Orica and Epiroc are joining forces to develop a semi-automated explosives delivery system, enabling safer and more productive blasting operations in underground mines.

This partnership will bring together the two companies’ expertise in the field to address the growing demand from customers mining in increasingly hazardous and challenging underground conditions.

Together, the companies will combine Orica’s wireless initiating system WebGen and Epiroc’s automation strategies in the first steps to achieving their vision of automated drill and blast operations.

The companies expect the first prototype system in 2020, with the first commercially available systems to come into service in 2021.

“This promising collaboration with Orica is an important first step on an exciting journey toward automating the whole drilling and explosives charging process,” Epiroc senior executive vice president for mining and infrastructure Helena Hedblom said.

“It is a vital part of both Epiroc’s and Orica’s vision of making the mining operation as safe, productive and cost efficient as possible.”

As mine operations go deeper and ore bodies become more remote, implementing blasting automation becomes more necessary to keep up with the growing demand for commodities.

Orica chief commercial officer and technology officer Angus Melbourne said the partnership would leverage the exclusive WebGen wireless initiating system to deliver the first crucial steps towards the automation of drill and blast operations.

“Automation is a key pillar of our technology strategy and supports our vision of transforming drill and blast to unlock mining value by creating safer and more sustainable operations,” Melbourne said.

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