Orica is reportedly facing a challenge over its newly patented shotfiring techniques.
In March this year Orica, in conjunction with the CSIRO, filed two patents for an unnamed 'apparatus, system and method' for blasting technology and techniques.
The ABC reports that these methods, that are focused on blasting in differing layers and levels of rock, has been challenged by Dyno Nobel.
According to Dyno Nobel Orica “applied for that specifically covers the blasting of multiple layers of overlying rock to a free face in a single blasting cycle where the top layer is fired first and as a cast blast, and the bottom layer is subject to stand up blast conditions”.
“The main claim defines that the bottom layer is buffered in the direction of the cast blast (i.e. essentially restricting movement in the bottom layer during the blasting process), that there is a 500ms delay between layers, and that at least 10% of the cast blast is thrown beyond the free face.”
Dyno Nobel stated that it believes Orica’s “claimed blasting techniques are the standard work of a drill and blast engineer, who is responsible for blast pattern design in the mining operations of mining companies”.
“In particular, Dyno Nobel believes Orica is attempting to claim the mere combination of well-known blasting methods into a single blasting cycle. However, combining different blasts into a single cycle has been a longstanding approach that has been used in blasting for several decades. Therefore, there is no ‘invention’ in Orica’s claimed blasting techniques, which are an obvious adaptation of well-known prior art blasting methods.”
It went on to say that the combination of these well-known techniques is not patentable, and miners should be free to use these blasting techniques as they have in the past.
“If Orica’s Patent application is granted, drill and blast engineers who work for mining companies would be significantly constrained by no longer being free to utilise these common blasting techniques, which will inhibit the industry’s move to greater efficiencies.”