Orica and Epiroc Rock Drills AB have co-developed a prototype of the world’s first semi-automated explosives delivery system.
The firms say customers in the underground mining industry can look forward to safer, efficient and more productive development blasting as early as the end of 2021, as they commence commissioning on Avatel.
Epiroc underground division president Sami Niiranen said the Avatel prototype represented the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground.
“We are looking forward to bringing this ground-breaking solution to customers worldwide,” he said.
Avatel is designed to eliminate charge crew exposure at the face, reducing the reliance on costly and time-consuming controls to manage the risks to personnel working in one of the highest risk areas of an underground mine.
It is a twin boom, semi-autonomous and fully mechanized development charging solution built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier and integrated with Orica’s latest explosives technology.
It allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of the Roll-Over Protection Structure (ROPS) and Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS) certified cabin.
A key enabling technology of Avatel and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen, the world’s first fully wireless initiation system.
It is combined with Orica’s LOADPlus smart control system, specifically designed onboard storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek Control bulk emulsion.
Extensive trials of Avatel will take place throughout 2021, before the first commercially available systems are expected to enter service.
“The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions,” Orica chief commercial and technology officer Angus Melbourne said.
“Achieving this significant development milestone, despite COVID-19 disruptions, shows the strength of our collaboration with Epiroc and our collective ability to deliver the future of mining.”