Blasting Operations Basis for Growth in Mining MarketBy Karin Dilge | Fri, 06/10/2022 - 16:22
Q: How are Orica’s technology solutions transforming the Mexican mining industry?
A: Orica is the largest commercial explosives supplier in the world. That means that we are not only the largest by size but also the company that is investing the most in technological development within this niche. Currently, we are the leaders in the development of explosives, including blasting technology. This includes our WebGen wireless system, which is helping customers to operate with greater safety. Blasts can be triggered from a distance, without risking the lives of employees. This also grants miners access to production in areas that were previously inaccessible.
Another important area of development, which we have been working on for the past three years, is our digital transformation. This includes the development of software that can anticipate the results of a blasting campaign or reduce dilution, which is mainly an issue for gold mining. We are also developing several products that include BlastIQ, a technology that helps operators manage a blasting system. Orica also developed FRAGTrack, which measures fragmentation. Altogether, our digital tools help customers to better understand and anticipate their results. This can contribute significantly to the effectiveness of their operations.
Q: What are the main actions the company takes to ensure the safety of its customers?
A: Operational safety is Orica’s focus. Nevertheless, the company does not always operate the blast itself. In that case, we train our customers to ensure that their use of our products is as successful as possible. When Orica operates the blast, it does so with the highest safety standard and additional means of support for customers. Orica will never allow for unsafe operations. Our standards are applied in an identical fashion to all our international customers, regardless of regulation that might vary per jurisdiction.
Q: How are you helping mitigate the environmental risks associated with blasting operations?
A: We are addressing these issues through three different factors. Our electronic initiation systems technology establishes better control of vibrations, noise and dust. Many mines in Mexico operate close to towns that can be affected by blast vibrations, which our technologies help mitigate, as well as limiting noise and dust pollution. The question of dust is complex because the desert areas of northern Mexico dictate that an open pit mine running blasting operations will generate a considerable dust cloud regardless of measures taken. Even the logistics and transportation of material generates considerable dust. We can help mitigate some of these conditions, not only through our products and technologies but also with blast design services. Through the service, Orica can control how much dust is created by the blast. These factors not only help operators with environmental and regulatory compliance but they have a direct relationship to the way in which they relate to the communities that live and work near them. If you can improve the quality of life of those communities, then you have a new basis on which to build your relationship. Furthermore, Orica is committed to significantly reducing its emissions.
Q: How would you describe the relevance of the Mexican market to your overall strategy?
A: We are expanding our operations in Mexico, even though the production of ammonium nitrate is mostly taking place in other countries. Orica is absolutely committed to the development of Mexico’s mining sector. We are the third-largest Australian company in Mexico and are committed to the promotion of Australian companies in the country and to the general success of the Australia-Mexico business relationship. We expect Mexico’s mining industry to continue growing. Major copper and gold projects, along with the companies managing them, will be a big part of this growth. We have spent the last decade investing in our manufacturing capabilities in Mexico, including into our plant in Cuatro Cienegas, Coahuila.