Epiroc, Orica Fire World-First Semi-Automated, Wireless Development Blast

Epiroc and Orica, in partnership with Agnico Eagle, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution at Agnico Eagle Mines’ Kittilä mine in Finland. The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept to dramatically improve safety at the face during the charging cycle, which is one of the highest risk activities in underground mining today.

The innovation enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin without compromising the quality of blast outcomes through the integration of Epiroc and Orica’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.

The first successful blast was loaded and then fired wirelessly from the surface on Nov. 22, at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine.

Sami Niiranen, president for Epiroc’s Underground division, said, “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognized solutions and advanced Rig Control System, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry.”

Celebrating the significant milestone, Orica Chief Technology Officer Angus Melbourne said, “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.

“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimization benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring,” Melbourne added. “The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”

The first commercial implementation of Avatel will take place at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations from early 2023.

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