Scott Scovira, Global Manager : Blasting Science, at BME
BME is confidently forging the future of blasting with our innovative range of technology solutions.
BME, a member of the JSE-listed Omnia Group, consistently improves processes to add value to customers’ operations while contributing to a better future for our planet and its people. BLAST ALLIANCE™, BME’s portfolio of digital innovations, includes BLASTMAP™ planning software, the BME Blasting Guide app, and the XPLOLOG™ cloud data platform. Solutions such as AXXIS™ integration, custom development, and training also fall under this brand.
BME’s collaborative approach guides partnerships through iternal collaboration to optimise solutions and through direct engagement with customers and third parties
Blast Alliance™ embodies our reputation as an innovative, technology-orientated partner. It gives our software portfolio its own character, essence and value proposition.
BME drives productivity, efficiency and safety while minimising risk through predictability. Our solutions allow mines to reduce costs, promote real-time, data-driven decision-making, and optimise processes. This aligns with the mining sector’s focus on incorporating new technology and is driving the transition to a more sustainable economy.
A cornerstone technology of quality blasting is great blast-planning software. BME’s well-established BLASTMAP™ blast-planning tool, has been enhanced with a powerful burden relief timing module. This gives blasters finer control of shape and movement of the blasted rock muckpile. It’s a critical enabler for our leading AXXIS™ electronic initiation system, and crucial to optimising efficiency of the excavation fleet. If a mine uses a loader and truck fleet, the blasted rock must be laid out lower. To achieve this, longer burden relief times are needed. A truck and shovel configuration, on the other hand, requires the muckpile to be stacked higher, so tighter burden relief times are required.
The enhancements to BLASTMAP™ integrate with BME’s AXXIS™ system. This allows blast technicians to program a detonator with the desired time delay. It integrates with BME’s XPLOLOG™ system for blast engineers and management to view, capture and sync drill and blast data to a cloud database for real-time access to preparation progress on the blast block. This data informs decisions critical for planning and managing block operations.
BLASTMAPTM capabilities include initiation timing design, initiation sequence simulation, blasthole loading design, fragmentation distribution predictions, and vibration and blasted rock range predictions.
Initiation timing design enables design of blast initiation sequences and facilitates programming the AXXIS™ system. The initiation sequence simulation allows the user to check for correct hole firing sequences and pick up potential out-of-sequence firings. The blasthole loading design module—covering the explosive load, booster and initiation system—is capable of designing decked hole loading.
For fragmentation prediction, one of three equations are available. Site-specific or general rock properties can be entered into an editable rock properties database and fragmentation models can be calibrated with data from physical fragmentation distribution measurements.
Fragmentation and vibration control
Fragmentation distribution is vital to quality blasting, and critical for mining machine productivity when loading and hauling. The optimisation of fragmentation distribution in the crushing and milling circuit improves throughput and recovery.
The vibration prediction tool generates a predictive isomap of vibration levels around the blast, ensuring blast vibrations don’t exceed regulatory or self-imposed environmental constraints. BLASTMAP™ includes an advanced through-seam design module, to design explosive loads and initiation times in multiple dipping coal strata.
BLASTMAP™ imports data from various sources—including third-party software—through its import wizard. This allows text-based files—or specific formats such as DXF files—to be used for conveying data on parameters such as block-out lines on benches, hole depths and charges.
BLASTMAP™ is offered as a standard package for smaller surface-mining operations. BLASTMAP™ Premium, for larger mines, includes modules that predict fragmentation, vibration, and blasted rock radius, with additional modules covering contouring and through-seam design.
Underground blast planning
BLASTMAP™ ‘s surface applications are complemented by BLASTMAP™ Underground. Underground functionality incorporates tunnelling and shaft designs, enabling the blaster to interact with two- and three-dimensional views of complex designs—to manage hole positions, drilling angles and dimensional compliance.
Hole layout design functionality includes body, perimeter, cut, lifter and relief holes, together with timing tools, analysis simulation and prediction. Engineers can achieve the desired fragmentation, clear sufficient space for extraction, and reduce extra breakage by controlling ground vibrations.
Users can design any block shape, create the required cut design—including perimeter hole design—and add costs and quantities to predict expenses. The software generates technical reports and hole timing analysis and contouring. Users can predict vital aspects of a blast, such as vibration and fragmentation. A Direction of Rock Movement feature indicates the direction the ground will move, according to the firing times and initiation points.
A key benefit of BLASTMAP™ Underground is blast design efficiency—reducing timeframes from days to as little as 4 hours.
Blast timing and connecting sequences can be displayed and simulated pre-blast, ensuring expected outcomes are achieved. Tracking of precise volumes of explosive mass to be used per hole improves management of stock and makes blasts more cost-effective. To ensure global accessibility, the software comes with metric and imperial measurements.
Blasting Guide app
In response to market preferences, BME developed the Blasting Guide app on Android.
The IOS-version of the app should be available in 2021.
Available for free from the Google Play Store, BME’s Blasting Guide app includes a blast design calculator, and quick and prediction calculators, in both metric and imperial unit measurements. With the app, users all over the world can quickly calculate and check blast designs. Surface blast design rules of thumb, environmental guidelines, a table of common rock properties, and a BME contact directory by country, are additional features.
The blast design calculator utilises user inputs, including burden, spacing, stemming height, sub-drill, hole diameter, bench height and explosive type to determine explosive loads, powder factors and other outputs. It allows blasters or engineers to plan a blast from start to finish or investigate potential blast patterns for a greenfield site, where numerous scenarios may be generated for quickly checking calculations. The app’s rules of thumb table—which summarises surface blast design guidelines—can be referenced from the blast design calculator.
The quick calculator includes BME’s in-house formulas for target powder factors, as well as the volume of rock to be blasted—either per hole or per blast. Energy equations compare explosives based on their relative bulk strengths, while hole-charging equations determine the mass of explosives going into a hole and gassed emulsion products being loaded. This is useful when determining column lengths and stemming lengths—with gassed or ungassed explosives.
The Blasting Guide app’s prediction calculators determine environmental considerations and blasting radius, for guidance on avoiding fly-rock and predicting peak particle velocity and blasted rock projections to establish clearance areas. Soon, the app will include a scale depth of burial tool designed by a world-recognised consultant.
Online technical services
Customers are reaping the benefits of virtual communication and remote operations through technology—something which has increased in significance since the Covid-19 outbreak. In response, BME now provides technical blasting services online, giving the industry access to specialists through virtual consultations and solutions.
Our online technical blasting service is provided by BME’s in-house technical experts, as well as recognised third-party specialists in blasting, mining and construction. The initial consultation to establish the project scope is free of charge. The service is not limited to BME clients.
Services include blast fragmentation distribution prediction for surface greenfield sites, fragmentation distribution optimisation for supporting mine-to-mill initiatives at established surface and underground sites, and rock characterisation and specifications for blasting in hot or reactive ground. BME’s team also provides solutions for highwall blast design and management and novel and disruptive blast design and mining methods.
BME is ready to help with your technical service needs. Connect your team with over 3 decades of industry experience by booking a free consultation using this link: