Many open pit mining operations seek to control blasting-related movement of ore and waste to minimise loss and dilution. Tracking the movement of ore boundaries can result in the maximisation of ore recovery and minimisation of waste sent to the mill, thereby optimising the economic performance of the operation.
A novel solution for tracking the ore–waste boundary location before and after a blast uses subsurface markers placed along the boundary with all measurements and scans conducted remotely from the blast block. Upon system activation, user-operated equipment on the surface determines the three-dimensional (3D) location of the subsurface markers.
The patented system concept combines two electromagnetic mechanisms, magnetic positioning and radio frequency through-rock communications to enable remote battery-powered markers, buried within the rock to be accurately located in 3D space.
Field trials at a quarry have demonstrated the system can comfortably handle over 100 subsurface markers with a complete scan, including set-up, taking less than an hour. Location accuracy for each marker in 3D space is better than 0.5 m at a range up to 50 m from the magnetic source, and the system has an overall operational range in excess of 75 m.
Blay, K R, Spathis, A T and Leslie, K E, 2015. A remote, rapid and accurate three-dimensional ore waste boundary tracking system, in Proceedings 11th International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, pp 297–306 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).