Mine blast tech takes vital step forward
Epiroc, Orica develop semi-automated explosives delivery rig Metal Tech News – Nov. 25, 2020
Last updated 12/1/2020 at 6:55pm
Answering the call for safer and more efficient underground mine blasting technology, Orica and Epiroc have combined their expertise to develop a prototype of the world's first semi-automated explosives delivery system for the mining sector.
Built on the foundation of Epiroc's proven Boomer M2 carrier and integrating with Orica's latest explosives technology, this delivery system dubbed Avatel is a semi-autonomous and fully mechanized underground mine blasting solution that allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of the machine's enclosed cabin.
This new technology requested by the mining sector will deliver a completely new way of approaching development blasting operations by eliminating charge crew exposure at the face of underground mines.
"The Avatel prototype represents the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground," said Sami Niiranen, president of the underground division at Epiroc. "We are looking forward to bringing this ground-breaking solution to customers worldwide."
Avatel is equipped with the most sophisticated version of Epiroc's rig control system. When combined with Epiroc's computer assisted boom positioning features, the intuitive interface, large touchscreen, and dual multifunctional joysticks of this control system it allows for precise operations.
Epiroc's advanced control system has been integrated with Orica's Load plus, a control system designed to automate the loading of holes with explosives for mine development and production blasting.
The Avatel collaborators said charge plans and important data will be communicated between the systems.
A key enabling technology of Avatel and Orica's automation vision is WebGen, the world's first fully wireless initiation system. The ability to remotely initiate blasts without the need to lay connecting wires removes miners from harm's way.
Orica and Epiroc said the convergence of these technologies ultimately ensures that the right explosives will be safely delivered into the right holes and given the right timing to achieve optimal efficiencies and the desired outcomes.
"The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions," said Orica Chief Commercial and Technology Officer Angus Melbourne.
Extensive trials of Avatel will be taking place through 2021, before the first commercially available systems are available to the miners seeking safer and more efficient underground mine blasting technology.
Future developments of this autonomous blasting technology can be extended to other Epiroc carriers including battery-electric powered models.