Talison Lithium Limited’s Greenbushes operation is one of the world’s largest suppliers of the strategic mineral, lithium, providing over 35% of the world’s consumption. The hard rock open cut mine has been operating for over 30 years and is the largest and highest grade hard rock lithium mineral resource in the world. Mining is traditional drill and blast method.
In early 2017, ADB was awarded a two year contract extension at the mine, where it has been providing a safe, production drilling and LSI (load, stem, initiate blasting) service since 2011.
ADB works closely with Talison to assist with the blast design. Emulsions are used due to the high volume of ground water. The explosive is delivered to the shot by the explosives supplier and ADB shotfirers manage the down hole service.
- Customised production technique using optimised equipment: Prior to 2013, drilling production techniques at the mine had traditionally used GD5000 top hole hammer drills to drill 115mm to 127mm blast holes on 5m to 10m benches. However, Talison had a requirement for deeper and more accurate 30m pre-splits to provide a continuous split line between each berm, which the GD5000s struggled to perform at the accuracy required. The client also wanted larger hole sizes in the bulk waste zones to reduce drill and blast costs, and was considering the use of reverse circulation (RC) drilling to improve the site’s grade control process. We developed and implemented a customised production technique to meet the client’s objectives by acquiring an Atlas Copco D65 drill – set up with RC but also capable of being easily changed over to drill conventional blast holes. The drill can comfortably drill up to 165mm diameter holes and its down hole hammer can provide accurate pre-split holes to the required depth of 30m. With the RC set up, the D65 is also able to fulfill the grade control requirements. The rig can perform all the functions required with no extra cost to the client for an additional machine.
- Multi-skilled crew increases productivity: As an integrated drill and blast contractor, our crew at Greenbushes is competent in most drill and blast roles, increasing productivity and reducing the number of personnel required on site.
- Industry-leading safety system: ADB’s industry-leading safety system ActionSAFE is in operation at Greenbushes. Through ActionSAFE, ADB has been initiating safety best practice and implementing its OHSAS18001, ISO9001 and AS/NZS4801 certification.
Performance Through its long term partnership with Talison, ADB has been able to demonstrate the value of a professional, integrated drill and blast contract service:
- Production targets consistently met: Multi-skilled team means production requirements are always met even when manning levels are low
- Reduced waste blasting costs: Modified RC-capable D65 drill delivers continuous deep pre-splits with improved accuracy
No lost time to injury: To date, ADB is LTI-free at Greenbushes
Blasting on contours has traditionally required the shot crew to physically walk the contours to prime, load, stem and tie-in the shot, manually handling the ANFO in buckets. The manual handling associated with loading shots on contours can be enormous with the potential for injury being one of the greatest with any activity on a mine site.
Following a suggestion from one of our Drill and Blast Supervisors we designed and built a 1.8t ANFO hopper which has become standard equipment when we are blasting on contours.
- Our shot crew no longer have to manually handle ANFO when loading shots on contours, greatly reducing their risk of injury.
Cape Lambert is one of two port facilities operated by Rio Tinto to export iron ore from its mining operations in the Pilbara. A total of 3.6 million cubic metres of challenging terrain, in close proximity to critical existing infrastructure, has been drilled and blasted without affecting railing and port operations. The ability to safely drill and conduct controlled blasting was critical to avoid mistakes affecting railing operations.
The first phase required technical drilling and blasting of undulating hard rock in an area dense with existing infrastructure and construction. The drill and blast workforce, which peaked at 51, utilised up to ten top hammer drill rigs (Atlas Copco F9C and GD5000 Bucyrus). The car dumper pits required depths of up to 33 metres and a large portion of the work was undertaken below the water table. The design called for ground support installation (mesh and cable bolting) to secure the walls to allow subsequent construction work and later operations to be completed safely. (Action Drill & Blast’s scope of works included the new car dumper 5 (commenced April 2011, completed October 2012); car dumpers 6 and 7 and Phase B stockyard earthworks (commenced March 2012, due for completion July 2013); car dumpers 6 and 7 ground support (commenced April 2012, completed October 2012). The two main bodies of work were undertaken concurrently with the client adding variations along the way.)
- Production, wall control and pre-split blast patterns were completed with fly rock restriction in place.
- 2.2 million cubic metres of blasting associated with car dumper 5 and 1.4 million associated with car dumpers 6 and 7 without affecting critical operations.
In February 2013 Action Drill & Blast was awarded the $140 million four year contract at Cloudbreak mine, which is located 125km north of Newman in the Pilbara region of WA. It is Fortescue’s (FMG) first producing mine, producing almost 40 million tonnes of iron ore per annum. It was the first iron ore mine to use continuous miners to mine the selective iron ore bands. Action Drill & Blast is providing drilling services direct to Fortescue.
The scope of works required a large fleet of rotary drills that must be able to accurately drill depths ranging from 5 to 30 metres deep. On award of the project, Action Drill & Blast had plans in place to transfer and secure sufficient drills required. FMG requested an extra two drills be mobilised, which Action Drill & Blast was able to source to meet the requirements; the extra drills allowed the client to make the changeover with minimal impact on operations. Drilling commenced with a target of up to 160,000 metres per month, comprising 140,000 metres of overburden. Action Drill & Blast scaled up its workforce on site which was in excess of 100 personnel.
- Since commencing onsite, Action Drill & Blast has scaled up its activity at Cloudbreak and was able to mobilise its 12 drill fleet to site in a short timeframe ensuring client production targets were achieved.
In February, Action Drill & Blast was pleased to announce that it had reached in principle agreement with Golding Contractors for the provision of drill and blast services at Stanmore Coal’s in Queensland. The contract for the works has subsequently been executed.
Our service model in operation at Isaac Plains is unique in the coal sector. The common model is to commission separate drillers and blasters whose costs are based on metres drilled or quantity of explosives used, resulting in little incentive to reduce project costs for the client.
In contrast, the innovative approach at Isaac Plains is based on the provision of an end-to-end drill and blast offering based on a fixed price per bulk cubic metre (bcm) blasted. ADB’s focus is to reduce drill metres and reduce explosives used while at the same time meeting strict KPIs on quality.
The Middlemount Coal Mine, 90km northeast of Emerald in Queensland, is an open cut mine operated by Middlemount Coal Pty Ltd – a 50-50 joint venture between Peabody Energy and Yancoal. The mine produces mid-volatile PCI and low-phosphorous semi-hard coking coal for export markets. Mining operations consist of truck and excavator strip mining augmented by cast blasting and dozing.
In 2013, ADB was awarded a three year contract extension at the project vindicating the company’s value delivery since it commenced onsite in 2011.
We are responsible for managing all production drilling and blasting activities, equipment, labour, and associated maintenance, technical and HSET services.
Our team works hand-in-hand with Middlemount’s management and blasting engineers at all levels, from strategic planning, scheduling and optimisation initiatives down to blast-by-blast advice.
Skilled application of innovative blasting technology: A program was initiated in January 2014, in conjunction with the client and engineering consultants, to improve the mine’s production cost efficiencies, particularly the cast-doze-dig process. The initiative focused on implementing tools and methods that would deliver reliable and efficient results for the best value, rather than simply using more explosives. A key opportunity was the introduction of electronic initiation systems. The technology is particularly well suited to cast blasting projects where creating the muck pile profile to suit the digging fleet or eliminating the need to dig a percentage of the muck pile is as important as the primary objective of fragmenting the rock. Before launching the initiative, cast blasting at Middlemount was achieving cast to the final position of under 20 percent, versus an optimum outcome of over 33 percent of material to the final position. Following the trial period, cast percentage was increased significantly. Additionally, while electronics were mainly introduced to improve cast blasting results, they have also been used for vibration control as the pit moved towards a major water pipeline serving a regional town. With this capability, we have successfully blasted within 100m of the pipeline with no damage caused.
Optimised drilling capability: Our engineered improvements to standard Atlas Copco Pit Viper 275s add the ability to increase drilling depth to 72m, 20% deeper than the standard PV275 model and with equal efficiency. There is no requirement for the client to commission additional equipment to drill deeper holes, thereby removing the associated operating costs.
Scalability: We have the installed capacity to increase production when required. Our strong presence in the region and local recruitment policy ensures resources are rapidly available at short notice.
Industry-leading safety system: Our industry-leading safety system ActionSAFE is in operation at Middlemount. Through ActionSAFE, we have been initiating safety best practice and implementing its OHSAS18001, ISO9001 and AS/NZS4801 certification.
Quality systems: Our stringent quality processes across all operations minimise rework and ensure optimum drilling and blasting results, consistently delivering blast holes at the correct depth and correctly timing detonation.
Multi-skilled crew: As an integrated drill and blast contractor, the crew at Middlemount are multi-skilled across most in most drill and blast roles. This increases productivity while reducing the number of personnel required on site.
Through our long term partnership with Middlemount, we have been able to demonstrate the value of a professional, integrated drill and blast contract service:
Increased mine production and cost efficiencies: As a result of the collaborative initiative to improve cast blasting, our ability to meet targets consistently, commitment to continuous improvement and exceptional safety record, the team freed up a whole digger fleet for more productive work. This contributed to increased production at Middlemount from 1.8 million tonnes of ROM a year to in excess of 5 million tonnes a year, over a three year period.
Safety targets consistently met: Our team has been LTI-free at Middlemount since the commencement of the contract and reached the 2,000 days LTI-free milestone in July 2016.
Owned by Rio Tinto, the Nammuldi iron ore mine is located within the West Pilbara region of Western Australia.
ADB was awarded the two year contract for production drilling and blasting services by NRW in August 2015. NRW was contracted for the provision of mining and ore haulage services at Nammuldi for the Incremental Tonnes – Phase 2 Project, which is developing the Marra Mamba iron ore deposits.
We utilised an Atlas Copco D65 drill for 140mm – 165mm diameter blast holes on contour and up to two DML rotary drills for 229mm production blast holes.
- Specialist blasting equipment: To enable the safest and most efficient loading in difficult contoured terrain, we utilised our in-house designed ANFO hopper. The ANFO hopper has the capability to deliver up to 1.8 tonnes of bulk explosive product to the blast, removing the need for hand held buckets and thereby eliminating the manual handling risk usually associated with loading holes on contour.
- Specialised servicing trailer: As the scope did not warrant the cost of a full size service truck, we used a purpose built trailer to service and maintain our equipment on site.
- Scalability: We have the installed capacity to meet any increases in scope as required. At Nammuldi, the scope was increased to include additional extra waste material needed for site infrastructure of ROM pads and haul roads. All material was sourced from difficult contour areas that are associated with the start-up of a greenfield project.
- Industry-leading safety system: Our industry-leading safety system ActionSAFE was in operation at Nammuldi. Through ActionSAFE, ADB has been initiating safety best practice and implementing its OHSAS18001, ISO9001 and AS/NZS4801 certification operations-wide.
- Quality systems: Our stringent quality processes across all our operations including Nammuldi minimise rework and ensure optimum drilling and blasting results. These include selecting the right explosives for the ground conditions, consistently delivering blast holes at the correct depth and correctly timing detonation.
- Multi-skilled crew: As an integrated drill and blast contractor, we provided a multi-skilled crew at Nammuldi, this helped to increase productivity and reduced the number of personnel required on site.
At Nammuldi, ADB demonstrated the value of a professional, integrated drill and blast contract service:
- Production on target: We maintained six weeks of broken ROM stock on hand. This required blasting between 2.3m – 2.6m tonnes every month. We also met increased requirements at short notice when additional dig units were brought on line.
- Improved fragmentation: To improve fragmentation, we engaged a sub-contractor on site over an eight week period to produce crushed aggregate for stemming material on site.
- No lost time to injury: Our contract at Nammuldi was completed LTI-free.