Newcrest Mining’s Cadia underground gold mine in New South Wales will be the first commercial trial site for Orica’s mechanised development charging system, Avatel.
Co-developed with Epiroc, Avatel is a first-of-its-kind semi-automated explosives delivery system designed to remove people from harm’s way and drive productivity in underground development operations.
Avatel enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly charge a development face from within the safety of an enclosed cabin, while providing blast control and operational reliability with Orica and Epiroc’s flagship technologies.
Orica chief technology officer Angus Melbourne said he is proud and excited that Newcrest has continued to place its trust in Orica by being the first site globally to trial Avatel, which will be implemented this year.
“They have provided invaluable advice throughout the design and development of the system, which we are truly grateful for,” he said.
“Together, we eagerly await the delivery of the first Avatel unit as it will herald the start of a new era for safer and productive underground development charging.
“We are very excited to see Avatel come to fruition, but equally excited for what the future holds for disruptive technology and the mining industry’s desire to embrace new innovations that move the dial on safe and sustainable mining.”
Newcrest’s group manager for directional studies and innovation Tony Sprague said the company is excited to partner with Orica to trial the new Avatel mechanised development charge-up unit at its Cadia operation in 2022.
“This will be the first commercial deployment of the Orica and Epiroc co-developed system anywhere in the globe,” he said.
“We do expect teething issues as is common when deploying any new technology.
“However, it will be well worth it if we can ensure our tunnel faces are charged with all human work completed from the safety and comfort of Avatel’s operator cabin.”
A critical enabler of Avatel is the second-generation wireless initiation initiating system, WebGen 200, which will eliminate the need for wired connections and subsequent exposure to crews at the face, enabling continued and safe access, even in poor or seismic ground conditions, to accelerate the development cycle.