugged 1670 series smartblast which provides a
simple to use remote detonation package of up
to eight remotes per controller. And the 1670 did
not disappoint as customers have calculated
return on investment within six months on
reduced maintenance costs alone as it eliminates
the need to maintain a separate central blast
cable system, not to mention the numerous
safety benefits.
The latest addition to the smartblast products,
the 1673 series, has the capability of
programming up to 64 remotes to one single
controller which eliminates the need for multiple
controllers when more than eight remotes are
required. The 1673 series also has many added
features such as a history event log with backlit
LCD display, post blast confirmation, sequential
firing and increased firing capacity. The history
event log keeps a record of information such as
unit state, post blast motion detect value, firing
voltage level, battery level and the date and time
the event was logged. Each remote is equipped
with a sensor that measures the seismic motion
that may be expected when a successful blast
detonation has occurred and reports this
information back to the controller which can be
useful in underground applications when a blast
cannot be easily detected.

electronic detonator design tools, conditional

design and charging templates, importing and
exporting options, bootleg validation, surface
generation, and a stand-alone version. The
company states: With an estimated 2-3% of the
worlds total energy required for comminution,
the need to optimise fragmentation and
associated costs while maintaining a safe working
environment should not be underestimated.
HxGN Blast allows simple configuration of
consumables that are used on site within its
Blast consumable library. The consumable library
is configurable to suit any chosen equipment
supplier, which takes into account the large range
of providers and different equipment options.
Estimated cumulative particle size is displayed
as a curve detailing the size distribution. Blasting
and design parameters can be adjusted to
optimise the fragmentation, which potentially
improves all downstream processes, including
energy consumption, maintenance costs, safety,
and efficiency at the mine.
The ability to assign multiple decks is another
new feature within HxGN Blast. This is
particularly useful when a coal seam or weakness
seams are being blasted. Decks are set up in the
Blast Project configuration area and are
consequently assigned in the charging template.
Timing options are also available for each

Hexagon HxGN continues

to enhance blast planning
HxGN Blast optimises the design
and execution of drill and blast
plans from within the MineSight
3D mining environment and
Hexagon Mining says that the
software module has continued
to receive significant
enhancements such as
fragmentation analysis tools,

HxGN can display several strings or channels

connecting the blast design


integrated ARC (Advanced Reporting and
Charting) reporting functionality.
HxGN Blast is now enhanced with the
integration of RBF surfaces, similar to those
generated in MineSight Implicit Modeler. This
instant surface generation is invaluable in many
blasting scenarios, such as exporting a water
table or mapping hardness layers.
The HxGN Blast suite improves an operation by
seamlessly integrating all departments in the
blast process. It closes the loop in the drill and
blast world, providing design, execution, and
evaluation by delivering timely feedback to the
engineer both pre- and post-drilling.

Drill and Blast features in Pitram

MICROMINEs fleet management and mine
control solution, Pitram, allows mine operators
greater control through the visual format,
extensive planning capabilities and increased
scheduling functionality. One of the features of
the Pitram solution is the Drill and Blast
Management module which focuses on the
planning stage of the drilling and blasting
process as well as providing real time information
on the quality and quantity of resource being
taken out of the ground.
A key feature of the Drill and Blast module is
the planning and scheduling functionality which
allows for more control over your mining

operation. In terms of the drilling and blasting

process, this feature allows users to see planned
drill holes, if they are ready to be charged, the
amount of stocks that have been removed and
the remaining stock available at any given time.
With such a huge focus on optimisation around
mine sites, a feature that allows for the planning
and scheduling of your operation is a must
Optimisation is also achieved through Pitrams
extraction and ore removal monitoring which
assists with the control over the resources you
are mining. This control allows mine operators to
know exactly what they are taking out of the
ground, the quantities they have left and what
quality it is. The Drill and Blast module also has
grade dilution awareness capabilities that are
assisted through the GNSS guidance. Working
in conjunction with MICROMINEs 3D mine design
solution, Micromine, Pitrams accurate plotting of
drill holes assists in reducing the chance that
dilution will occur. Knowing when grade dilution
begins to occur helps the mine operator know
that it is time to move onto the next drilling hole
and not pursue cost inefficient grades which
again is key in the pursuit of cost efficiency.
Pitram focuses on the presentation of the
production cycle data in visual format as
MICROMINE believes the visual representation
allows geologists to have an easier

The downhole view displays a charged blast

hole with separated decks and two
independent electronic detonators (red discs)
individual sub-shot. HxGN Blasts user-friendly
interface enables this to be carried out efficiently.
The toolbar offers a vast array of industrystandard timing templates for electronic
detonators, such as; chevron/V formation,
rectangle, oval, diamond, or manually digitised in
the viewer.
Intervals can store actual information such as
actual penetration rates, explosive amount, water
level, and drill time. Once imported to HxGN
Blast, they become properties of the hole and
can be used to create Reports using the

A Drill and Blast screen from


AUGUST 2016 | International Mining


understanding of what is occurring and therefore
allowing for greater control of the mine. The
safety aspects of a visual format are also
beneficial in a mining operation. As drilling and
blasting presents many dangers to workers,
knowing what hole is about to be blasted or
drilled assists the mine operator their workers
are clear from any potential dangers.
Pitram also has enhanced planning and
scheduling functionality, a feature which allows
for more control over your mining operation. The
High Precision GPS ensures the accurate
measure of drill holes, ensuring that errors are
reduced to a minimum. This in turn assists in the
planning and scheduling of the drill and blast
process as the reduction of errors allows mine
operators to plan this phase of the operation with
confidence and as the Carlson software is utilised
in other stages of the mining process, the
efficiency of the planning process is increased as
the software continues to help reduce errors.

Blast fragmentation analysis

WipWare recently released its latest software
that allows users to analyse blast fragmentation
in the field instantly, with no scaling object
required. Available through the iTunes app store,
WipFrag iOS 3.0 uses advanced trigonometry to
automatically scale the pile of interest,
drastically improving the analysis speed and
reducing the risk of injury when manually
placing scaling objects for reference. Simply
capture the image with your iPad or iPhone, use
WipFrags superior edge detection parameters,
and output your sieve results to the cloud for
easy viewing.
Don Collier of Wesco Explosives is one of over
400 users that have downloaded the WipFrag iOS
software: The WipFrag IOS app has been a great
tool for my emulsion and electronic detonation
experiments, and I am amazed at how easy it is
to use.
Tony Young, the MailFrag service specialist at
WipWare, also offered a review of the iOS
software. Being able to use my finger or a stylus
to delineate the particles takes an image that
wouldve taken five minutes to analyse and
reduces that time down to one minute in most
WipFrag 3.0 also allows users to crossreference fragmentation results to specific areas
of the pit using enhanced GIS tracking
capabilities. This new information will shed light
on blasting performance and make it much easier
for companies to benchmark and optimise
blasting procedures.
Clients also have a seamless transition to
WipWares online technologies, by using their
iPad or Windows computer to remote control
their conveyor belt monitoring systems

International Mining | AUGUST 2016

WipFrag iOS 3.0 uses advanced trigonometry to

automatically scale the pile of interest

Further progress in alternatives to AN

For over 60 years the use of AN in commercial
explosives has been unchallenged; however,
CRCMining points out that ammonium nitrate has
some disadvantages, when AN based explosives
do not react efficiently due to a number of
uncontrollable and complex factors, harmful
nitrogen oxide fumes (NOx) can be generated.
Nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide can cause
serious health risks to persons exposed, with
excessive levels of NO2 also affecting the viability
of flora and root systems. Increased government
and media scrutiny of post blast fume generation
has had a direct impact on the mining industrys
license to operate.
Currently, engineering and administrative
controls exist to reduce the risk of the NOx
hazard. However in order to eliminate the hazard,
researchers from CRCMining and the School of
Mechanical and Mining Engineering of the
University of Queensland have developed and
tested an alternative explosive formulation. This
new formulation eliminates nitrogen oxide fume
emissions by using hydrogen peroxide as the
main oxidiser.
CRCMining project leader Dr Italo Onederra

EPC-Metrics offers a remote monitoring platform

for blast vibration and air over-pressure

says to date over 160 tests have been conducted

to characterise the detonation properties of this
new explosive. Results have shown velocities of
detonation between 2,200-5,500 m/s for a range
of densities (0.40-1.10 g/cc).
As part of the program, a prototype system
has been designed to enable the manufacture
and delivery of the product on site. Further tests
continue to quantify product stability and
compatibility with different ground conditions,
Dr Onederra said.
This new technology, which replaces
ammonium nitrate, could be a step-change for the
industry. It has the potential to offer different
alternatives and possibilities to mining companies.
It also provides an independent avenue to conduct
explosive and blasting technology research that
was previously the domain of explosive
manufacturers, Dr Onederra said.
The research is led by CRCMining and UQ with
funding from the Australian Coal Association
Research Program.

EPC-Metrics remote vibration

EPC-Metrics was recently launched at the
Hillhead quarrying exhibition by EPC-UK in
partnership with Datum Monitoring. The service
offers a remote monitoring platform for blast


vibration and air over-pressure. Unlike conventional
standalone seismographs where units must be
placed out each time with results manually
downloaded, remote system offer one-time setup
with instant data availability. The fixed stations
provide a consistent point of reference a crucial
part of generating reliable predictive models.
EPC-UK told IM: The EPC-Metrics service
offers remote, solar powered monitoring stations
for both short and long term projects. Remote
monitors can be installed at sensitive locations
around a blasting area. These can be configured
with customisable triggers, which once activated,
automatically send event data to cloud-based
service with results immediately published to the
web portal. The platform can be configured to
send alerts upon receipt of an event to
predefined users and user groups through email
and text message notification.

Reducing underground blasting costs

AEL Mining Services says it has successfully
demonstrated that it can reduce its customers
operational cost of blasting underground
significantly, by making use of the Vertical Drop
emulsion delivery system, which has a short
payback period. This is according to Ashworth
Chiringa, Regional Mining Engineer at AEL
Zimbabwe, who says mines are looking to their
suppliers to solve operational challenges to
remain competitive, such as drastically
reducing equipment costs and eliminating
operational downtime. The JSE-listed AECI
Group, of which AEL is a subsidiary, says it is
focused on delivering cost-effective solutions
to the mining industry during what has been a
challenging economic environment over the past
few years.
Projects such as the installation and
operation of the Vertical Drop emulsion delivery
system are all about adding value to the customer
through equipment and blast efficiencies, which
result in operational cost savings and increased
levels of output, says Chiringa.
The company says that the Vertical Drop
delivery system is fast becoming the globally
accepted best practice for the delivery of
emulsion to underground operations by
transporting these products safely through a
reticulation system of piping to an access point
adjacent to the workings. Chiringa says this
infrastructure is a perfect example of AELs
innovative approach and he highlights the

benefits that the Vertical Drop has provided to a

platinum mine in Zimbabwe, which has a
production rate of 1.8 Mt/y. The increase in
production and rapid advance of underground
workings at the mine in recent years had
increased the distance between the working
faces and surface mounted storage facility for
UG100 emulsion and the sensitiser, meaning
transportation was a long, expensive process.
Within an 18 month period, AEL equipped and
commissioned the Vertical Drop delivery system
at the mine. Tracking and reporting back on the
benefits and cost savings to the mine on a
monthly basis is currently in progress. Based on
the data, the mine will realise total annual
savings equivalent to 15% of the annual
explosives cost as the result of significant
reductions in fuel consumption and maintenance,
in addition to increased productivity.
The total daily travelling distance for Mobile
Charging Units has been dramatically decreased
from 200 km to 70 km, which equates to a
reduction of nearly 50% in annual fuel
consumption for these vehicles. Furthermore, we
expect the Vertical Drop to ensure there will be
zero postponed blasts, a challenge which saw

A Vertical Drop emulsion reticulation system has

been developed by AEL to enable emulsion and
sensitiser to be delivered through piping to
underground storage facilities adjacent to the
the mine losing about 800 production tonnes
daily last year due to emulsion or sensitiser
shortages. We calculate the increase in
productivity that arises as a result of zero
postponed blasts to be worth ZAR10.5 million
annually, Chiringa says.
The Vertical Drop also provides significant
safety enhancements because it reduces interface
time with explosives which are manufactured at
the working face during charging. Security is also
improved through the streamlined delivery
channels with seamless inventory control,
reducing the risk of explosives theft.
He concludes: The data on the efficiencies
provided by the Vertical Drop delivery system
speaks for itself as an example of finding
innovative solutions to our customers needs.
While it is clear this infrastructure can deliver real
value to a single mine, mining houses can realise
greater benefits by rolling out these systems
across their portfolios. IM

AUGUST 2016 | International Mining