Over time, electronic detonation technology – blasting has become steadily more popular in the quarrying sector. This, as there are emerging economic opportunities – especially in road construction, which relies on quarries for aggregate and other building materials. Notably, plans are underway to repair national infrastructure and roll out new projects, indicating that contractors are expected to become full of activity.
Also, there is quickly forthcoming optimism as the recent Institute of Quarrying Southern Africa (IQSA) conference is giving hope that the region’s economy is recovering, according to Tinus Brits, BME’s Global Product Manager – AXXIS™.
“There are definitely improvements in the performance of a range of sectors, and it was exciting to hear that organisations like the South African Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) had a strong pipeline of projects. “As quarries position themselves for the growing demand, they are also looking at the efficiencies of their operations – which is where BME makes an important contribution,” he said.
With this, more quarry managers are moving toward newer blasting technology, for a couple of key explanations;
- As quarries age, areas to be blasted can become more challenging, requiring that blasting techniques and equipment become more accurate, flexible and controlled.
- There is also a cost factor related to energy consumption, where rising electricity prices are energy-efficiency.
It’s no wonder quarries want their primary blasted rock to be optimally fragmented so that their crushers operate as productively and efficiently as possible. This is where electronic detonators – and the suite of digital tools that accompany this specific technology – allows quarries to achieve a higher quality of blasts, with better outcomes.
According to Bennie van Nieuwenhuizen, BME’s AXXIS™ quality manager, AXXIS Titanium™ allowed large blasts of up to 20,000 detonators, while AXXIS Silver™ boasted of the same high levels of safety in smaller operations.
There has definitely been a steady annual conversion rate of quarries from non-electric detonators to electronic detonators, of about 12-14%. Within the next five years, it is expected that a great percentage of quarries will move over to electronics.
AXXIS Silver™ retains all the stringent safety features that have made AXXIS Titanium™ so popular, including an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip in the BME detonators. Among the added benefits is the more internal safety gates against stray current and lightning – which enhances safety levels and allows for inherently safe logging and testing.
The new ASIC system speeds up the blasting process, as the logging, testing and programming is done with one unit and requires only one visit to the blast hole. This allows customised solutions that can be implemented with speed, accuracy and safety. There are also specific advantages for quarries that have been built into AXXIS Silver™, such as the thinner wire which has been developed to suit small-diameter waterlogged blast holes without compromising on the line strength.
In addition to being fit for the purpose and quick to install, the reduced thickness also translates into a cost-benefit for the consumer – making it the best fit for blasting in quarries.