Innovation and Technology

Left to right: Luis Grijalva; Taylor Greer, Engineer in Training, Elkview Operations; Adam Bondi, Senior Engineer, Supervisor, Mining at Elkview Operations.

Connecting Data Systems Delivers Real Value at Elkview Operations

Elkview Operations’ drill and blast optimization project got a major boost with the help of RACE21™, through an initiative that helped bring together large amounts of data under one platform, allowing the team to interpret data much more quickly, and adjust blast pattern designs for optimal results.

Drilling and blasting are a key part of the steelmaking coal mining process, and significant effort is put into ensuring the process is as efficient and sustainable as possible, dust and vibrations are limited, and resource recovery is optimized.

Drill and blasting effectiveness is often measured by a term called “diggability”—a groundbreaking method first piloted at Elkview—that uses sensors mounted on shovels to help measure the ease or difficulty of digging conditions. Using diggability data helps to optimize the use of explosives and reduce blasting costs and equipment wear, which in turn helps maximize the productivity of shovels and lessens the impact on the environment.

With this next phase of advances driven by the RACE21™ program, Elkview has been able to gain additional insights from the shovel data, through advanced visualization, to optimize drilling and blasting operations even further.

“There is a large amount of data available from various sources in the blasting process, but it has always been very challenging and time-consuming to pull it all together and interpret it,” says Adam Bondi, Senior Engineer, Supervisor, Mining at Elkview Operations. “By connecting all the data under one platform, we can now analyze the information, leading to more informed and adaptable decision-making. Overall, it’s a much more sustainable process, setting us up for long-term savings.”

The insights are providing significant value, both in terms of lowered operating costs and improved sustainability performance. “When you’re using less explosives, you’re generating less dust and reducing nitrate leaching, which also contributes to better water quality and lower water treatment costs,” adds Adam. “By connecting our data systems, we’re seeing a real step change in our drilling and blasting operations, which is exciting to be a part of.”