PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Gold miner Newcrest Mining’s Cadia underground operation, in New South Wales, will become a testing ground for a first-of-its-kind semi-automated explosives delivery system in the second half of 2022.
The system, which was co-developed by Orica and Epiroc, is designed to remove people from harm’s way and drive productivity in underground development operations. The innovation enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly charge a development face from within the safety of an enclosed cabin, while providing superior blast control and operational reliability with Orica and Epiroc’s flagship technologies.
“We are very excited to see Avatel come to fruition, but equally excited for what the future holds for disruptive technology and the mining industry’s desire to embrace new innovations that move the dial on safe and sustainable mining,” said Orica chief technology officer Angus Melbourne.
“We are proud and excited that Newcrest have continued to place their trust in us by being the first site globally to trial Avatel. They have provided invaluable advice throughout the design and development of the system, which we are truly grateful for. Together, we eagerly await the delivery of the first Avatel unit as it will herald the start of a new era for safer and productive underground development charging.”
Newcrest group manager for directional studies and innovation Tony Sprague said the company was excited to partner with Orica to trial the new Avatel mechanised development charge-up unit at its Cadia operation in 2022.
“This will be the first commercial deployment of the Orica and Epiroc co-developed system anywhere in the globe. We do expect teething issues as is common when deploying any new technology. However, it will be well worth it if we can ensure our tunnel faces are charged with all human work completed from the safety and comfort of Avatel’s operator cabin.”
Avatel is currently undergoing trials at Epiroc’s Kvantorp underground test mine in Sweden under controlled conditions before heading to Agnico Eagle’s Kittila mine, in Finland, to complete extended underground trials in the production environment. Australia will receive the first commercial unit in the second half of 2022, with Canada following closely toward the end of 2022.