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Sound ESG performance a non-negotiable in quarrying

An image of a quarrying machine at a quarrying site

DIGITAL SOLUTIONS The significance of technology is underscored as a way of reducing the environmental impact of quarrying practices

14th June 2024

By: Lumkile Nkomfe

Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Environmental performance holds particular significance in the quarrying industry, with quarries re-evaluating their strategies and operational models, driven by an imperative to align with customer and industry sustainability goals, reports bulk emulsion explosives and blasting solutions manufacturer BME.

BME, part of the Omnia group, seeks to reduce its environmental impact through continuous research, development and product innovations, to develop green blasting technology.

Amid an increased focus on regulatory compliance, the company also assists its customers in the maintenance of their social licence to operate through demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and responsible practices.

Following the challenges of escalating equipment and energy costs, the need for innovative solutions in the quarrying industry is critical, according to BME.

Given that easily-accessible orebodies have already been accessed and mined, BME notes the problem of quarries having to pursue minerals in increasingly challenging locations, as a result.

However, the company highlights that electronic blasting systems offer a “game-changing” approach and can aid in increasing blasting efficiency, thereby helping miners bring down costs.

“The accuracy and reliability of electronic detonators provides tangible benefits to quarries,” states BME AXXIS support managerHennie du Preez.

“For instance, they result in better energy transfer to the rock, leading to improved fragmentation. Enhanced fragmentation means less time spent breaking oversized material. This streamlines the loading and hauling process while reducing energy consumption during crushing and screening,” he explains.

Improved Accuracy

BME highlights that the accuracy of its AXXIS Silver detonation solution results in firing accuracy reaching 0.002567%, meaning that quarries can consistently achieve optimal rock fragmentation.

The company adds that this eliminates the need for costly secondary blasting or mechanical breaking of oversized material, thereby positively affecting downstream processes such as load and haul.

BME also highlights that, through using AXXIS Silver, crusher throughput increases owing to improved overall particle size distribution.

In addition, processing plants can be operated at decreased levels, thereby assiting in reducing their energy consumption and positively impacting sustainability goals.

Du Preez says that the company’s adoption of electronic initiation systems addresses safety, efficiency and environmental concerns, thereby enabling quarries to optimise their operations and remain competitive in the industry.

He adds that blasting is the most critical operation of a quarry and has an effect on most downstream processes, meaning it should be done correctly and efficiently.

“Electronic initiation systems significantly reduce the risk of unintended detonations. Blast commands are encrypted, ensuring precise control and fewer safety hazards.

“BME’s AXXIS Silver system employs dual capacitators and dual voltages for added safety. This precision leads to better fragmentation and energy transfer to the rock, resulting in improved downstream outcomes,” highlights Du Preez.

Digitisation Drawcards

Digitisation remains a significant pillar of BME’s innovation roadmap. The company indicates that the integration of digital technologies can aid quarries and mines to optimise blast designs, reduce waste and reduce environmental impact.

BME’s blast design software BlastMap now seamlessly integrates with Xplolog – BME’s system for capturing and analysing data on blast holes and decks.

In addition, this integration extends further to BME’s mobile manufacturing units, enabling operators to accurately charge and top-up blast holes from the source application.

BME notes that this forms an ecosystem of blasting software and digital technologies that provides real-time data at various levels of the blasting value chain.

Du Preez says BME recognises the critical importance of ensuring a secure supply chain for key mining inputs, such as explosives.

“The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a re-evaluation of supply chain practices, globally. While the supply chains had traditionally operated on a ‘just-in-time’ basis for cost efficiency, recent disruptions highlighted the need for a more robust approach. BME’s ability to continue supplying customers during the pandemic without stock-outs underscores its commitment to security of supply,” he emphasises.

BME asserts that it leverages lessons from its South African home market to develop a globalised strategy to grow international markets beyond Africa in the key regions of Australia, Asia and the Americas.

The company notes that the expansion of its manufacturing footprint in these markets ensures security of supply and supports its growth strategy.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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