Orica minimises nitrate risk from explosives

Orica has successfully formulated the Fortis Protect range of bulk explosives that will minimise nitrate leaching risk arising from blasting operations

Fortis 1Technological enhancements to Orica’s MMU will ensure delivery of the optimal emulsion refinement characteristics into blast holes. (Image source: Orica)

Nitrate in mines’ effluent hold the potential to cause long term environmental damage due to prolonged periods of nitrates being washed out from historical waste dumps.

In response, Orica has developed a holistic management framework and solution to reduce the risk of nitrate leaching resulting from the use of ammonium nitrate-based explosives.

Angus Melbourne, Orica’s chief technology officer, commented, “Orica is adopting a stronger Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) position, and one of the ways we are doing that is by focusing on the areas where we have the expertise the make the biggest impact.

“Given the use of ammonium nitrate bulk explosives carries with it the risk of nitrate leaching into groundwater, our teams have embarked on a project to better understand the causes and risks and we are proud to have developed a viable solution to enable mines to conduct blast operations without having to compromise on explosive energy which has subsequent downstream cost and productivity impacts on drilling, excavation on mineral processing.”

Orica’s approach to nitrate management includes an established framework to understand nitrate pathways in mining operations and identify the appropriate solution that will minimise nitrate risk. The Nitrate Risk Reduction framework comprises a three-pronged holistic approach that investigates the fundamental mechanisms for nitrate loss at a customer site, benchmarks existing approaches to best practices and recommends solutions to improve nitrate risk management.

Central to Orica’s Nitrate Risk Reduction framework is a specially formulated range of Fortis Protect bulk explosives products, developed with Orica’s emulsification technology to deliver the optimal stability and emulsion refinement characteristics into blast holes to minimise nitrate contribution to groundwater and post-blast NOx fumes.

The advanced formulation, designed for use in the most arduous wet blast hole applications is a result of combining advanced surface chemistry with increased viscosity to significantly improve resistance to dynamic water and reduce the risk of nitrate leaching from blast holes.

In addition, technological enhancements to Orica’s explosives delivery fleet of Mobile Manufacturing Units (MMU) have been made to further increase the rheology of Fortis Protect products as well as improve the hole loading configuration to reduce the risk of water entrapment in the product during loading.

The Nitrate Risk Reduction solution be featured at Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Africa.

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