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Bench face surveying cuts costs

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
January February 2008
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man photographing bench face
Pictures of a bench face are taken using a calibrated SLR camera

An Austrian system for accurate bench face surveying can help operators cut costs, reports Alan Peterson

Substantial savings in drill and blast costs can easily be achieved, according to Austria-based 3G Software and Measurement. It claims the savings can be made using its novel BlastMetriX3D system for bench face surveying and geometric planning of blasts in both large and small quarry sites.

The system is simple to use too. After setting out marking elements (scaling rods) two photos are taken using a pre-calibrated, zoom-lensed digital SLR camera. The two pictures are processed to a three-dimensional image (topography plus picture) that accurately reflects the shape of the bench face.

Using another integrated software component, the geometry of the blast is generated allowing for planning of borehole positions and for documentation purposes.

The immediate results provide profiles, minimum burden per hole and over the whole area, volumes, and scaled drill plans. These allow the operator planning the blast to take account of geometric anomalies of the bench face.

Besides the increased safety due to the contact-free measurement principle, further benefits include simple and fast application on site, and the possibility to adapt the loading on the actual bench face geometry, says the company.

The knowledge of the precise geometry enables a reduction in the problems caused by fly-rock and vibrations.

"We originally had systems related to geological mapping. Through collaboration with a mining university in Austria and a quarry owner (a Strabag company) the development of BlastMetrix3D was initiated, and has been on the market since 2006," said Andreas Gaich, director of the company.

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3d image of a rock face
The a drill pattern and resulting burden can be calculated using the 3D images
"Feedback shows that benefits are differently recognised; some appreciate the high documentation quality from the 3D images, others like the simple and quick field procedure, while others pay more attention to costs. Measurements happen within the software and not within complex hardware," added Gaich.

"Depending on the operation we have heard that by optimising drill and blast layout operators have come up with 20% savings for drilling and blasting. There's fewer metres to drill and/or explosives to use. But the system is just a tool, not for telling operators how to blast, but rather delivering the geometric information in order to do it well."

Gaich recalled the experiences of a customer recently working in a quarry close to residential buildings with vibration issues. "They managed to reduce vibration by 50% just by providing the actual blast site geometry to the shot firer," he said.

The company produces the whole measurement and 3D assessment software in-house thus allowing for integrating future capabilities based on customer needs. 3G Software says that so far systems have been sold in Canada, USA, Chile, South Africa, Korea, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

In 2006 they won the Hagenberg Software Award for their BlastMetriX3D system and more recently the Innoward 2007. The Hagenberg prize is granted for innovative and qualitatively outstanding software development

Companies in this article

3G Software

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