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The drive towards electronic detonation

AEL blast

Results from a blast using
electronic detonation technology.

AEL Mining Services, a pioneer in the development and manufacture of electronic detonators, is together with its joint venture subsidiary DetNet focussing on specific innovations that can revolutionise mining.

“Intrinsic to the design of electronic detonators is the safety factor which minimises the risk of accidental initiation. It allows only people with encrypted codes to initiate the detonators,” Carlos Goncalves, product manager AEL Mining Services electronic initiating systems says.

“Today we are excited to announce three of the products, Quick Shot, DigiShot and DigiShot Plus, we are focussing on to showcase our innovations in electronic detonating technology.”

Electronic detonators provide benefits including accuracy of firing times, cost effectiveness, improved overall cycle times, reduction in environmental impact, fine tuned blasting to suit any operational requirement, increased productivity and the ability to reduce secondary breakage costs.

“Operations that have adopted electronic initiating systems report downstream and upstream benefits including improved and consistent fragmentation; controlled muckpile profile and placement; excavation profile and stability improvements; reduced mining costs and safety risks,” Goncalves says.

AEL has deployed electronic initiating systems in quarrying, tunnelling, underground mining, and surface mining applications. From 2007 to 2009, 15 km of the Gautrain rapid rail project’s underground tunnels were excavated under sensitive, built-up areas in Johannesburg. AEL’s QuickShot electronic detonator system was used to achieve maximum advance rates as well as adhere to environmental restrictions. Blasting was performed without incurring damage to sensitive structures on surface with positive prescriptive value (PPV) levels well under the target maximum of 10 mm/s.

Other examples of operations that have adopted electronic delay detonators are Ngezi open pit mine in Zimbabwe and Coedmore quarry in KwaZulu Natal. Ngezi, the first mine to use electronic detonators in Zimbabwe, wanted to optimise the mining processing value chain while Coedmore quarry had to ensure that the environmental impact was reduced resulting in its operation’s continuing production.