Explosives and blasting company BME remains at the forefront in innovation with its modern electronic detonators, explosives and advanced technical services for optimising blast results and productivity on display at a platinum mining project in Limpopo.
Involvement in the project led to the development and implementation of the use of high-energy emulsion explosives, says BME Africa operations GM Albie Visser.
AXXIS was a system developed in-house by BME for surface-level and underground mining and is a fully programmable, accurate and simple electronic delay detonator system. The system focuses on safety and offers a full two-way communication between the blasting box and detonators. Using the AXXIS system, one can program AXXIS detonators to fire accurately at any time between 0 ms and 15 000 ms at one ms intervals.
“The technology used in this project from BME and our clients has seen the development into the AXXIS Titanium which is BME’s new premium detonator system. It will be introduced to Africa, Indonesia, the US and Australia this year and will help expand business in Australia into hard-rock mining and specialist applications,” he states.
“The AXXIS electronic delay detonator system and use of high-energy emulsion explosives demonstrated the transition from shock tube assemblies and blended explosives to modern blasting techniques to improve the fragmentation and wall control for the mine,” says Visser.
“This mine is at the forefront of receiving our new products, such as the latest AXXIS Titanium system, as they are being introduced. “With the rapid changes and progress in science and technology, electronic detonators are in continuous development, and BME will continue to develop new features and capabilities for its detonator systems,” he states.
Range of Explosives Products
BME has been involved in the platinum mining project for more than ten years, having supplied various explosives, electronic detonators and technical services for optimising blast results and productivity.
Other products supplied to the mining project include BME’s straight emulsion brand and priming charges.
The drilling and blasting configuration at the openpit mine is based on large-diameter drill holes of 311 mm to 18 m depths filled with BME’s INNOVEX 100 series straight emulsion.
Blasting would then be initiated by the 800 g VIPER BOOSTERS initiating system using the AXXIS GII electronic delay detonators.
“The success of this blasting recipe, using a straight emulsion with the VIPER BOOSTERS, has resulted in BME’s gaining significant market share in the Northern Cape iron-ore opencast mining sector since we’ve introduced it at this mine. The innovative blasting practice challenges historic methods of blended product used at these mines,” emphasises Visser.
He explains that the advantages of using a straight emulsion product is the simplicity and dependability of the Mobile Manufacturing Unit (MMU), which delivers explosives to the blast holes. Visser claims that the unit is more reliable, and less capital intensive than those associated with the blended product.
Visser emphasises that the use of products and systems such as this over the course of BME’s involvement with the mine has led to increased-focus on the user-experience in the development of new technologies.
This includes capabilities to provide immense flexibility, enabling clients to design and achieve the best-suited blast timing consistently and providing significant improvements in profitability and cost savings.
Nevertheless, owing to the innovative techniques used with this kind of technology, Visser emphasises the challenge in eliciting user buy-in.
“The operators on the ground generally trust conventional methods and resist changes and applying new techniques for explosives and blasting. The interest from our clients in this technology is a major factor in establishing these technologies,” states Visser.
Data Use in Explosives
“Emerging digital technologies are contributing positively to advances in mine blasting and explosives applications,” says Visser.
“Data management and analysis in real-time are the most important technological trends. Mines need real-time feedback on mining and charging processes, as well as blasting activity. The aim is ultimately to automate as much of the processes as possible, such as drilling, charging and loading, through real-time data management.”
BME has developed a range of tools that assist with real-time data management, including the logging of charging processes in underground and surface operations to central servers using WiFi installed in these underground operations and mobile phone technology on surface mines.
BME’s AXXIS system records all logging and timing information that enables clients secure and reliable access at any time.
BME’s XPLOLOG Surface platform also has the ability to allow for real-time data management. The platform gathers real-time data and presents it to related management to make decisions about blast preparation quality.
“It has been successfully implemented in Zambia and part of the Northern Cape, and is being fully integrated with our MMU control system. In addition, BME is adding real-time kinetics to accurately determine blast hole positions with the benefit of using real-time data from the blasting and loading operations. This is available to BME and our clients for blast optimisation.”
Using this real-time kinetics technique, BME can determine GPS accuracy of up to 0.2 m. Integrating more data from the unit’s GPS data, truck telemetry information and drone data can also be performed.
The XPLOLOG platform consists of a mobile device and website dashboard that integrates with a cloud-hosted database.
The platform also integrates with BME’s BLASTMAP III software, which is used for designing blast timing for use with AXXIS. BLASTMAP allows design of the blasts from hole layouts to charge quantities, deck charging and blast timing.
“This integration of data allows you to use the powerful blasting simulation and prediction modules in BLASTMAP III to further analyse and improve blast outcomes using real data,” he says.
“We, as suppliers, need to prove the benefit of these technologies to ensure the sustainability of the technologies to maintain and increase market share,” he concludes.