AEL Solves Blasting Problems with Innovative Products

AEL says its ability to provide blasting solutions comes from experience
servicing remote mine sites from its hubs in Central, East and West Africa,
and its facilities in Egypt. The group’s capabilities have evolved from
delivering solutions to deep-level underground market, to large complex
surface operations.

With explosive sales potential for Africa’s greenfield mine projects estimated at $500 million over the next five years, mining serv-ices companies need to provide quality solu-tions that yield greater results and ensure sustainability, according to Wayne du Chenne, executive director of global busi-ness services, AEL Mining Services.

Speaking at a mining conference held earlier this year, du Chenne said, “Gone are the days of being a commodity provider with a one-size fits all promise. Mining solution providers need to proactively play an impor-tant and creative role in assisting with solv-ing production, environmental and socio-economic challenges in partnership with their customers, which is pivotal to con-tributing to future economic growth and sus-tainability in Africa.

“Our R&D department plays a vital role in keeping our global operations relevant. Tasked with the delivery of two ground-breaking innovations per year, the R&D team is actively involved in assisting AEL engineers and our mining optimization team develop solutions for specific mining applications,” said du Chenne, who point-ed out that AEL’s recent list of innova-tions, developed in partnership with cus-tomers, includes a recently unveiled third-generation (3G) Shock Tube Uni-delay assembly aimed at demanding narrow-reef mining applications to improve environ-mental performance.

“These specific applications consume large amounts of shock tube detonators, resulting in large amounts of plastic waste which has environmental impact. AEL’s new 3G Shock Tube Uni-delay assembly addresses this challenge.

“This product is designed and manufac-tured at AEL’s Initiating Systems Automated Plant (ISAP) in Modderfontein—a com-pletely automated production environ-ment—and has less plastic components. Further enhancements are under way to develop this into a completely lead-free product that is even more environmentally friendly. The removal of lead solids from delay detonator assemblies could lead to a reduction in negative environmental impact,” he said.

Stuart Wade, executive director–AEL Africa, said a “holistic approach” is AEL’s preferred method for in providing mining solutions. “For instance, we understood that extracting platinum at one of our cus-tomer’s underground operations requires an outside-the box solution, and in terms of rock fragmentation, uniformity is not always what the mine requires as there are plant processing issues.”

In this instance, said Wade, the cus-tomer required both large and small rock fragmentation to ensure compatibility and a smooth output from their plant. “With this understanding, our mining optimization team assisted us to develop an explosive solution that ensured that blast results met the mine’s expectations.

“Sometimes we find that a small modifi-cation to the explosives’ solution makes a huge difference to blasting productivity, which exponentially affects the bottom line,” said Wade, who remarked that “oper-ational agility” in providing custom-made solutions is a key factor in delivering suc-cessful solutions to the mining industry.

As Wade explained, “Our African experi-ence was invaluable when we decided to globalize and expand into select internation-al markets over six years ago. We met the demands of an Indonesian customer in South East Asia for 10 million shock tube initiating systems per year from a site that was set up for production in less than three months. Our R&D department also devel-oped a tailor-made solution deploying used oil in its formula to ensure cost-savings and less impact on the environment."

More recently, AEL has invested in plants in the DRC, as well as Burkina Faso, and has secured long-term contracts with mining customers in Egypt, Ghana, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Looking at BlastLogic, Now One Year Old
Slightly over a year ago, Maptek introduced BlastLogic, a new drill and blast accuracy management system, at its Australian Users Conference. At the time of introduction, Maptek described it as a tool that could be used to increase drill and blast accuracy by harnessing automated validation and design tools with an intuitive 3-D interface.

BlastLogic is designed to maintain an historical record of all drilling activity in a single managed location and interfaces with supported third-party drill navigation sys-tems. The product is intended to assist clients in obtaining superior blast accuracy and performance through intelligent blast design, made possible by fusing the distinct data sets associated with mine planning, drill guidance, field survey, load design parameters and post-blast evaluation.

Using BlastLogic, collar location and dimensions are updated automatically from drill rig navigation systems or field survey. Dip, backfill and charge sheets are auto-matically generated. Ruggedized tablets provide electronic data sharing in the field, extending immediate access to data. Site-defined load design rules are applied across a pattern and can be further refined on a hole-by-hole basis.

According to Maptek, BlastLogic is con-figured to site-specific parameters. Preferred tolerances and thresholds can be established for the automated validation process, while a library of blast products and charge rules can be defined and maintained.

Mark Roberts, Maptek’s manager of blast accuracy solutions, recently noted that BlastLogic’s capabilities fit well with a criti-cal trend in the mining industry—the need for changes in technology that allow time-poor personnel to complete both complex and routine tasks effortlessly.

Roberts points out that the spatial loca-tion of a drill pattern derived from mine planning systems such as Vulcan can be dis-played using BlastLogic, along with known in-pit variations such as as-drilled dimen-sions obtained from high precision drill nav-igation systems, or hydrographical and fall-back data from field surveys.

It provides immediate access to dis-parate drill and survey data that allows engi-neers to quickly adapt a blast design to actu-al conditions in the pit. As a result, blast performance can be optimized along with subsequent downstream processes such as dig rates and process throughput.

Roberts also said that automated func-tionality embedded in BlastLogic allows users to validate as-drilled holes to design within site-defined parameters. This proce-dure flags any holes outside of design spec-ification, allowing for quick decisions on re-drill or backfill.

Generation of dip, backfill and charge sheets by user-defined pattern is completed at a click of a button. BlastLogic also calcu-lates the required backfill rate. In the case of a charge sheet, the system determines the placement, type and amount of explo-sive materials pertinent to the site load design parameters.

Another useful automated feature, according to Roberts, is the time-dependent fallback analysis derived from the collated dipping data in BlastLogic’s SQL database. This enables the optimization of over-drill across a pattern or zones in the pit, given a known lag between drilling and blasting.

As featured in Womp 2012 Vol 07 -