Explosives technology offering showcased

21st November 2014 By: Ilan Solomons - Creamer Media Staff Writer

Explosives technology  offering showcased

BUFFALO BOOSTER The Buffalo Booster is made of nonexplosive materials which become explosive only about one hour after being manufactured

Explosives company AEL Mining Services showcased its new Buffalo Booster, which improves blasting operations, at its 2014 Blasting Masterclass conference, in Bryanston, last month.

AEL technology group executive director Liesel de Villiers said at the event that the company was scheduled to have the system commercially available to the local mining market during the third quarter of 2015.

“AEL has undertaken the first trial blast shots with the booster at a local quarry site and we are set to start trialling the system on a mine site, in West Africa, at the beginning of 2015.”

She pointed out that traditionally used, pentolite boosters had been in use for more than 60 years.

“The raw materials used in the manufacturing of pentolite boosters, such as pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and trinitrotoluene (TNT), are highly explosive and therefore require licensed magazines for their storage, which makes their being transported challenging – locally and globally.”

De Villiers noted that the high cost of melting TNT and PETN, as well as the cooling of the cast pentolite, posed major challenges for technologists.

Further, she highlighted the limited sources of TNT globally, with South Africa sourcing its TNT materials from China.

“Owing to the scarcity of TNT supply . . . and the weak rand, AEL has recorded increases in the cost of importing TNT materials of more than 250% over the past three years,” she noted.

However, De Villiers said AEL’s Buffalo Booster was made up of nonexplosive materials, which become explosive only an hour after being manufactured, once the materials had undergone a setting reaction process.

“Therefore, the Buffalo Booster will be manufactured at the location of the customers’ blast site using containerised technology, eliminating the challenges of transporting explosive materials,” she stated.

Should a misfire occur and the integrity of the booster shell compromised, the booster has been formulated to safely dissolve.

Moreover, De Villiers highlighted that this on-site manufacturing process would also provide opportunities for local job creation, as this was becoming an increasingly important aspect for mines that wanted to create as many local job opportunities as possible.

Product Innovation

De Villiers said, during the course of next year, AEL would launch a new DigiShot blast controller that communicates with the DigiShot Tagger electronic blasting wireless unit using a single user interface.

She added that AEL recently introduced the lightweight portable DigiShot 300S blaster – capable of timing and initiating up to 600 DigiShot detonators simultaneously – to the local quarrying market.

The blaster is housed in a compact 3.5 kg bright-orange, portable carry case, can verify blast layouts and test connections to detonators, as well as programme, time and fire the detonators.

Fragmentation by Design

De Villiers noted that the DigiShot Plus electronic initiation system was one of AEL’s best selling products and was widely used in global mining operations.

“The system is well suited to large-scale blasting operations and has radiofrequency functionality, with remote line-of-sight firing capability of up to
3 500 m, thereby providing blasters with additional distance protection,” she stated.

The DigiShot Plus system is easy to use and reliable, as it can initiate up to
1 800 total detonators per blast and up to 15 detonators per hole.