Make drilling and blasting safer with drones, detonators and data

By |  October 13, 2022


The last decade has seen a revolution in technology that can – and has – made a quarry’s drill-and-blast operations safer.

Studies show that flyrock is the No. 1 cause of injuries and death from drilling-and-blasting operations. Using laser profilers or drones to gather accurate measurements of face hole burdens across the bench allows a blaster to optimize powder factor. This then leads to better toe breakage, more consistent fragmentation, a reduction in vibration and air overpressure and, most importantly, a mitigation of the flyrock risk caused by over-loading a hole with explosives.

Beyond gathering data to optimize explosives loading, drone technology can provide fragmentation data without risking personnel walking on an unstable muckpile to take photographs. Drones can also link survey data to facilitate a more precise layout of drill hole collars and enable autonomous drilling.

Electronic detonators are becoming mainstream in the world of blasting, superseding pyrotechnic detonators to allow for more precise timing. This reduces vibration and air overpressure while assuring no overlap in detonators firing, which serves to reduce the risk of deadly flyrock. The ability to test the initiation system before pressing a button also increases the blaster’s confidence in firing a blast, without the risk of misfires caused by faulty connections.

Richard O’Meara is North American technical services excellence manager at Orica.

Featured photo: Picsguru/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

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