The theft of explosives presents a great danger to illegal miners and steps need to be taken to ensure the prevention of such products falling into the wrong hands.
This is according to Simon Tose, Global Mining Optimisation Manager at AEL Mining Services, who notes with concern a recent media report where three men were arrested near Benoni, allegedly in possession of 10 blasting cartridges, a 10 m detonator fuse and other illegal mining equipment on May 13. Tose also points to concerning media coverage of illegal miners who have been killed or seriously injured by explosives.
Should such explosives go off accidentally, not only are the lives of the illegal miners at stake but also anyone caught in the blast radius. The energy from a single blast also has the potential to create damages to the ground or surrounding infrastructure which could then collapse.
Furthermore, debris thrown from such a blast could cause injury and fatalities as it would be travelling with a high velocity.
“Stringent processes must be followed in order to ensure accountability all along the supply chain and each and every product should be detailed with a unique identification number and tracked from supplier to end user,” says Tose.
“With such a detailed supply chain, it is possible to track where the explosives originated and which entity or person last had control of the products at the time of the theft,” he adds.
Furthermore, an industry move away from cartridges to electronic initiators could have a significant impact on reducing the danger to the public because these products are specially designed with high-quality safety features to ensure they can only be detonated under authorised measures.
“AEL’s electronic detonators, for example, have fail safe features which mean they will not detonate, even in the event of extreme temperatures or damage,” says Tose.