BME – a member of the JSE-listed Omnia Group – is paving the way for mines to leverage the latest technologies for ever-greater efficiencies and productivity.
“Harnessing technology as quickly as it develops – and applying it to make blasting safer and more productive – is vital to the mining sector’s sustainability,” said BME Managing Director Joe Keenan. “Mines are seeing the value in closer digital monitoring and control of all their systems and operations. Innovation is therefore an industry-wide imperative that is demanding closer collaboration – not only with mines but between technology suppliers themselves.”
Over the years, BME’s success has been based on leveraging technology throughout its product range. This includes cold emulsion explosives to mobile manufacturing and application equipment, digital initiation systems, consumables and cutting-edge software.
Keenan noted that the company’s commitment to digital innovation has enhanced its resilience during the COVID-19 lockdown, and ensured that customers continue to be supplied and supported. This has allowed customers to continue with blast planning and execution with minimal disruption. BME’s powerful BLASTMAP software has facilitated remote blast planning where necessary, and assistance on the platform could continue to be provided to mines with restricted access.
“Our systems were able to reduce the points of physical contact to reduce infection risks, including a digital solution that replaced the need for truck drivers to exchange paper documents with mine security staff to gain access to site,” he said. “There is a growing drive from mines to do more with less, so digital technology will continue to be an important tool in achieving increased efficiency,” he said.
This digitization of the mining sector – along with the broader economy – has opened doors to the reskilling of staff into higher-value technology, according to Brian Moodley, BME’s software engineering manager.
“The fourth industrial revolution has seen BME generating leading technologies with its strong development team, helping drive mine optimization, data mining and data analytics,” said Moodley. “Our investment in research and development is an important part of the mining sector’s future success, combined with onboarding staff with the capability to meet this demand.”
He highlighted that BME aimed to be creators – rather than just receivers – of innovation, so its R&D team was constantly raising the bar. This technology focus is on its internal organization and systems, and its products and service offering.
Much of this progress toward the mine of the future will be achieved by more effective collection, storage and analysis of blast-related data, to feed the continuous improvement loop. To do this, BME integrates blast design, blast recording and blast delivery systems.
“Integration of blast data allows for easier interrogation of results, which guides the drilling and blasting process to produce consistent, quality blasts,” said BME’s Global Manager for Blasting Science D. Scott Scovira.
BLASTMAP specifies explosive hole loads and assigns hole firing times, which are downloaded into BME’s AXXIS electronic blast initiation system using the AXXIS Logger for detonator programing. After the blast, data from the AXXIS Logger can be used to compare as-designed versus as-fired initiation information.
The accuracy and reliability of the AXXIS system has also allowed ever-larger blasts, providing mines to conduct blasting less frequently. This holds major benefits for mine productivity by reducing the disruption caused by blast-related pit stoppages. Record-size blasts have been conducted with AXXIS in various mining countries including Australia.
BME’s recent launch of the free Blasting Guide mobile app for Android devices is another example of how the it’s embracing the capability of digital technology. The app speeds up work in the field, replacing the traditional paper medium and allowing users to quickly calculate and check blast designs. Blasting Guide is available for download from the Google Play Store.