The Kevitsa deposit is one of the largest ever mineral discoveries in Finland. Owned and operated by Boliden Kevitsa Mining Oy, Kevitsa mine’s production is approximately 40 Mtpa, including 8 Mt of ore containing nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium.

In 2016, Boliden Group acquired the Kevitsa operation and fragmentation was identified as one of the key performance indicators to evaluate several productivity improvement projects.

In response to Kevitsa’s requirements and key value drivers, Orica proposed to implement FRAGTrack™ on three operating hydraulic front shovels in the sub-zero conditions.

The automated fragmentation measurement device, delivered as part of Orica’s BlastIQ™ Digital Blast Optimisation Platform suite, captures real-time fragmentation measurement data for downstream unit productivity improvement and tracking of operational performance.

The location and time tracking with each captured image have allowed Kevitsa to quantify the effect that geology has on blast performance.

For example, the data to date has shown that areas with high amphibole content gave a 20% coarser fragmentation when compared to equivalent blasts with lower content.

As engineers make targeted design modifications in these areas, FRAGTrack™ can measure the effectiveness of these changes in near real-time.

Boliden Kevitsa OY Senior Drill and Blast and Geotechnical Engineer, Pekka Bergström said:

“FRAGTrack™ cameras give us very valuable information when evaluating our success. Overall, we are very satisfied with all possibilities that Orica has delivered for us to optimise our bulk explosives use and to measure post-blast results.

FRAGTrack™ is also used to enable closed sized setting adjustments of the primary crusher to ensure optimal particle size distribution input to the Semi-Autogenous Grinding (SAG) mill, maximising the throughput for the mine.

While Kevitsa, as a foundation customer has been benefitting from the FRAGTrack™ technology for over four years, the site is now upgraded with the latest generation hardware that offers superior image processing capability and a new insights visualisation platform.

FRAGTrack™, with its high frequency sample rates and unbiased fragmentation analysis, enables blasting optimisation by providing the data necessary to make informed design decisions based on measured results rather than visual assessment.

“Optimised fragmentation sizes speed up the shovel loading cycle and decrease maintenance costs. This has a positive effect on the economy of the operation”, declared Bergström

For more information on FRAGTrack™, please contact your local Orica representative click here

Site profile

The Kevitsa deposit is one of the largest ever mineral discoveries in Finland. Owned and operated by Boliden Kevitsa Mining Oy, the mine employs 520 people and 300 contractors.

Kevitsa mine’s production is approximately 40 Mtpa, including 8 Mt of ore containing nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium.

Kevitsa is committed to maximising operational efficiency and regularly run projects targeted at improving blast performance.

The situation

Boliden acquired the Kevitsa operation in year 2016 and identified fragmentation as the key performance indicator to assess several productivity improvement projects, including:

  • SAG mill throughput improvements byoptimising primary crusher settings
  • increased explosive energy trials withFortis™ Extra
  • increasing powder factors
  • pattern expansion trials in waste
  • Electronic Blasting Systems (EBS) trials withi-kon™

Unlike dig rates or crusher throughput which may be influenced by external factors, fragmentation, particularly at the point of excavation, can only be influenced by blast design and geology.

To ensure conclusions drawn from the data were accurate, a large unbiased sample size was required. This eliminated the possibility of using manual sampling methods as they are time consuming and cause significant disruption to ongoing operations.

Instead, an automated system that could withstand the harsh conditions associated with a mine situated 150km north of the arctic circle was required.

Technical solutions

In response to Kevitsa’s requirements, Orica proposed to implement FRAGTrack™.

FRAGTrack™ uses a combination of 2D and 3D image analysis with a unique algorithm to provide industry leading accuracy over traditional standalone systems, particularly in poor lighting conditions.

Stereo vision cameras and 3D photogrammetric analysis improves definition of finer size fragments and its automated analysis does not require costly yearly calibrations.

Two shovel units (1x PC8000 and 1 x PC5500) and one conveyor mounted system were initially installed in 2016. The shovel systems measured post blast Particle Size Distribution (PSD) allowing engineers to assess the direct impact of blast design changes whilst the conveyor unit provided PSD’s of material leaving the primary crusher and entering the SAG mill.

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