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High-tech solutions in quarry design and stockpile management


Drill and blast companies are not where you would expect to find leading edge technology being used to help quarries manage pit design, measure stockpiles and resource volumes all while improving safety.

Impact Drill & Blast has been using drones to do profile surveying of benches for its digital drilling and blasting design software for many years, saving hours of walking the bench with a GPS rover. More recently the drone has been coupled with GPS-guided drills which has sped up the delivery of broken rock for its customers.

Impact Drill & Blast is a familiar name in the quarries of Victoria and South Australia. However, the company and name grew with the amalgamation of three family-owned drill and blast companies in early 2019 and now operates across the country.  

Managing director Rui Chen said that the new business model is to use technology to help improve customers’ operations and improve their own efficiency. “We use drones and a new blast design software to produce digital images to get the most out of the blasting,” he said. “Our Sandvik GPS-guided drills reduce the time spent doing mark-ups.  We have converted 100 per cent of blasting to electronic detonators for more accurate timing and better control of the blast. This has improved safety during loading and blasting as well as delivering downstream cost savings for our customers.” 

The Impact technical support or shot firer flies the drones to profile the face and create a digital 3D image of the area to be blasted when designing the drill pattern.  The first time on-site they do the initial set up of ground control points (GCP) for the survey. Once these are established, the drone is flown and what could have taken half a day to survey is done in a fraction of the time.  

The data is retrieved from the drone and the software creates a 3D image of the area.  “We can provide this information to our customers for stockpile volume measuring, or they can use the topographical info for designing pits, drains and roads,” said North Queensland operations manager Luke Payne. “The drone also allows us to capture high resolution videos and photographs, all of this from a drone that is less than
two kilograms.”

Measuring stockpiles and blasted rock reserves was a natural progression for the company to provide a fully integrated service to its customers.  One Central Queensland quarry receives a 3D model of its current pit, benches, broken rock stocks and processed stockpiles monthly.  The volume measurement of the broken rock stock allows the quarry to estimate when the next blast will need to be done, leading to better planning and a more efficient operation.

Drones are just some of the innovations assisting quarries with pit design, stockpile measurement and resource volumes.

The current practice for most quarries is to have staff walking on stockpiles to measure them while equipment works nearby, and the shot firers walk the bench marking up the location of drill holes for the driller. For
safety management, many sites were stopping operations while the manual
survey was conducted, as people are exposed to hazards and risks that could be reduced or eliminated.  

When Impact Drill & Blast conducts a drone survey in the pit, people are away from equipment, the operation does not have to stop, and safety is improved.    

Digital imaging technology has enhanced the information that is already available to Impact’s customers through its We Manage website.  We Manage allows customers to log in and access information and reports for the activities Impact has conducted on-site, including safety, pre-starts, drill data, blast reports and blast videos. We Manage is included as part of Impact Drill & Blast’s integrated solution and the customer can download the data at any time.

Through use of drones, digital imaging and design, GPS drilling and new blasting technology, Impact Dill & Blast is delivering value to its customers by offering a fully integrated service. 

For more information on its survey and design service, dial 1800 2 IMPACT or email info@impactdrillblast.com

Source: Impact Drill & Blast

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