The fate of mining does not lie in the hands of mines alone, everyone involved in the mining supply chain must accept that the recovery and future of the industry relies on the best value creation at every step in that chain, emphasises South Africa-based cold emulsion explosives innovator BME.
Therefore, every service provider must ensure that solutions are not only novel, but predictable and repeatable under any conditions irrespective of where in the world they are offered.
BME MD Joe Keenan states that BME continues to respond to potential in global markets; however, its strategy remains driven by the sobering acceptance that unless every blast can help customers become more sustainable, “we are not part of the long-term solution”. This means that the same high-quality blast is achieved everywhere, no matter how far the client is from BME’s nerve centre in Gauteng, he adds.
The company asserts that working daily with customers in the field, it is constantly testing and improving its products and services on the basis that every intervention must add value. However, simultaneously also working to ensure that it is easy to do business with BME as well.
For this reason, the company is developing an enterprise resource planning system that gives it end-to-end transparency in the way it works to ensure all its customers, everywhere, experience the same level of service and excellence.
“Consolidating our position in Africa, we have appointed both a business development manager and an account manager for Africa as part of our efforts to enhance the scalability of our high-quality service offering as we grow further into these markets,” cites Keenan.
He adds that the vast distances between sites and suppliers in some regions highlight the need for simplicity of equipment, manufacturing and maintenance.
Driving much of the interest in BME from international markets is its AXXIS digital initiation system, developed in-house to leverage the accuracy and effectiveness of electronic detonators – also manufactured by BME. The system enables customers to plan and conduct complex blast timing sequences, leading to better blasting results that help reduce a range of operational costs.
Keenan explains that improved throw and fragmentation, for instance, make for more efficient loading and crushing, saving substantially on items like wear parts and energy consumption. The AXXIS system also allows for larger and, therefore, fewer blasts in the mining cycle, which means less disruption and costly downtime. BME points out that it holds the world record for the largest ‘electronic blast’ to date which took place at the Daunia opencut coal mine, in Australia, owned by coal miner and exporter BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.
“Our permanent state of innovation recently led BME to formally establish a Blasting Science unit which is dedicated to applying our hi-tech know-how to solutions in the field,” adds Keenan.
He explains that among its various projects is a new AXXIS centralised blasting system that brings the benefits of AXXIS to the underground market. This system will allow mines to blast all underground workings simultaneously, at a time when everyone is safely removed from the workings, ensuring higher productivity through avoiding multiple blasts and stoppages.
Additionally, the company has also developed and implemented the longest vertical emulsion delivery pipeline to feed an underground mine through a pipe system from surface.
At 318 m in length, the pipeline solution is made possible by the particular stability of BME’s emulsion, which allows multiple repumping stages with no degradation. “Further tests make us confident we could install systems like these to depths of up to 2 000 m,” notes BME.
Keenan points out that BME’s solutions are driven by the sector’s demand for constantly improved efficiencies and have been integrated in-house using underground infrastructure. This includes BME’s portable charging unit – which brings the benefits and safety features of emulsion explosives to the underground mining environment – and its new Blastlog monitoring and reporting system to record blasting efficiency underground. Blastlog sends data from underground to an information network on the surface, using a pump control system, a remote and a tablet.
“Unless mines can become more productive and efficient, we all stand to lose. As partners in this global endeavour, BME offers its best minds to create value through practical and easy-to-use technology. The message from the mining sector is now clear and emphatic: to succeed is to innovate,” he concludes.