Canadian Mining Journal


SAFETY: Newcrest tests secondary drilling and blasting technology from MacLean, Orica

Secondary break trial at Cadia using MacLean's Auto Explosive Loader enabled with Orica's WebGen wireless technology Credit: Newcrest

Secondary break trial at Cadia using MacLean’s Auto Explosive Loader enabled with Orica’s WebGen wireless technology Credit: Newcrest

AUSTRALIA – Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley underground mine in New South Wales has successfully tested new technology from MacLean Engineering and Orica in a 30-day trial. The site used remote drilling, loading and wireless blasting to remove the workers from major hazards around draw points at Cadia East.

As part of the trial, Newcrest tested MacLean Engineering’s new secondary break drill and blast system (Automated Explosive Charger) as well as Orica’s Wireless Blasting System (WebGen 100) in an isolated area.

Secondary break activities are used when oversized rocks need to be removed from the draw point. Although many oversized rocks can be handled by preparation loaders or rock breakers, some of these require explosives, with workers accessing the area to wire up each conventional explosive used.

MacLean’s secondary break drill and blast system removes workers from these secondary break activities: the company has developed a prototype ‘bolt-on’ piece of equipment, which attaches to existing secondary break drill rigs. This Auto Explosive Loader (AEL) can drill a hole into a rock and push the wireless explosive inside the hole, without the operator leaving the cab of the drill rig. The operator can then remove the drill rig, leave the area and remotely detonate the explosive, using a wireless device manufactured by Orica.

Aaron Brannigan, Cadia’s acting general manager, said the trial was successful.

“The trial has demonstrated the opportunity for significant safety benefits, through eliminating human exposure to the major hazards associated with secondary break activities,” Brannigan said in a release. “The partnership with MacLean and Orica has been mutually beneficial as it has enabled specialist contracting partners to bring together their devices to streamline an entire process in an underground mining environment.”

Patrick Marshall, MacLean’s VP of product management, added that finding safe and efficient ways to introduce remote or autonomous fleet operations is a key area of technology development at MacLean and that partnerships are a critical part of this process.

“The combination of the MacLean Water Cannon mining vehicles, already in operation at Cadia East, along with the MacLean secondary break unit, provides the operation with a comprehensive Ore Flow Suite solution to release trapped reserves and keep operators out of harm’s way,” Marshall said in a release.

Following this trial, the next step would be a more comprehensive test in a production environment to further assess the safety and productivity of the secondary break system.

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