Imagine you’re a blast supervisor heading up multiple blast crews at site.
The pattern has been drilled, the crew has dipped the holes and recorded the data on paper dipping sheets (including several long holes at one end of the pattern). Dipping data has been passed onto the truck operators for loading.
Fast forward to after the blast is complete. You and your team noted a flyrock incident during the blast which was later confirmed by looking at the blast video recording. You need to finish up today’s shot reports but now you’ll have to complete an investigation into today’s blast.
How do you figure out what went wrong? Last time this happened it took days to piece together data from the various paper records, the bus is leaving in 10 minutes, and tomorrow you have two large blasts on the docket.
Furthermore, this is the third incident in as many weeks. How can you ensure this will not be repeated on the next blast? On top of all that, fragmentation has been poor lately but it has been impossible to keep up with production and analyze the sudden decline in blast performance.
This is just one example of frustrations and issues felt by hundreds of blast crews, blasting engineers, and managers around the world every day.
Luckily, the digitization of drill and blast data is helping relieve some of the more common pain points associated with drill and blast operations. And with access to that data in real-time, mines like yours are seeing improvements in overall drill & blast efficiency, accuracy and safety.
But just having digital data, and even real-time digital data, is not enough. You need to have a system that enables proper management of your drill and blast data for it to be truly useful.
Employing a drill and blast management system will not only help relieve common pain points in your operations but also help your entire mine site through 3 distinct financial benefits.
What is not measured cannot be improved. And in order to improve, the records of those measurements need to be accessible, now and in the future. This is especially true in the area of drill and blast—where, once you actually initiate the blast, you have no way to go back and measure what was actually drilled or what was actually loaded.
With accessible, digital records of both drilling and dipping information, operations like yours have the ability to more tightly control drilling activities. This can be accomplished through the use of a drill and blast data management system, such as Maptek BlastLogic, which enables the management of operator performance and can help to inform best practices in certain conditions (geology, area of the pit, or environmental considerations).
Several of our client sites have been able to drastically improve their drilling activities and have reported significant financial benefits—all due to better management of drill and blast data with BlastLogic.
In one case, a site has reported a 5% reduction in drilling costs by managing the amount of overdrilling. On top of these cost savings, this site has reduced the amount of drill hours needed through effective management of drilling equipment and activities. This alone netted a savings of over a half million dollars in a matter of months.
Explosive products and services make up a good chunk of a site’s mining costs. Poor inventory management, or loose discipline of on bench activities, can result in wasted product, and ultimately, lost dollars.
However, using a system to manage your drill and blast data enables you to reduce explosive costs without sacrificing performance. With your drill and blast data at your fingertips, you can more effectively manage inventory, audit and improve on bench activities, as well as better manage, and assess, contractor performance.
For example, with (tighter discipline on bench) you can reduce the number of overloaded holes—a big source of wasted product.
Let’s take a look at how:
One of the most common reasons for the overloading of blast holes is due to the improper backfilling of long holes. When backfilling of long holes is not performed, or done incorrectly, not only do you incur an immediate cost with loading unnecessary product, but there is an associated cost related to the poor performance of the blast. Overloaded holes can negatively impact fragmentation, equipment efficiency, and even ore recovery. Even more concerning is the potential negative impact to safety.
Through utilizing a blast management system, you have greater visibility into holes that were marked for backfill and the actual actions taken with a particular hole. Some systems, such as BlastLogic, can notify you in real-time, enabling you to make adjustments before it’s too late.
One of our clients found that a significant portion of their long holes were not being backfilled and were, thus, being overloaded by the powder trucks—driving their total product costs up and affecting shot performance. The availability of this data in BlastLogic enabled that site to more closely manage crews and contractors to ensure adherence to the blast design and get explosives spending back under control.
In terms of measured value, we have seen clients report at least a 5% reduction in explosives costs through utilizing blast management systems. This is in addition to the savings that can be realized through carefully controlled loading and optimized blast performance. These downstream impacts from blasting activities have traditionally been hard to quantify, but solutions like BlastLogic enable operators to associate these outputs to a specific blast and provide the opportunity to use that data to better inform future blasts and optimize explosives usage.
Mining is not an exact science, which means that there can be variances between the design and what was actually implemented in the field. Without monitoring, measuring and quantifying these variances, it can be easy to dismiss them unless something drastic occurs with a particular event. However, the cumulative effect of non-compliance to design can result in significant impacts to mine performance and safety.
For example, we are seeing more and more clients embarking on initiatives to optimize their slopes. This requires great confidence in the design and in the proper execution of the design in order to optimize slope angles while still maintaining an acceptable factor of safety.
Two key components that contribute to a successful slope optimization program are:
Digital drill and blast management systems enable sites to quantify D&B design conformance in real time and understand the impact of each blast on slope quality and the overall slope optimization initiative. Design conformance measurement systems for quantifying dig conformance of the shovels can also be employed to understand digger performance and blast impacts on digability and wall quality.
Couple these systems with continuous slope monitoring, such as Maptek’s Sentry system, and you can maximize safety and preempt incidents associated with slope movement. This is especially crucial when looking to safely steepen pit slopes.
Effective execution of slope optimization initiatives have a significant impact on ore recovery, stripping and overall mine financials. In some cases we have seen a change of 1-2° in slope result in tens of millions of dollars gained through recovery of additional ore material. However, this must be done with great care to maintain the high standard of safety required at site. This is achieved through strict discipline in drill and blast activities and constant vigilance in monitoring slope stability.
Increasingly, sites are facing greater complexity in mining due to deeper deposits, tougher environmental challenges and increased social pressures.
Now more than ever it is imperative to make each dollar count and squeeze each bit of efficiency possible from every function. Whether through lowering operating costs, increasing productivity or increasing recovery, digital drill and blast management systems can help you increase profitability at your operation.
Want to learn more about how digital drill and blast management systems can optimize downstream productivity? Check out this case study on how Anglo American uses BlastLogic to analyze and improve design compliance to sustainably achieve desired blast outputs.
Product Market Manager
April 25, 2019