Blasting technology is moving mining towards a more sustainable future, a trend spurred by the recent launch of blast services provider BME’s Blast Alliance brand on April 1, says BME MD Joe Keenan.
Member of the JSE-listed Omnia group, BME announced during the launch that the Blast Alliance brand would comprise BME’s portfolio of digital innovations, including the BLASTMAP planning software, the BME Blasting guide application and the XPLOLOG cloud data platform.
“Our new Blast Alliance brand represents the company’s journey of digital innovation and the collaborative approach we take in this exciting process. This collaboration must be holistic and we’ll be partnering in three arenas: internally to optimise our solutions, through direct engagement with our customers and working with third-parties as needed.”
Keenan adds that providing BME’s software and solutions portfolio with its own brand and identity will assert a unique market position, underpinned by the company’s robust spirit of enterprise and the highest levels of integrity.
BME marketing and brand manager Michelle Fedder emphasises that introducing the brand is part of enhancing BME’s reputation as a technology and innovation-orientated partner.
“Blast Alliance provides our software portfolio with its own values, character, essence and value proposition. From a marketing perspective, the brand assures our customers of collaborative, innovative and integrated digital and automated solutions that can further enhance their value chains,” she says.
The portfolio will adapt and evolve with key solutions as needs are identified, adds BME software product manager Christiaan Liebenberg, who notes that the company will apply its growing depth of digital and technological expertise to inform this evolution.
“We are delivering flexibility, fluidity and future-facing solutions to our customers. A key focus here is the integration of our technology with mine-wide platforms as part of the drive to support mining’s ongoing productivity efforts. Our initiatives also leverage digital technology to allow for greater availability of real-time data,” he says.
As clients’ operational processes and mining environments differ, based on the manner, rate and type of data recording and analysis, BME offers customisations to its software solutions. The brand’s flexibility, therefore, enables clients to operate at maximum productivity levels, states Keenan.
BME’s software offering also includes enhanced efficiency and safety, minimised risk through predictability and further reducing costs, and the promotion of data-driven, real-time decision-making, thereby enhancing process optimisation.
Training on all software is provided, but on-site training depends on a client’s location, with training generally conducted by a product specialist online.
BME blasting science global manager Scott Scovira explains that mines can achieve optimal rock fragmentation to make their loading and comminution functions more economical using the BLASTMAP blast design software.
The AXXIS system allows for the downloading of blasthole firing times from BLASTMAP into the AXXIS logger for quick and reliable detonator programming. Data from the logger can be analysed after the blast to ensure that initiation matched the blast design.
The XPLOLOG is a mobile device for hole and deck data capturing. Blast plans can be accessed on site through the XPLOLOG data logger. Blast information captured by the device can then be compared with planned values for mines to make informed decisions, based on accurate information collected from its blasts.
When these innovations are brought together by teams of blasting experts, steady improvements are achieved that reflect quickly on a mine’s bottom line. The drive for larger blasts – where the mine’s scale and geology allow for them – has several benefits for an operation, notes BME technology and marketing GM Ralf Hennecke.
The larger the blast, the less often blasting is needed – time is money, and the less time wasted by blast disruptions, the better, he adds.
“As the mining sector embraces more technology, it is likely that it will be increasingly viewed as a forward-looking contributor in the transition to a more sustainable economy,” says Hennecke.
“Implementing digital communication infrastructure at mine level can also have positive spin-offs for local communities, potentially improving connectivity in remote areas as part of mining’s environmental, social and governance commitments,” Keenan concludes.