Johannesburg-based supplier and manufacturer of explosives AEL Intelligent Blasting has pioneered the Vertical Drop emulsion delivery system which delivers the non-detonable base emulsion and sensitiser required directly to a storage facility, boosting safety and efficiency.
These storage facilities can be designed to be in close proximity to the underground production areas. This is achieved through pipes installed in a borehole from the surface leading to an underground storage bay. This delivery system enables the large scale implementation of AEL’s underground bulk emulsion system.
According to AEL, Vertical Drop was designed to shorten the logistical leg of base underground bulk emulsion deliveries. This is conducted from the surface storage facility to the underground working areas. Delivery is now achieved through the partial, or preferably total, elimination of conventional underground transportation of materials.
The Vertical Drop emulsion delivery system reduces the flow of materials and chemicals in the main arteries of the mine. This ensures efficiencies in transport, higher levels of security and more control over chemicals and explosive precursors.
The conversion to AEL’s underground bulk emulsion system, combined with Vertical Drop, also eliminates the traditional difficulties and constraints associated with explosive deliveries. These required explosives deliveries at fixed times, and strict shaft and tramming schedules. In addition, the clearance of the shaft head and infrastructure was required during explosives movement. Underground, the requirement was for the storage, under the mine’s authority, of explosives that require comprehensive legal control of a large inventory of explosive products.
AEL says the system not only impacts hugely on financial savings and efficiency but reports suggest reductions of 14% in the total monthly mobile charging units’ (MCUs’) engine hours combined with an approximate 12% reduction in MCUs’ monthly fuel consumption.
The system also significantly reduces the time and manpower required to be spent transporting these materials down shaft, decline and roadway systems.
Manual handling of any material is an ongoing safety risk. If this is eliminated, significant safety and productivity benefits can be realised. With Vertical Drop, the multiple potential interfaces with traditional explosives are reduced. AEL’s underground bulk emulsions are sensitised at the working face during charging.
The non-detonability of AEL’s base emulsion and this unique delivery system also lessens the risk of explosives theft. This is achieved as the bulk emulsion displaces traditional explosives and is not in itself an explosive (until sensitised).
Vertical Drop was designed to balance material delivery flow rates, with the technical considerations required for deep drops. AEL says this is necessary to prevent unnecessary shear of the emulsion products delivered. This thickens the emulsion and can lead to crystallisation, both undesirable events.
In the delivery of each vertical drop, AEL partners with top engineering firms. This ensures expert engineering technology is used during the design, fabrication and installation of each Vertical Drop system. These considerations enable a robust, repeatable and efficient transfer system for each delivery.
AEL believes safety is a priority for all its products, thereby supporting and promoting the mining industry’s drive to reduce the number of incidents.