Like many catchy mining phrases, “Drill to Mill,” “Pit to Plant,” “Mine to Mill” and “Mine to Market” are deceptively simple descriptions for complex, multi-layered processes. In the mining cycle, drill and blast (D&B) is arguably the first and most important step to get right.
D&B operations impact the entire mining process, from mining equipment efficiency, through crushing and grinding circuit performance, to recoveries and final product quality. Costs and energy usage increase throughout the comminution process. Efforts targeted at optimizing the blasting process can pay huge dividends downstream, reducing costs and energy consumption.
A correct blast not only optimizes the cost of that blast, it improves the total cost profile of the entire mine. Correct fragmentation means easier digging, reduced shovel cycle times, reduced rework, less oversize causing downtime at the crusher, lower cost crushing, and improved tons per hour (TPH) through the processing plant.
A continuous D&B feedback loop underpinned by technology not only increases profit from every blast, but also increases a mine’s purchasing power over one of the most expensive part of the process – explosives.
Hexagon’s holistic approach to D&B incorporates solutions to improve yield, fragmentation and dilution. The approach, incorporating technology ranging from blast design and high-precision drilling to post-blast analysis and optimization, empowers mines to take back the purchasing power on their bulk commodity explosives.
Blast design and high-precision drilling
A well-designed blast pattern and the effective execution of the blast plan using high-precision drills are an important part of an effective D&B operation.
Hexagon’s MinePlan portfolio features MinePlan Blast, a comprehensive software utility for D&B and reconciliation. Rather than risking high-wall stability problems, uneven blasting, poor fragmentation, unnecessarily high energy costs, and dangerous working conditions, MinePlan Blast incorporates charge and blast design templates that are based on sound engineering principles and methods proven in mines worldwide.
The MineOperate portfolio features machine guidance for drills (as well as dozers and loading equipment). The OP Pro HP solution ensures that drilling is performed to the right position and elevation. It provides accuracy and instantaneous feedback, meaning improved loading times across the fleet, less mis-routed material, fewer hours of rework on ramps, roads, and benches, and fewer over- and under-drilled holes. It is proven to improve both the quality of material produced and fragmentation with precise drillhole placement and depth.
OP Pro HP integrates with Hexagon’s operational management hub, MineEnterprise, meaning a single source of reporting and support.
Blast movement monitoring, fragmentation analysis and blast optimization
Preparing for the D&B stage, mine operations have already spent significant amounts of money (running into the millions) to accurately locate the ore body and maximize the information known about the surrounding geology. Proven fragmentation analysis and blast monitoring solutions minimize loss and dilution and deliver the data necessary for the next blast pattern design
Blast Movement Technology (BMT) is an integral part of Hexagon’s D&B solutions, providing accurate ore location information for open pit mines. Via sensors and software, BMT provides accurate blast information that’s used to recover all a mine’s resources. It ensures that post-blast, the mine retains a full vision of where its ore body moved to.
Hexagon’s Split Engineering systems are flexible and can monitor in different areas and process along the operation automatically, such as in shovels, excavators, loaders, haul trucks, crushers, conveyor belts, mill feed and screen decks. The entire process can be connected from pit to plant for a unified approach to fragmentation management.
Monitoring trends in size at each point in the comminution circuit enables operational adjustments in real time. Alarms can be created for oversize events, reducing the downtime from inefficiencies caused by blockages and broken screen decks.
A uniquely holistic approach
The ability to tailor fragmentation outcomes and to minimize ore loss and dilutions through blast movement monitoring are proving to be highly sought after. This uniquely holistic view of the operation combines key knowledge banks, such as geology behavior, effects on powder factor, blast design, planning and fleet management.
A comprehensive D&B approach delivers the power to improve the most vital part of the mine, where everything starts with the drill and blast, without losing purchasing power over the bulk commodity blasting material.
All from a single technology vendor!