The Asia Miner

JAN-FEB 2017

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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6 | ASIA Miner | Volume 14 • Issue 1 | 2017 THERE was heartening news for mines at the recent BME Annual Drilling and Blast- ing Conference in South Africa, with views that commodity prices may be turning, and news of innovations that will save mines money as they struggle to stay profitable. According to economist Dr Roelof Botha, the volume of total mining production in 2016 showed signs of stabilising, particu- larly for platinum and iron ore. "Also, in the first quarter of 2016, gold de- mand reached its second-highest quarterly level in history," he said. "What is good for gold is, as a rule, good for the South African economy." Reflecting on exploration activity, BME managing director Joe Keenan said there were signs that confidence was returning to commodities, and it was unlikely prices would worsen beyond current levels. How- ever, he suggested that global economic re- covery may still be a couple of years away. Notwithstanding the cyclical difficulties, he said that BME was still forging ahead in terms of cost-saving innovations and open- ing up new markets. "BME has become an international com- pany, operating in over 23 countries while pursuing business opportunities in large markets like the USA and Canada," he said. "The year also saw our first delivery of Axxis products to Colombia, and a contract on the expanding rail system in Singapore." The conference focused on technological innovations in blasting that could reduce costs in mining in the short term while im- proving safety levels and productivity. A key advance was in the employment of emul- sions in underground mining. BME, in part- nership with Gold One's Modder East mine, implemented the world's deepest emulsion pipeline, and developed the infrastructure to use emulsion explosives in the narrow-reef environment. "The system at Modder East is the re- sult of three years' hard work, but we've achieved what no-one has accomplished," Modder East explosives and technical man- ager James McArdle said. "While we were already using emulsion explosives in devel- opment operations, we took a bold step forward. We have successfully installed and commissioned the world's first longest drop Rapid Re-Loading Emulsion System of 318 metres to underground storage tanks and now leverage its benefits and cost-savings in day-to-day operations." Addressing the risk of lightning to mines' blasting activities, BME technical direc- tor Tony Rorke pointed out that lightning strikes pose significant dangers to opencast mines. He highlighted the potential for es- pecially positive cloud-to-ground strikes to induce the unplanned detonation of explo- sives, and outlined the advances made in the second generation of the Axxis electron- ic detonation system, Axxis GII, to mitigate the risk of lightning-induced initiation. The 24 th annual BME conference attract- ed over 450 delegates from 15 countries including Poland, Singapore, Australia, Canada, USA, Czech Republic, Zambia and Botswana. TWO Australian leaders in mining research – CRCMining and CSIRO Mineral Resources – have joined forces to create mining innovation powerhouse, Mining3. Headquartered in Brisbane, Min- ing3 integrates all CRCMining activities and CSIRO's hard rock min- ing research capability into a single, industry-focused entity. Mining3's combined research expertise will enable it to develop the tech- nologies the mining industry needs to overcome its greatest challenges. "The mining industry must change if it's to keep up with increasing economic, environmental and social pressures, and have a produc- tive future," former CRCMining CEO and Mining3 CEO, Professor Paul Lever said. "With our unique scale and industry focus, Mining3 will drive this change. We're drawing on the strengths of industry thought lead- ers, technical experts, extensive international networks, our industry member base and proven innovation capability. "Mining3 is focused on shortening the innovation cycle to provide quicker benefits to the industry. We do this by involving mining com- panies throughout the research process and accelerating commer- cialisation of outcomes," he said. Mining3 capabilities include rock sensing and characterisation, blasting, excavation, haulage, automation, geomechanics, energy, performance, safety, and process optimisation for both surface and underground mining. As with the former CRCMining, Mining3 is a member-based or- ganisation. It has eight industry members, who direct the organi- sation's research, and five research partners, including the CSIRO. "We expect more industry members, both mining companies and METS/OEMs, to join Mining3 in order to take advantage of the op- portunities the organisation presents. The consolidation of two of the world's leading mining research organisations provides a greater success rate of delivering real-world innovation, and the model en- sures lower costs. This is an unrivalled opportunity for mining com- panies and suppliers who need innovation," Professor Lever said. Mining3 and its members will focus on, and continue to develop, the Mining3 industry roadmap, a vision for addressing the highest value opportunities and challenges. "We're delighted to be partnering in Mining3 to deliver a strong, world-leading mining innovation hub that's set to drive real out- comes for companies," CSIRO Mineral Resources director Jona- than Law said. "This collaboration positions Australia on the global mining innovation stage. Together, we will tackle the biggest chal- lenges facing mining today." The new venture further strengthens Australia's research capability and earmarks its position as a leader in global mining innovation. Mining3 to drive industry change Positive signs for mining recovery Economist Dr Roelof Botha at the BME Annual Drilling and Blasting Conference in Pretoria.

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