Explosives and blasting systems provider Orica announced last month that its innovative fragmentation measurement technology FRAGTrack was awarded a Good Design accolade in the engineering category, for outstanding design and innovation.
The yearly Good Design Awards recognise and celebrate products or services that have shown excellence in design innovation and impact.
FRAGTrack is an automated fragmentation measurement device that accurately and reliably measures rock size and fragmentation after the blasting stage in mining and quarrying.
“For these sites, optimal fragmentation can greatly reduce energy consumption, improve equipment productivity, and increase production rates. [It also] removes the need for manual sampling to keep team members safe,” the release stated.
The Good Design Awards jury said: “This is an innovative design that has the potential to improve commercial and safety outcomes in the mining and extractive industries that use drill and blast techniques. An excellent piece of engineering design using scanning and multicamera technologies with extensive software engineering in a highly innovative application.”
Orica noted that, while conventional methods and technologies for fragmentation measurement are prone to operator bias and an inability to operate in harsh mining environments, FRAGTrack captures, analyses and reports real-time data digitally. It can also be fully installed and upgraded remotely.
“This is a clever solution to the tedious problem of quantifying fragmentation after blasting. “It ruggedises cameras and processors to survive in harsh mining and environmental conditions. A solid piece of industrial and engineering design that deserves to be recognised and celebrated.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the team, Orica Digital Solutions VP Rajkumar Mathiravedu acknowledged: “We’ve been able to develop this unique digital solution by combining more than 20 years of customer input, internal expertise and collaborations with market-leading specialists Design Anthology, Newie Ventures and Your Engineer Mechanical Design to make it a reality. This award is recognition of the extraordinary people and partners behind this innovative and value delivering technology.”
He added that throughout the development process Orica listened to its customers’ needs, and subsequently evolved the design and engineering, delivering real impact and outcomes for them. “It’s what makes this such a unique and impactful innovation, especially as our customers strive for greater competitive advantage in these challenging times.”
Meanwhile, in August, Orica announced that its wireless initiation system WebGen aided Brazil-based Nexa Vazante (owned by mining and smelting company Nexa Resources) in significantly reducing ore dilution from 27% to 20%, resulting in a net benefit of $1.59-million.
“The single blast event achieved a smaller hydraulic radius by keeping the pillar during the stope extraction, which, in turn, resulted in a reduced cycle time to 20 days, down 70% from an expected 90 days by maintaining two mucking access points to the main stope, [which was] only possible [because of] the wireless capability of WebGen.”
The “unique” blasting approach dramatically improved safety by preloading the pillar with WebGen, minimising personnel exposure by removing the need to re-enter the area.
Nexa Vazante chief mining engineer Mateus Ribeiro said: “Thanks to this technology and partnership, we recovered an island rib pillar, which is a pillar kept in the open stope for dilution control. After all the ore from the block was extracted and the pillar had completed its requirement, the preloaded holes were successfully initiated remotely.”
Further, “the blast happened two levels below us, so we are 400 m away, above the shot. All encoded signals were sent through the rock with the safety protocols to fire the blast being followed.”
The mine primarily used vertical retreat mining and long hole open stope as the main methods for ore extraction, and traditionally deployed wired initiators in the recovery of ore, typically yielding around 60% ore recovery in the pillars. The application of wired initiators also required increased resources and time in the mine.
In 2019, Orica proposed the implementation of WebGen wireless initiating technology at Vazante to support the team in mitigating the operational and safety challenges of the mine.
Enabled by the wireless technology, ore within the pillars can be recovered through preloading without the need to return to the open stope. With the introduction of WebGen, the mine was able to gain time in the sequencing of the blast and extract ore previously inaccessible while improving its operating productivity.