Underground miners can now take advantage of the best aspects of electronic and pyrotechnic blasting systems in the one solution with Dyno Nobel’s EZshot technology.
Making an electronic blasting system a worthy choice for underground perimeter blasting has been a long time coming for Dyno Nobel.
As one of the world’s leading commercial explosive providers, Dyno Nobel is now in a position where it can convince mining companies that an electronic system is just as easy to use as a traditional pyrotechnic system.
After several years of development, Dyno Nobel has begun rolling out the EZshot electronic initiation system for underground perimeter blasting at mines on both sides of Australia in 2020.
EZshot lives up to the well-known benefits of electronic systems by delivering superior timing, both precision and accuracy, when compared with pyrotechnic alternatives.
But importantly, EZshot also offers what electronic models have previously failed to – the straightforward setup of a pyrotechnic system, known as NONEL in the industry.
Driven by Dyno Nobel’s industry recognised NONEL brand of shock tube, the technology brings the best of both worlds to the Australian and international mining industry.
Silver Lake Resources has been one of the first Australian mining companies to apply the electronic technology on their new underground mine.
The gold miner applied EZshot for the first portal firing at the Santa project at its Mount Monger Operations in Western Australia during March.
Dyno Nobel has also rolled out the product with a major base metals miner in the Mt Isa region of Queensland and is building case studies with other operators.
EZshot was initially designed to help solve a major challenge underground mining companies and contractors face during perimeter development – overbreak.
Dyno Nobel vice president, product and applications technology David Gribble says EZshot trials have consistently returned reductions in overbreak, which is caused by unfavourable geological conditions, and inefficient or excessive drilling and blasting.
“We’ve had customers say that the profiles of their blasts are a lot smoother than what they have seen before using EZshot,” Gribble tells Australian Mining.
“When these companies encounter difficult ground, we have seen more uniform results with EZshot.”
Paul Klaric, technical manager at DynoConsult, Dyno Nobel’s specialist consulting division, reinforces the promise of EZshot, saying there is evidence during early use that overbreak may be reduced by up to 12 per cent.
He adds that feedback from EZshot users in Australia indicates that the product also delivers safer and more stable drive profiles.
“All of the customers that are using the product have indicated increases in visible half barrels, which are a sign of well-controlled blasting in underground development mining,” Klaric says.
“This promotes ground stability and from an overall sense, means we are producing safer drives that will be there for longer as we are doing minimal damage to the surrounding rock mass.”
“When some mines have a 20-, 30- or even 40-year mine life, if you get it right the first time you will get it right for the long term and hopefully reduce any rehabilitation work later on.”
With underground development blasting, operators don’t always see the half barrels and they’ve assumed that drilling is taking place where it is supposed to.
They now have an opportunity to assess the quality of the drilling post blasting by seeing the half barrels that EZshot leaves behind.
“You have that opportunity now due to the better, more visual blast result,” Gribble says. “An opportunity to improve the drilling now presents because you know where the perimeter holes have been drilled.”
In addition to EZshot’s potential as a breakthrough solution for underground perimeter blasting, it requires no training.
With NONEL, a product that has existed since the 1970s, EZshot introduces a precise detonator with application that is familiar with all shotfirers in the drill and blast sector.
NONEL has proven to be very robust in its application, is abrasion resistant and has excellent elongation properties.
EZshot also removes the complexity associated with electronic blasting systems in high pressure environments such as development mining.
Klaric says Dyno Nobel focussed on developing a product that’s easy to use and suitable for high intensity underground development.
“It’s no different from what the crews do right now – its beauty is its simplicity – only it uses electronic technology,” Klaric says.
“You do get that reluctance to change, which is a natural thing, but the application of it has been around for more than 40 years.
“Our goal was to do something that doesn’t add another step in the application than what we are already doing today.”
Dyno Nobel may have initially targeted underground perimeter blasting with EZshot, but the company also has other mining disciplines in its sights for the product.
Its use may eventually be expanded further into underground operations or even to surface sites, according to Klaric.
“Underground perimeter blasting continues to be the main focus for us but there are other opportunities, such as surface applications,” Klaric says.
“I do see a lot of benefit in surface applications in smaller hard rock mines or quarries. In saying that, there are also additional value propositions in underground mining as well, potentially narrow vein operations.”
With EZshot already building a reputation as an underground perimeter blasting solution, operators in these other mining disciplines will await to see how the technology can benefit them.
In the meantime, however, Dyno Nobel will continue EZshot’s transition from the trial phase into commercial operations as demand for the technology grows.
“It’s a commercial product now and we do have the production capacity to meet market demand. EZshot is early in its lifecycle but we are starting to gain more traction in the market,” Gribble concludes.
EZshot and NONEL are registered products of Dyno Nobel.