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Aussie blaster sets its sights on Africa

CORRECT BLASTING IS CRITICAL Successful drill and blast operations begin with the correct blast design – holes need to be drilled in the right place and to the right depth

SOLID SQUAD Action Drill & Blast’s blast engineers are highly skilled in various blast operations and aim to exceed production requirements

7th March 2014

By: Ilan Solomons

Creamer Media Staff Writer

  

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Australia-based drill and blast services provider Action Drill & Blast has developed significantly in Australia in the last four years, but the company told Mining Weekly at the Investing in African Mining Indaba that the time was right for expansion into Africa.

Action Drill & Blast international operations manager Paul Guthrie and business development manager Laurie Chew said that, as one of Australia’s fastest-growing drill and blast contractors, the company was actively expanding its drill fleet and skilled workforce to cater for additional growth in Australia and potentially in Africa.

“Our diverse fleet of drill rigs enable users to drill-blast holes from 64 mm to 270 mm in diameter. Our capability extends to providing drilling services for contour, restricted and production blast patterns,” explained Guthrie.

He added that the company’s range of drill systems included industrial group Atlas Copco’s rotary drill and rigs, as well as the rigs of mining and construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar.

Chew highlighted that the company’s drill equipment was serviced on a regular and scheduled basis to deliver a consistently high standard of work.

“With a new or fairly new fleet, our plant and maintenance team ensures that our equipment remains at optimal functioning levels,” he enthused.

Blast-Design Expertise

Guthrie explained that successful drill and blast operations began with the correct blast design, which meant that holes needed to be drilled in the right place and to the right depth, while also ensuring that the holes remained open long enough to be loaded.

“Without a well-designed blast, there will be significant increases in downstream costs, owing to slow or tight digging, the reworking of designs, increased crusher costs and significantly reduced crusher throughput,” he stated.

Moreover, Chew said that Action Drill & Blast’s team of shotfirers and blasting personnel were highly experienced in all commodity types that could be found in Australia, including coal, magnetite, hematite, gold and nickel. These minerals were also mined in many parts of Africa, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Botswana and Mozambique, he added.

“Our blast engineers are highly skilled in various blast operations and aim to exceed production requirements,” he asserted.

Chew added that the company’s blast teams were proficient in the use of blast-design and management software such as 2D Bench, the design, analysis and management software system from JKSimBlast.

“We understand that restricted blasting in close proximity to existing or working infrastructure and working in areas that are culturally or environmentally sensitive are aspects of blasting that require highly trained and experienced teams,” he highlighted.

Additionally, Guthrie noted that Action Drill & Blast worked with its clients to identify solutions, including the reduction of fumes, that result from blasting at coal projects.
 
QA and HSE

Chew emphasised that the company ensured the highest levels of quality assurance (QA) and health, safety and environment (HSE) practices to ensure that all holes were collared in the right spot, the angle holes had the right azimuth, all holes were dipped and that the QA sheet included detailed and accurate recordings that were handed to the blast crew to check that the loading matched the design.

He added that explosives supply, accessories and storage, as well as ancillary equipment – including explosive vehicles and equipment – formed a critical part of most of the company’s contracts.

“This enables us to deliver best-in-class results, as we build according to our own specification, which, in turn, enables us to modify the build to incorporate our HSE and efficiency innovations.”

Ground Support Services

Guthrie noted that Action Drill & Blast’s civil engineering division was staffed with highly qualified, specialist and experienced geotechnical crews who provided ground support services that might be required for tasks such as deep excavation or stabilising a rock face.

“We combine our drill and blast services with built-for-purpose drill support equipment and ground support services to deliver synergies in project delivery,” he added.

Guthrie highlighted that the company’s ability to use its own drill rigs and blasting equipment saved clients money that they would have spent on hiring other companies to individually carry out these tasks.

“Our high-quality performance in occupational health and safety and management systems, as well as our ability to leverage our specialist skills, will be well suited to furthering the development of projects in the African mining sector,” Chew concluded.

Edited by Samantha Herbst
Creamer Media Deputy Editor

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