Coal: Innovating the drill & blast contract model to meet changing industry needs

An approach focused on quality, not quantity

As miners continue to adapt to meet changing market conditions, so too must contractors.

Cost reduction remains at the top of the agenda, so a re-think of our contracting models is required. This means developing models that incentivise cost efficiencies whilst not compromising safety and quality.

In the coal sector, a new approach to drill and blast contracting is in operation – providing an integrated solution that focuses on quality rather than quantity.

The coal conundrum  

Typically, coal mines contract one company to perform the drilling and another to perform the blasting.

The drilling contract is based on metres drilled so the driller is motivated to deliver lots of metres quickly rather than a smaller number of quality metres. Similarly, the blasting contract is based on number of explosives used so the blasting company is motivated to use as much product as possible rather than designing the blast to optimise the explosive energy and reduce the quantity of product required.

The net result? Two separate contractors who are effectively increasing project costs, not reducing them.

A new approach

The new model contracts an integrated drill and blast service on a fixed price per bulk cubic metre (bcm) blasted. The contractor’s objective is therefore to reduce metres drilled and reduce explosives used while strictly adhering to KPIs on digability and coal loss to assure blast quality.

The result? The client receives guaranteed quality for a fixed, and overall, lower price.

This approach also facilitates several other benefits:

  • It removes interface and communications issues between the drilling contractor and the blasting contractor as all issues belong to and must be rectified by the integrated provider;
  • A single contractor reduces administration issues;
  • Labour requirements are reduced as integrated D&B crews are multi-skilled and typically able to perform more than one role and;
  • A unified safety system and a better understanding of the risks involved across the whole drill and blast operation.

The cost and risk reduction advantages are clear. But for the coal miner, it means relinquishing the control they typically have over the drill and blast operation in terms of metres drilled and explosives used.

This can be overcome by selecting an experienced company with a strong performance track record.

This model is in operation at the Isaac Plain coal mine in Queensland where we successfully tendered our integrated drill and blast service on a $ per bcm blasted basis.

To find out more about this unique market offering, contact us directly at

Coal: Innovating the drill & blast contract model to meet changing industry needs was last modified: June 23rd, 2016 by brandonegroup