Experts partner to fire semi-automated, wireless development blast at Kittilä mine
Epiroc and Orica, in partnership with Agnico Eagle, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution, at Agnico Eagle Mines Limited’s Kittilä mine in Finland. The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept to dramatically improve safety at the face during the charging cycle, which is one of the highest-risk activities in underground mining today.
The award-winning innovation enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin without compromising the quality of blast outcomes through the integration of Epiroc and Orica’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.
Milestone in blasting
The first successful blast was loaded and then fired wirelessly from surface on November 22, at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine in Finland. “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognised solutions and advanced rig control system, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry,” said Sami Niiranen, president of Epiroc’s Underground division.
Celebrating the milestone, Orica chief technology officer Angus Melbourne said: “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.
“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimisation benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring,” Melbourne added. “The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers, we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”
Avatel is ready for blast off
The first commercial implementation of Avatel began at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations in early 2023.