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Digital journey in blasting supports mines’ sustainability

The quest to raise productivity on mines is relying increasingly on technological innovation and pushing the boundaries of blasting science has therefore been a priority for explosives and blasting leader BME, a member of the JSE-listed Omnia group.

Mining sustainability can be enhanced considerably by quality blasting, according to D. Scott Scovira, BME’s Global Manager for Blasting Science. The company’s technology offerings apply across the blast cycle from design and planning to initiation and analysis. BME has also just launched its global on-line technical services and solutions platform, enabling explosives users to consult with experienced explosive engineering professionals.

Scott Scovira
D. Scott Scovira, Global Manager: Blasting Science

“This service comes from BME’s in-house technical staff, and also from other recognised third-party specialists in blasting, mining and construction – with the aim of realising the best project outcomes for the client,” said Scovira. The initial on-line consultation to discuss and scope out a blasting project is free of charge, and the service is not limited to existing BME clients.

“Using our powerful BLASTMAP™ blast design software, mines can achieve optimal rock fragmentation to make their loading and comminution functions more economical,” he said. He also highlighted the value of BLASTMAP™ in understanding and managing burden relief times.

A pioneer with its AXXIS™ electronic detonation systems, BME has been continuously improving this technology for greater on-mine safety and productivity. The system allows the downloading of blasthole firing times from BLASTMAP™ into the AXXIS™ Logger – for quick and reliable detonator programming. Data from the AXXIS™ Logger can be analysed after the blast to ensure that the actual initiation matched the blast design.

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In southern Africa, AXXIS™ has been used by the leading copper producers to initiate record-size blasts – with 7,401 electronic delay detonators (EDDs) involved in a recent record blast. The system has also been well received in mining markets like Australia, where it has initiated record blasts in the coal sector.

According to Tinus Brits, BME’s Global Product Manager for AXXIS™, the latest version of the system – AXXIS TITANIUM™ – is due to be released to the global market this year. This version promises to be the most advanced electronic blast detonation system in the world, said Brits.

Tinus Brits
Tinus Brits, BME Global Product Manager for AXXIS™
Christiaan Liebenberg
Christiaan Liebenberg, BME Software Product Manager

“We are conducting final trials and evaluations in South Africa, and these have been successful so far,” he said. AXXIS TITANIUM™ boasts a unique three-in-one blasting box that can be configured as a controller, blaster and as a repeater.

A larger number of boxes can be easily linked, as well as many more detonators – to improve efficiencies in blasting and saving time and cost for customers. The system speeds up the logging process allowing on-bench logging and testing of up to 500 detonators.

The integration of BME’s technology with mine-wide platforms is a vital element of supporting the mining sector’s ongoing productivity drive, said Christiaan Liebenberg, BME’s Software Product Manager.

“The digital age calls for increased collaboration between technology providers for integrated solutions,” said Liebenberg. “It also means that mines and their suppliers will need to work in closer partnerships to develop and apply the systems for increasingly automated mining.”

He emphasised that higher levels of business optimisation can be achieved through gathering and processing real-time data from all mining assets.

“A key focus of BME’s development with digital tools for blasting operations is to leverage the value of real-time data on mines,” he said. “On the blasting side, this means integrating blast data with the mine’s digital systems.”

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