Reactive ground detection tech advancing, conference nears

20th October 2017 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Reactive ground  detection tech advancing, conference nears

GROUNDWORK TESTING BME is adapting its XRF Delta Pro mineral scanning technology to quickly identify reactive ground conditions

Explosives and blasting company BME is in the testing and development stage of adapting its XRF Delta Pro mineral scanning technology to quickly identify reactive ground conditions on the spot to prevent blast site incidents, thereby ensuring safer blasting practices.

“This can give us real-time information that eliminates the need for expensive lab tests and waiting weeks for the results,” notes BME blasting engineer Victor Krause.

He adds that, by using this scanner, the user can determine if the areas surrounding blast holes are reactive. This can be done days before explosives are pumped into blast holes to ensure the correct procedures are followed should reactive ground be discovered in the blasting area.

Work on adapting the mineral scanner to test for reactive ground started in 2011 and it is currently being tested at mines in Zambia.

“Reactive ground is one of the most difficult adversaries to contend with in the mining industry. Unlike hot holes, which are easy to find, remain constant and are easy to manage, reactive ground is unpredictable,” says Krause, adding that it is difficult to predict the intensity and categories of reactive ground.

In most cases, reactive ground is identified after an incident has occurred or during the charge-up of an explosives block. Reactivity can happen in seconds or take a day, becoming a major risk to the mineworkers and the environment if its behaviour is not accurately predicted and managed.

Krause expects the development of the adapted XRF Delta Pro to be finalised in 2019, noting that the technology still needs refinement and fine-tuning.

Once operational, BME’s clients will have access to a knowledge-sharing database, training, field testing and site-specific procedures to handle reactive ground.

Gathering Knowledge
BME will this year host its twenty-fifth drilling and blasting conference on November 2 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research International Convention Centre, in Pretoria, Gauteng.

The event will feature South African futurologist Clem Sunter, who will provide delegates insights into future business risks and opportunities.

Sunter is expected to touch on global geopolitical issues and how they will likely affect future performance of the leading economies, such as the rising tone of “war talk” between North Korea and the US, which could lead to global instability. He will also outline scenarios for South Africa’s economic and political future, all of which impact on the local explosives and blasting industry, as well as

point out how the world economy is soon to see China once again take the lead in the world economy, with significant implications for the economic direction of South Africa and other African countries.

The conference features a range of technical authorities who will share new ideas and best practice in the field of explosives and blasting.

International experts include blasting consultant Blast Outcome Services mining specialist Tapan Goswami, who will talk on a holistic approach to managing blast outcomes; Australian mining engineer Lucas Bottomley, who will discuss how to create value with technical blasting services; and blasting training provider RA McClure president Robert McClure from the US, who will speak on three-dimensional surveying for underground blasting operations.

Local specialists who will speak at the BME conference include BME blasting science director Tony Rorke, who will highlight safety in wall control; and BME global product manager Tinus Brits, who will discuss the Axxis digital initiation system, which is being pioneered in the US.

Further, delegates can expect BME surface and underground operations GM for Africa Albie Visser to give an update on the company’s mobilisation in Zambia and BME blasting engineer Christo van Zyl to talk on the benefits of using electronic detonators in fragmentation respectively.

Van Zyl’s presentation will also look at pyrotechnics, compared with electronic detonators, and the impact on accuracy and flexibility of blast results, and his prediction that the technology will become the main method for initiating blastholes in opencast mines, quarries and underground and civil blasting.