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Blast geometry understanding improves safety

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
2007 November December
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MDL Laser scanning system
Quarryman Pro scans rock faces collecting, measuring and recording up to 250 points a second on an internal compact flash memory card

Scan and Save Health and safety - as well as operational and cost efficiency - are being radically improved, thanks to more sophisticated ways of understanding blast geometry. ABE takes a look at MDL's Quarryman system

Traditional working practices and techniques for assessing rock burdens provide only rough estimates of the actual rock face burdens. This means blasting has been associated with a poor health and safety record through dangerous rock fly incidents and varying efficiency.

During the last 20 years eye-safe laser measurement specialist Measurement Devices Ltd (MDL) has been developing increasingly more efficient technologies to overcome these problems. MDL's innovations are based on an in-depth understanding of surveying for the quarrying and mining industries and the vast potential of laser technology.

This year UK-based MDL launched Quarryman Pro, its latest reflectorless rock profile and 3D laser scanning system and it is already being used by many major surface mine and quarry operators worldwide.

Demand for the technology is being driven by UK quarrying regulations requiring a detailed rock-face profile before blasting, a natural desire to reduce fly-rock incidents and, in increasingly competitive global markets, to improve operational and cost efficiency.

According to MDL, ease of use and reliability were the main criteria during development. MDL also worked with the UK's HSE Quarry Safety Steering Group, to develop Quarryman Pro. MDL claims that the system is suitable for rugged conditions and is also light and easy to operate so it can be used by those with no surveying expertise.

Quarryman Pro, which won a UK Health and Safety Executive merit award this summer following a Designing for Safety competition jointly hosted by The Institute of Quarrying and the Quarry Products Association, has applications including stockpile volume measurement, 3D mapping of entire mine sites and 3D rock profiling for determining rock-face geometry and blast-hole burdens.

The £15,000 (€21,500) system has a 700m reflectorless range and scans rock faces collecting, measuring and recording up to 250 points a second on a compact flash memory card which is inserted into the instrument and eliminates the need for external field recorders or computers.

An increase in the number of data points Quarryman Pro can record gives operators a detailed 3D image and multiple scans from different instrument set-up points can be joined by the software to create comprehensive, all-round views without hidden shadows.

MDL's Laser Systems Division sales engineer Anthony Comber said, "Health and safety are paramount but are not the only benefit. Better understanding of the blast burden leads to more cost-effective use of explosives and accurate blasting helps to create rock fall of the desired size which eliminates - or reduces - the need for extensive further processing.

 "Being able to judge the correct level of explosives usually leads to a reduction in the volume required which is better for the natural environment because it minimises flora and fauna disruption and to the built environment where vibration and noise can be minimised for nearby communities.

"Stockpiles are a major asset and being able to accurately measure their volume helps business planning."

A large Irish aggregate quarry using Quarryman Pro has reported 150% extra production, 75% reduction in secondary breakage, amounting to €250,000 in first year; 20% increase in crusher throughput, 75% blast reduction, 20% saving in explosives 10% saving in drilling costs, 10% saving in maintenance and a 90% reduction in environmental complaints.

 To provide a total solution, MDL has also developed two Boretrak systems so quarrying professionals can get an exact understanding of borehole deviation before blasting.

The two £7,000 (€10,000) systems are Rodded Boretrak which is non-magnetic and can be used in all types of rock and flooded holes as well as in areas of ferrous materials and hole casings while Cabled Boretrak features a rugged probe containing a dual-axis tilt sensor and digital compass which calculates borehole deviation from the collar position and fixed intervals.

Companies in this article

Health and Safety Executive
Institute of Quarrying
Measurement Devices Ltd
Part of Renishaw

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