Utilization of Aerial Drones to Optimize Blast and Stockpile Fragmentation


Mr Mark Wagner (North American Sales Manager - WipWare Incorporated)

To maximize potential, mining operations strive to bring ore to the plant’s entry point at the most suited state for the process. The higher the compatibility between the ore’s controlled variables and the plant’s requirements the better the productivity (and usually quality). The impact of rock fragmentation on all stages of the process is far reaching and costly. To overcome the fragmentation’s high standard deviation and lack of compatibility “that can’t be avoided”, plants compensate by implementing expensive processes. Our goal to produce the ideal feed requires we calibrate the pre-process handling of the ore - the blasts. Correlating between geology, blasting parameters such as pattern, timing, explosive load, hole information and measuring the results in place is key to that calibration. The path to continuous improvement is:1. Creating a “situational awareness” – a 360-degree picture of the parameters.2. Understanding the fragmentation in the muck-pile.3. Making a change (decision).4. Measuring the impact of the change and comparing it to a benchmark, and adjusting/pushing the performance envelope.Today, for the first time, we are able to see the blast fragmentation from overhead utilizing aerial drone photography. Location-specific fragmentation data is one of the important building blocks in the process of putting together that 360-degree picture. With the advancement of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) technologies, operations are realizing the benefits of new capabilities including aerial particle size analysis through photoanalysis, using existing UAS photographs taken for surveying and 3D profiling. Utilizing this tool allows us to make changes that will help us in future blasts, and it can also allow us to react to the current conditions by adjusting the mucking plan.