The AXXIS Digital Initiation System from explosives company BME has been well received in Australia and is regarded highly in its mining sector, BME technical director Tony Rorke tells Mining Weekly.
“BME plays an active role in Australia’s mining sector through its partner, Australia-based blasting optimisation company Advanced Initiating Systems, mainly in providing AXXIS electronic detonators and the relevant specialised technical services,” he states.
The South African company entered the Australian market with its detonators in 2013 and has since been in partnership with Advanced Initiating Systems. “The Australian mining industry remains robust and is technically advanced, which makes it the ideal market for our AXXIS electronic detonators,” says Rorke.
BME, a leading supplier of bulk emulsion explosives to the South African opencast and underground mining sector, has a large footprint throughout Africa, and is strengthening and expanding its presence in the Australasian territories by actively working towards growing its customer base in the region.
The digital initiation system launched in 2011 was used in a world-record blast at the Queensland-based Daunia opencast coal mine in December last year.
The mine is owned by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, a joint venture between multinational mining company BHP Billiton and multinational automotive manufacturer Mitsubishi.
The blast involved the firing of 5 665 detonators from 2 683 blast holes. BME told Mining Weekly in May that the mine previously set a record for the largest AXXIS-controlled blast last year, when it successfully initiated 4 303 detonators in a single blast to break 2.8-million cubic metres of overburden.
“The company has been leading the way in terms of innovation in the field of explosives and detonators since its introducing cold emulsion products to the African market 30 years ago and, subsequently, higher levels of safety and productivity to the opencast sector.” Electronic detonators are an important technological development in which BME has played a role, he states, noting that the company’s developments have gone a long way in bringing such systems to the forefront of modern blasting technology. “The flexibility and accuracy of electronic detonators provide mining engineers with huge design and application benefits, thus, improving blasting efficiencies and reducing negative impacts such as vibration.”
“Emulsions have come a long way and are still evolving,” Rorke points out. BME offers a range of emulsions to meet customers’ specific site requirements, including emulsions that can be used in wet conditions or with reactive ground.”
He adds that the emulsion is regarded as a 5.1 oxidiser in terms of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, rather than as an explosive. Transporting the product is, therefore, simpler, as there are no stringent conditions under which transportation must take place. The emulsion is sensitised only when it is in the blast hole at the workface.
“The usual safety precautions and timeframes associated with moving explosives underground, such as clearing of mine cages and travelling ways, can be avoided. There is also much less labour involved and considerable savings in shaft cycles, as supplies do not need to be carried manually to the workface.”
Developing innovations for underground mining has been a major focus for BME over the past two years and it has been applying safer and more stable emulsion technology to narrow reef operations, Rorke highlights.
In a world first, he says, in 2015 Australian and African gold resource company Gold One’s Modder East mine, in South Africa, was the first mine to be fully converted to pumped emulsion in underground operations. BME also installed the world’s longest vertical pipeline – 318 m from surface to underground – for delivering emulsion directly to the underground storage tanks, Rorke explains.
Investing in Innovation
The company has a dedicated blasting science unit that conducts ongoing research and development to enhance BME’s products and services to deliver greater value for its customers through improved efficiency, safety and productivity levels.
“An area where BME’s high-level technical capacity is ensuring ongoing progress is in predicting the blast result so that a mine can optimise designs to achieve the results that best suit the equipment available to dig the muck pile. Complex models are developed and extensively tested to ensure that predictions are correct,” Rorke states.
He highlights that there is also considerable interest in using drones to help capture blast- related data at opencast mines, as well as in the data in modelling and blasting software, which, in turn, allows for the quality of blasting to be enhanced.
BME also offers its Blast Map III software for planning, designing and analysing blasts, along with providing an extensive range of equipment to manufacture, deliver and apply its bulk emulsions.
The company also supplies mobile manufacturing units for surface mining and quarrying applications, stemming trucks, cruiser charging units, portable charging units for underground use, development charging units, modularised emulsion plants and bulk technical support vehicles.