Growing Through Advanced Technological Applications in MiningMon, 10/22/2018 - 17:03
Q: How do your blasting services differ from those offered by other companies?
A: We provide innovative solutions that can greatly reduce time and costs. For companies that are not afraid to incorporate new technology, we can help them to increase productivity rates considerably in the same window of time as more traditional systems. And for those that are more conservative and wish to retain their existing mechanical systems, we can help them find ways to improve their process and reduce costs.
We have noticed that initiation systems in the industry have evolved considerably and this could change the way blasting systems work. Programmability in detonators now allows companies to adapt blasting systems to the needs of the operation on a daily basis and we use these solutions in our portfolio. We differentiate ourselves by providing products that no one else offers in the market that can greatly improve operations. For example, we are the only suppliers of i-Kon, the top-selling electronic detonator globally. Just recently we introduced wireless system Webgen into our portfolio. This can be initiated remotely and helps mines to fully automate blasting processes. In fact, we just carried out our first tests of these products in Canada with Goldcorp and we are now starting to promote it in Mexico as well. Fresnillo is quite likely to adopt some of these products as it is a company that prioritizes investment in technology.
Q: In which phase of the mine production cycle do you specialize?
A: We participate in initial unitary process, which is drilling and blasting, and the result of this process impacts approximately 90 percent of performance of the following downstream processes. Our services are dictated by what size of fragmented rocks the operation requires. For example, milling processes require much finer rocks than a leaching system. Ideally, at the planning stage we can collaborate with mining operators in feasibility studies and help them to incorporate the most cost-effective blasting system possible, thereby challenging output assumptions of the mine. This can effectively reduce CAPEX. But companies rarely do this, so we provide a tailor-made solution to each operation with each plant design already in mind.
Q: How is your business impacted by the development of more complex mines that are increasingly going underground?
A: I believe that Mexico will experience an increase in underground mines over the next 20 years as many open-pit mines will shift to underground to better extract mineralized bodies and become more cost effective. Many mines start off underground, turn into open-pit mines, then start underground operations once again. Big open-pits more likely will convert to underground when cost requires that shift. That is the case of big pit in copper mine in other countries like Chile, where Chuquicamata after 100 years of exploitation is now moving from the largest copper open pit to one of the largest and newest underground mines in the world.
Q: What strategies will the company deploy to maintain its leadership in global explosives?
A: Orica is now focusing on expanding its presence by acquiring companies that can provide innovative technology solutions to maintain its competitive edge. We have incorporated groundbreaking solutions to our portfolio through this strategy such as GroundProbe a novel technology in radar that can predict movements to avoid surprise motions within rock structures. Orica is also starting to provide services in intelligent blasting to use data to create a design and improve processes continuously, with a new technology called BlastIQ that includes the latest in geological data management. Finally, Orica also is offering high-level technology in ground support for underground operations. While Orica is focusing in new development in technology, we remain open to acquisitions that can help us to continue growing and securing our position in the market.