Nov 17, 2020

Steady as she blows at Ravenswood Gold

Steady as she blows at Ravenswood Gold Orica’s uni tronic 600 Electronic Blasting System.

Orica and Roc-Drill have won the contract to deliver drill and blast services to Ravenswood Gold in historic Ravenswood, west of Townsville.

The agreement builds upon the joint service agreements the companies already have in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

Project owner EMR GEAR Consortium is going full steam ahead to develop the Ravenswood Expansion Project, as detailed in plans first set in place by Perth-based Resolute before it sold the operation earlier this year.

The expansion project will see the gold operation, now processing low-grade stockpiles, step up production with a return to open-pit mining beginning with the Buck Reef West deposit.

The contract is more than just a supply agreement, says Orica area business manager for eastern Australia, Pacific and New Zealand metals, James Kirkpatrick.

“It comes with the technical services needed to ensure that we adhere to the environmental constraints that have been placed on the mine site by the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) with regards to monitoring, measuring and controlling environmental impacts of blasting,” Mr Kirkpatrick said.

“Orica carried out all that prework over the last 24 months to ensure the project was able to be executed within those boundaries. We will not just supply explosives, but also help maintain the mine’s licence to operate.

“While we were doing the project at Nolans East cutback in 2018, we captured measurements and conducted trials with different projects to ensure that we could limit the environmental impacts as we moved over closer to town and to historic buildings at Bucks Reef.”  

There’s also a new urgency in the gold industry, At the end of January, April and October the gold price rose to $AU2600/oz, $AU2366/oz and $AU2679.70/oz respectively. 

Orica’s challenge was to scale what was a quarry-sized excavation to a mine-sized operation in a sensitive environment, territory manager Queensland metals Ben Horsfield said.

“The mine is in the same proximity to the town, residents and heritage sites, as a standard quarry,” Mr Horsfield said. “Obviously that’s a bit more of a technical constraint in that sense. Accurate control of energy during blast initiation is a critical component for good blasting outcomes.  By utilising our Uni tronic 600 Electronic Blasting System this  allows the desired blasting to be achieved”.

“So, the mine site is working on getting electric trucks, soundless drill-rigs and all the other attributes that help mitigate any noise. 

“The work that the specialist team has done is more technical than I’ve ever seen, to the point now where we’re going to be doing the ‘site law’ and utilising that data.” 

The Ravenswood deposit also had a challenging geology, Mr Horsfield said.

Throw in the requirements of the processing team for 80 per cent of rock fragments coming within specification and you come up with an interesting equation, he said.

“We have our new BlastIQ technology program being implemented on site, and that’s going to utilised live data tracking from dipping holes.

“Even on the drill rigs, we’re going to be downloading the data, live data, to our servers and we can track all the loading parameters, all the actuals versus design in our BlastIQ system. 

“So, as they do the blasts and do reconciliation, we can actually find out what fragmentation we’ve obtained from the different blasts in the different areas. That’s the really exciting aspect of the technology offering that we’re delivering.”

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