Operating Strategies - August 2017

Railway Tunnel Design at Potash Mine Saves Time and Money

Canada’s new Bethune mine — formerly known as the Legacy Project — is the first greenfield potash mine built in Saskatchewan in nearly 40 years, and its owner K+S Potash boasts that it’s the world’s most modern potash operation of its type. Opened in May after a five-year construction phase, the mine shipped its first product in June and K+S intends to produce 600,000 metric tons (mt) to 700,000 mt of potash there this year. Annual production capacity of 2 million mt is expected to be reached soon thereafter. This will be followed by the gradual expansion of production capacity to 2.86 million mt per year (mt/y) in 2023. In a third expansion phase, the mine could reach a maximum output of 4 million mt/y of potassium chloride in about 10 years.

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Software Speeds Technical Documentation Management

Ontario, Canada-based MacLean Engineering has been developing innovative underground mining equipment solutions for more than 40 years, expanding its products and support services into 23 countries on six continents.

MacLean’s product line ranges from ground support with their 900 Series platform and utility bolters, to ore flow with secondary reduction drills, mobile rock breakers, and water cannons, to explosives handing vehicles, shotcrete sprayers, and MineMate support vehicles and attachments.

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Operating Strategies - July 2017

Trial, Error and Success — Finding the Right Blasting Technology Pays Off

Blasting specialist Dyno Nobel recently reported on an interesting and effective blasting-optimization project at an unidentified surface mine. The project, according to the bulk product manager, Dave Hunsaker, required working closely with the customer to determine if benefits could be derived through the introduction and implementation of selected Dyno Nobel Titan bulk explosives technologies.

In past years, the mine traditionally used only augured emulsion/ANFO blends. Wet holes were dewatered and loaded with the same blend normally used for dry hole applications. The benefit of this is that the mine was able to utilize one pattern for both wet and dry holes. Patterns vary from bench to bench, based on the different geological formations found throughout the pit. Once the 16-inch-diameter holes are drilled, it’s not uncommon for them to be loaded and “slept” for several weeks at a time.

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Greens Creek Moves to Automated Loading With Sandvik System

Sandvik announced that Hecla Mining Co.’s Greens Creek operation is the first U.S. underground mine to employ its AutoMine loading technology. The move to Automine Lite-controlled automated loading, according to Sandvik, will enable increased productivity, improved safety and better cost control, while bringing digitalization of the mining process closer and increasing operational transparency.

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Battery Electric Vehicles Underground Guideline Successfully Published

The Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group (GMSG) and the Canadian Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) published the Recommended Practices for Battery Electric Vehicles in Underground Mining Guideline. This document, according to GMSG, is meant to serve as a blueprint for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to move forward in research and development, and references existing standards and guidelines related to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Before this publication, said GMSG, there were no documents specifically related to BEVs in underground mining environments.

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Operating Strategies - June 2017

Survey: Miners Plan to Spend More on Digital Technologies

Four out of five mining and metals companies expect to increase their spending on digital technologies over the next three years, with more than one-quarter (28%) planning significant investments, and almost half (46%) citing digital as the biggest contributor to innovation, according to new research from Accenture.

Based on a survey of approximately 200 mining and metals executives and functional leaders worldwide, the Digital Technology in Mining report shows that the convergence of information and operational technologies (IT/OT) and the adoption of cloud computing are advancing the digital agenda, prompting the need for more-stringent cybersecurity measures.

Mining and metals executives said their companies have applied and will continue to apply digital technology over the next three to five years predominantly in mine operations, but also in exploration, mine development and other areas. Most of the investments in mining operations target robotics and automation, named by 54% as a top spending area, along with remote operating centers, drones and wearable technologies, each at 41%.

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Operating Strategies - May 2017

Breaking Boulders in Top Burden

Stemming is widely used to ensure that a loaded borehole achieves optimum blast results, but the practice can leave large boulders unbroken in the upper layer of burden. The authors explore several proven methods for boulder-busting using explosives.

An explosive detonation releases a large amount of gas pressure in a borehole that, with proper design, is contained and forced to do maximum work horizontally away from the borehole. The main method to ensure the blast does not lift upward, causing minimal fragmentation and up to a 6 decibels (dB) increase in air overpressure, is through the use of proper stemming material and length. Stemming is a double-edged sword leading to better fragmentation of the face, but also with increased boulders from the top burden (see figure below) in the stemming zone of the blast. This can cause problems if the boulders are too large to be handled with the digging equipment or cannot be effectively cast with the overburden.

There are many ways to break these boulders with explosives; however, it is always better to break the boulders in the blast or prevent these boulders from forming during the blasting process rather than having to break them in the muck pile after the blast.

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