In a bid to drive global adoption of electronic detonation, AEL Mining Services and its joint venture subsidiary DetNet announced they are focusing on specific innovations highlighting the technology, which has enabled a higher degree of blast optimization by providing key features such as precision timing, pre-blast fault identification and rectification ability, as well as improved safety and security.
“Intrinsic to the design of electronic detonators is the over-riding safety factor which minimizes the risk of accidental initiation, allowing access only to people with encrypted codes to initiate the detonators,” said Carlos Goncalves, product manager, AEL Mining Services electronic initiating systems. AEL is a member of the JSE-listed AECI Group in South Africa.

According to Goncalves, AEL’s electronic detonators are suitable for use in tunneling, shaft sinking, underground stoping, quarrying and open cast mining environments.  The company is highlighting three of its electronic detonation products—Quick Shot, DigiShot and DigiShot Plus—to showcase innovations in this blasting sector.

Goncalves said electronic detonators provide numerous benefits including firing time accuracy, cost effectiveness, improved overall cycle times, reduced environmental impact, capability to fine-tune blasting to suit any operational requirement, increased productivity and the potential to reduce secondary breakage costs.

“Operations that have adopted electronic initiating systems are reporting downstream and upstream benefits including improved and consistent fragmentation; controlled muckpile profile and placement, excavation profile and stability improvements, reduced mining costs and safety risks,” said Goncalves.

AEL has deployed electronic initiating systems in quarrying, tunneling, underground mining, and surface mining applications. From 2007 to 2009, the Gautrain Rapid Rail Project’s 15-km underground tunnels were excavated under sensitive, built-up areas in Johannesburg. AEL said its QuickShot electronic detonator system was used to achieve maximum advance rates on the project, as well as to comply with environmental restrictions. Blasting, said AEL, was performed without incurring damage to sensitive structures on surface with Positive Prescriptive Value (PPV) levels well under the target maximum of 10 mm/s.

Other examples of operations that adopted electronic delay detonators are the Ngezi surface mine in Zimbabwe and Coedmore quarry in KwaZulu Natal.  Ngezi, the first mine to use electronic detonators in Zimbabwe, wanted to optimize the mining value chain while Coedmore had to ensure that blasting’s environmental impact was reduced to allow production to continue.

Goncalves said AEL’s engineers would be available to assist mining customers who are interested in converting to electronic detonation practices. AEL’s mining optimization team will provide ongoing support, training and a range of software tools to assist in successful deployment.

AEL is targeting regions including South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Zambia and DRC, South America and Europe—the latter under its joint partnership agreements.

AEL Mining Services has production facilities and offices in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Chile and Southeast Asia.