Héctor Miranda
Country Manager
View from the Top

Orica's Cutting-Edge Blasting Technology Boosts Safety

By Alejandro Ehrenberg | Thu, 07/30/2020 - 10:54

Q: Why is mining essential for Mexico’s economic recovery?

A: There are three main reasons why the mining industry is essential to Mexico’s development. First, the impact of the industry on the nation’s GDP. This goes beyond just the mines themselves. It involves exploration and development activities, as well as all the supply chain around mining. Second, the sector’s social involvement is fundamental. Especially regarding communities in remote regions, mining is often the only source of development and infrastructure. Third, the number of people employed directly and indirectly in Mexico’s industry totals around 2.3 million. Mining generates long supply chains that galvanize economic activity and create jobs.

Q: How do international investors perceive Mexico’s security conditions?

A: Security is a major risk that investors consider before venturing to do business in any country worldwide, Mexico is not the exception. Insecurity levels may be worsening in certain areas of Mexico, but undoubtedly with the correct strategy and the proper actions Mexican society can turn things around to a great extent.

Q: What do businesses want the government to do in terms of security?

A: For the past months, some customers have expressed the sense of a deterioration in security terms and conditions in some geographic areas in Mexico. We have discussed this topic within the mining community, but it raises concerns abroad, too. We expect that in the following months states within Mexico take a proactive approach and partner with the federal government to improve together the security conditions. Establishing clear and thorough protocols is crucial. Companies have to create a secure environment around their activities in Mexico, precisely thanks to protocols and authorities’ s recommendations.

Q: What added value does GroundProbe, a company that Orica acquired, offer to the mining industry?

A: Orica’s strategy is to strengthen its portfolio as a technology provider. We strive to offer a comprehensive package to our clients consisting of top-notch technology and prime technical service. GroundProbe is the world’s most innovative radar provider. These radars monitor slopes in open-pit and underground mining. Two key values are produced when you monitor the movements of rocky massifs. First, the safety of the workers around the massif. Second, when the massif is well-controlled, costs can be kept under control, by optimizing slope angles, for instance. GroundProbe’s technology is relevant at all stages of a mining project. At the beginning of the project it may be less important but it progressively becomes indispensable as massifs gain volume and slope angles increase. Also, it provides crucial information about vibrations produced during the blast. Geological formations at mines are very important. Eventually, fault lines develop, and it is of the utmost significance to keep a close watch on them.

Q: What does Minova add to Orica’s portfolio?

A: Minova is a world leader in providing ground support technology to Mining and Tunneling operations. Our products include steel bolts, resins, and cementitious grouts used for ground or rock consolidation and stabilization. We are a renowned manufacturer of Lokset Resin Cartridges used worldwide for bolt anchoring.

Utilizing our synergies, the Orica and Minova product mix results in increased safety and enhanced productivity for our customers. Driving the innovation in ground support applications, allows us to deliver new products to the market to increase Orica Group’s offering to the mining industry. We have recently developed a new product called TekStem, that is used in securing the explosives in the blast holes, aimed at increasing the security of material handling and to assist in seismic data collection. Our products’ versatility allows them to be used also in conjunction with GroundProbe’s lidar technology for example, in shotcrete application or to monitor the movement of installed bolts, increasing the safety of the mining workforce and minimizing product waste.

Q: What products in your blasting portfolio are you expecting to see the most demand growth?

A: We expect electronic detonation systems to continuously grow at the expense of other, less sophisticated systems. There is still room in Mexico to keep advancing in the implementation of these systems. We have an array of different electronic detonation systems for civil works, for the mining industry and seismic prospecting. For quarries and construction activities, civil works, and low complexity mines, we offer a system called Unitronic.

On the next level of complexity is our Ikon system. This system is available with a reinforced and super-reinforced wire, suitable for different blasting needs in different environment in the bench of the mine. Our blasting systems work for open-pit mining and underground mining. In the latter category, we have systems for productive blasting, where precision and programmability are key. Our systems generate fewer vibrations than others in the market, mainly due to the accuracy of the initiation. This helps to keep fragmentation according to the requirement in each operation and depending the downstream processes. Again, this cutting-edge technology developed for specifically for Underground operations called eDev reduces the need to direct resources at fortifying tunnel roofs, because stability increases with better blasting results, mainly in advance rate and overbreak. Most importantly, the safety of the underground operation is drastically improved.

Orica is the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems to the mining, quarrying, oil and gas and construction markets. It is a leading supplier of sodium cyanide for gold extraction and a specialist provider of ground support services in mining and tunneling.

Alejandro Ehrenberg Alejandro Ehrenberg Journalist and Industry Analyst