Vermeer Surface Miners: A better solution to drill and blast

There’s a better way to perform surface mining, extract aggregates or prep a site for civil construction. Using a machine like the Vermeer Terrain Leveler SEM (surface excavation machine) to perform continuous mining allows you to methodically mine or prep a site layer by layer. 

This optimises productivity and precision, eliminating many of the safety challenges and restrictions associated with drilling and blasting

Is drilling and blasting the future or past?

Drilling and blasting has been the predominant method of surface mining for many years. The use of explosives in mining dates back as far as the 17th century. Today, however, some advocates agree that drilling and blasting presents many side effects and challenges — in terms of safety, precision and productivity — that put its future in question.

Bauxite operations in Western Australia are seeing drill and blast in the past, less haul time to conveyors, less downstream cost on crushing, and having the ability to extract ore close to existing infrastructure. In some South American iron ore mines, the adoption of surface mining has opened up vast volumes of high-grade ore around sensitive ecological sites.

As there will always be side effects of blasting, Vermeer has developed the answers to side-step them and get the best out your resources.

These side effects of drill and blast are listed below:

  • Flyrock: A piece of rock thrown beyond the permit boundary that may result in injury, death or property damage.
  • Ground vibrations: A seismic wave that moves through the ground following a blast.
  • Airblast: A concussion (or pressure) wave that moves through the air following a blast.
  • Fumes: The gaseous byproducts of detonated explosives
  • Dust: Small particles of earthen material that may be temporarily suspended in the air.

Some challenges of drill and blast processes are also listed below. By managing these challenges, total cost of ownership can be minimised and overall mining processes should become more effective.

  • Permitting restrictions: Permits dictate the proposed shot, number of blasts and time of each blast. Unforeseen issues such as inclement weather can disrupt approved blast schedules.
  • Urban encroachment: The side effects of blasting restrict drilling and blasting near populated areas.
  • High water tables: The seismic wave that moves through the ground following a blast also moves through underground water and can cause damage to nearby buildings, roads and land.
  • Underground infrastructure: Seismic waves can also cause serious damage to underground utilities.
  • Product sizing: Drilling and blasting limits the ability of operators to control the consistency in the size and shape of the end material. Additional screening and crushing can have a major impact on operational costs.
  • Unexpected costs: An uneven mine floor upon blasting may require additional work that could result in additional expenses.

To avoid the hidden pitfalls of drill and blast processing, Vermeer’s Terrain Leveler SEMs are compared to drill and blast below:

  • Reduced liability: The SEMs help to minimise the chance of injuries, deaths or property damage caused by flyrock and resolves urban encroachment issues.
  • Fewer underground concerns: The machine limits seismic waves so operators can mine closer to underground pipelines, areas with high water tables or underground utilities.
  • Continuous mining: It allows operators to follow the seam for less contamination and selective loading methods.
  • Increased access: Provides the ability to access areas with blast restrictions tied to highway, wildlife, environmental or permitting limitations.
  • Quality product: Minimises product dilution and produces smaller, more consistent particle sizes, eliminating the primary crusher.
  • Optimal precision: Performs precise cuts while following intricate GPS-engineered mine plans* and produces a flat mine floor.
  • Fleet versatility: Allows for the use of smaller loaders and over-the-road haul trucks.
  • Tilting capabilities: Allows for cutting on slopes and producing a controlled floor.
  • Smooth surface: Can produce a flat mine and designed floors.


Contact Vermeer Equipment of WA & NT for more information:

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