Drilling deep for ultimate solution

With the aid of easy-to-use software, engineers can manipulate and optimise their drill and blast patterns, to make sure the first explosion goes off with a bang. Jessica Darnbrough writes for Australian Mining.

Drill and blast is one of the largest expenses on a mine site, Maptek’s eastern regional sales manager for Vulcan Mark Scholes told Australian Mining.

“The costs involved in drill and blast are often large and if there is the possibility of reduc­ing overhead costs while maxi­mising production, it is impor­tant to achieve that outcome,” he said.

“With the current global financial downturn looming over everybody’s heads, it is impera­tive that there is equipment on the market that can give users more bang for their buck.”

According to Scholes, Map­tek’s latest version of Vulcan is embedded with advanced drill and blast capabilities that allow mine planning engineers to save money on everyday tasks.

Trialling on-screen

Vulcan version 8, which will be widely released in the sec­ond quarter of 2009, includes options that allows users to pre­view a drill and blast pattern before it is set, ensuring poten­tial layout problems are ironed out early, saving time on the ground.

“Having all drillhole data at your fingertips has proven to be a popular feature.

“By request, the latest stream­lined version allows the infor­mation on the datatip to be cus­tomised,” Scholes said.

Excessive toe burdens can be handled by adding holes around the perimeter of a blast. Vulcan 8’s new double stitching option allows engineers to insert extra holes midway between pre­viously created blast holes using

the same or completely differ­ent hole design parameters.

“The software module pres­ents users with the ability to opti­mise the drill and blast equip­ment. By maximising equipment efficiency, explosive consumable costs are reduced and good frag­mentation is achieved, reward­

ing users with strong produc­tion value,” Scholes said.

In a dynamic mine envir­onment, surfaces are always changing. When new survey information becomes available, the effects ripple through to the planning pro­cess.

According to Scholes, Vul­can 8 can recalculate the holes in a blast to reflect the new surface immediately.

This ‘automated’ editing is said to save engineers time and reduce the errors that may be introduced when a large num­ber of holes require editing in a short timeframe.

“Vulcan 8 gives engineers the necessary tools to vary designs both quickly and efficiently,” Scholes said.

“Engineers can optimise their blast designs before blasting has even begun. Users can put a few or a lot of explosives in the ground and not achieve a marked difference because there is an optimum number of explosives for each blast.

“Vulcan 8 helps engineers determine that optimum level on-screen before costs are incurred.

“Blast patterns can be tri­alled quickly and painlessly until the most efficient design is dis­covered.”

Bit by bit

Vulcan 8 allows users to edit holes as a group or individually.

The software also includes alternatives for maintaining the collar location, or in the case of angled holes the 3D vector, of the blasthole.

Holes can also be selected within a blast by echelon, the direction of rows can be reversed to allow easier manipulation of holes within a blast, and blasts can be renamed.

Scholes said underground engineers appreciate the drill­hole warnings that calculate how far a drillhole is from a blast area. The display shows holes which are too close, allowing re-design of drifts if necessary.

“This particular enhance­ment directly addresses safety and regulatory issues affecting many regions,” Scholes said.

“Safety and productivity are critically important to minesites and this software package helps them achieve both.”

“We are constantly develop­ing the software to improve both these areas.”

Scholes said Maptek has already developed an interface between Vulcan and the com­pany’s other successful product MineSuite.

MineSuite is a fleet manage­ment and production monitor­ing software system that, when combined with Vulcan 8, pro­vides a real time link between the production numbers com­ing out of the fleet and the drill and blast numbers that are ascer­tained by the mine planning en­gineers onsite.

• Maptek

Mark Scholes

Eastern Regional Sales Manager


02 9957 5554



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