WebGen­™ wireless initiation technology wins 2018 Mining Magazine Award

29 Jan 2019

Orica has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Mining Magazine Award in the category of ‘Drill & Blast’. This international award recognises the development of the Temporary Rib Pillar (TRP) mining method using WebGen™, the world’s first truly Wireless Blasting System technology as an outstanding innovation.

The TRP is a revolutionary mining method that uses WebGen™ technology to extract ore pillars that previously could not be recovered in underground operations. Using this new method, the main ore of the panel can now be blasted and extracted while the TRP holds back the waste rock backfill. The inaccessible pillars can be blasted, delivering reduced dilution, increased truck fill factors and improved overall productivity.

In late 2016, Orica Senior Underground Blasting Specialist, Steve Piercey and the team identified an opportunity to use WebGen™ technology to reduce dilution in the production stopes. Musselwhite, an underground mine owned and operated by Goldcorp Inc. located in Ontario, Canada, has since implemented the TRP method in several areas of the mine where higher than normal dilution rates were being experienced. On average, a 34% reduction in dilution has been observed in those mining fronts. Goldcorp Musselwhite, Mine Production Coordinator, Holly Robinson acknowledged the positive impacts that WebGen™ technology has brought to their operations, saying: “It’s a game-changer for the long term”.

The key benefits validated by Goldcorp include:

  1. Improved Safety - The new mining method has led to significant safety improvements as the operators do not have to work adjacent to the open stope.
  2. Increased Productivity - Prior to this new method, the mine would fill the previous open stope with waste rock prior to blasting the next block and then remove some of the fill in order to make room (void) for the next blast. This re-handling of waste consumed valuable assets and resources that could be moving ore to the mill.
  3. Reduced Waste Dilution - A measurable improvement in the conditions of the stope walls has also been achieved leading to the reduction of waste dilution
Metric  TRP Case Study Blast Results  TRP Typical Blast Results 
Days mucked  33% Reduction  20% Reduction 
Avg. TPD  27% Improvement  14% Improvement 
Dilution  93% Reduction  34% Reduction 
Table 1 Summary of key production metrics at Musselwhite achieved using WebGen™

The WebGen™ system has proven itself as a key enabler in implementing new mining methods at Musselwhite and providing substantial improvements in safety, productivity and cost reduction. 

Further drill and blast geometries and mining methods utilising WebGen™ are now being explored at Musselwhite. Goldcorp Musselwhite, Chief Engineer, Billy Grace explains: “Since starting the TRP trials with WebGen™ in late 2016, our level of comfort with the technology has reached a point that discussing possible wireless applications is an integral part of our mine planning process. 

“The entire team is excited by the possibilities that WebGen™ opened up, and the new opportunities they are allowing for us to increase our productivity.” 

Orica congratulates Steve Piercey and the entire Orica and Musselwhite teams for their ground-breaking work developing and executing new mining methods at Musselwhite underground mine utilising WebGen™ technology.

Download the Musselwhite Case Study (PDF 406.6KB)

More information

For more information on the WebGen™ system please contact your local Orica representative or visit orica.com/wireless to explore the system.

Media Contact

Andrew Valler
Senior Manager, Global Marketing Communications
Mobile: +65 9233 0062
Email: andrew.valler@orica.com

About WebGen

WebGen™, signals a step-change in in-hole initiation and decisive step on the path towards full automation of drill and blast operations in the future.

The system provides for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through rock, water and air. This removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection to each primer in a blast and unlocks countless safety and productivity benefits for customers by eliminating the need for down-wires and surface connecting wires. 

Orica is now working to produce a wireless primer specifically for surface mining applications that will deliver greater flexibility to the open cut mining sector in coming years. This is a critical first step towards full automation of the drill and blast process across the underground and surface mining sectors, a long-term goal shared by both the mining industry and Orica.

For more information and to explore the WebGen™, please visit orica.com/wireless.

The novel mining method purposely leaves a section of the orebody stranded, in the form of a temporary pillar, charged with WebGen™ primers.

Looking back at the loaded wireless blast from the conventional wired mass blast. The red lighting indicates the position of the TRP loaded with WebGen™ primers