HxGN RadioPodcast

Changing the drill and blast game

Tracking blast movement is a challenging process, and accuracy is essential for creating smarter, more profitable mines. In this episode of HxGN RADIO, Jacques Janse, CEO of newly acquired BMT and Hexagon Mining CTO, Rob Daw, explore how the inclusion of leading technology from BMT in Hexagon’s drill and blast solution is transforming operations worldwide.

NJ:  Accurately tracking blast movement is essential for mines striving to be smarter and more sustainable. It’s a variable process that can cost mines millions of dollars in lost revenue per year. Hexagon’s formidable drone blast solutions now include leading technology from BMT, empowering customers with accurate blast information and enabling them to extract greater profit from every blast.

Thanks for tuning in. Hi, I’m Neville Judd from HxGN Radio. In January, Hexagon acquired BMT, a pioneer in blast movement monitoring and analysis for open pit mines. Here to discuss what this means for customers and the industry is BMT CEO, Jacques Janse, and Hexagon’s Mining Division CTO, Rob Daw. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us today.

RD:  Thanks, Nev.

JJ:  Thank you, Nev. A pleasure to meet you.

NJ:  So, Rob, let’s start with you. Before we discuss the technology, put into a broader perspective why it’s so important for a mine to get its blast right.

RD:  Yeah. Good question. I think if we look at the drill and blast, where it fits in the lifecycle of our mining value chain, it is one of the first activities that we perform, and the downstream impact that it can have of not getting it right is significant—everything from our productivities within the escalators and getting material out all the way, through to our mill and making sure we can get the right throughputs there. So, it really is invaluable for us to get this right. And then we add in all the tracking and dilution capabilities here as well. That really is critical. There are massive savings and impact it can have in mining operations.

NJ: Jacques, BMT specialises in blast movement, monitoring and analysis. Tell us how the solution works.

JJ: Thanks, Nev. Well, I think it’s best explained if I tell a bit of a story, and I normally start by saying miners spend millions of millions of dollars through the exploration process to try and find and define where their ore blocks are. Then they spend millions of dollars digging to where they believe the ore blocks are, and then they blow it up and don’t know where it is. And so, this is where BMT and its solution actually creates its value, is we keep the knowledge of the ore block before and after the blast. So, once we do this, we actually just give an output from our solution, which is the correct dig lines, to show that you can recover the ore block and get the value that you thought you would from that ore block. So, we have a very unique and patented solution of blasting with monitors that we put in the ground. They can transmit their location through 20 meters of rock! And what we essentially do is, we take the 3D position in space before the blast, we look at the 3D position in space after the blast, take those vectors, put it in our software, which then analyse how the ore mass has moved so that the miners can basically dig in the right spot and maximise their ore yield.

NJ:  Rob, Hexagon already has an impressive drill and blast solution. How does BMT’s solution fit in?

RD:  Yeah, it’s really complementary. As you mentioned, we have a quite an impressive drill and blast solution that covers everything from our design aspect into our execution. We had some areas in the simulation and measure, and this really complements the measure aspect of the drill and blast cycle and then the reconciliation. So, by bringing this information, this data is really closing a loop in our full drill and blast lifecycle, which adds significant value for our clients even further now.

NJ:  Jacques, what does being a part of Hexagon now mean for your customers?

JJ:  Neville, I think our customers should be quite excited because BMT in the last four years has grown rapidly and is expanding around the world as we go into different regions. We have expanded our customer base from 40 customers four years ago to 122 customers today. So, the focused areas for growth for us are South America and Russia, and our customers, I think, would welcome this change because we are forging into Russia and specifically into Brazil right now, where BMT has absolutely no presence. And so, with joining the Hexagon family, suddenly there is a presence in Brazil, and our customers can expect that we can service them in their language, in their time zone. I’m sure that will excite our customers and accelerate our growth.

NJ:  Rob, what can Hexagon’s mining customers expect?

RD:  Yeah. Very similar. I think it’s exciting to be able to bring a brand like this into the family, really integrating them into the business and really running faster with the whole technology. So, we’ll continue to innovate. We’ll continue to push the boundaries on what we can deliver, both from the BMT business as well as the Hexagon business. And then from a solution standpoint, on the technology front, we’ve definitely already got plans coming together and formulating very quickly on how we create this fully integrated solution for our customers to make it even easier to use our systems.

And also, I wanted to take the opportunity while we’re here to announce that we are launching a brand-new portfolio that is focused solely on drill and blast. So, we’ll have our mine drill and blast portfolio, which Jacques is actually going to be heading up. And what that really enables us to have is a clear view on the drill and blast process across all of our products, creating a solution for our clients that is really unparalleled. And that’s not just from a technology point of view, but also from our services and support aspect. It really does put a strong focus on drill and blast so that our clients can maximise the value of their investment.

NJ:  Exciting times ahead. Jacques, describe your personal satisfaction at seeing BMT become part of the Hexagon family.

JJ:  Neville, I am quite excited to join the Hexagon family! You know, up to now, BMT has been very successful, but if we are truthful about it, we have been acting with our customers in what they experience to be a point solution. So, although the value we bring—the return on investment—is great, the customer always has to talk to a single BMT person. So, with joining the Hexagon suite of products and the family actually means that we now have access to the upstream and the downstream solutions that make this portfolio complete. And so, it’s quite exciting because in our focus in growing by ourselves, we were very successful. But we also know that we would have very soon reached a plateau in that growth. And so, joining the Hexagon family, it just gives us that step up we’re looking for in our growth.

NJ:  And Rob, the news is still fairly fresh, but what’s the reaction to this acquisition been like within Hexagon and from your customers?

RD:  Yeah. Nothing but positive news coming from it. So, both, I think if we look at our customer aspect, I’ve already had a number of people in the industry come up to me and say that was a great acquisition for Hexagon; that really does fit into your portfolios. And they’re really excited to see where we’re all going to take this into the future. And then, within Hexagon, I think there’s been a really steep learning curve for a lot of our groups around the world in terms of what BMT is capable of, and they’re excited. They’re excited to be able to take that out to our existing clients, push that message, and really, again, continue to add that value that we’re all trying to give to our customers out in the mining industry.

NJ:  Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us today. A big thank you to our guests, Jacques Janse and Rob Daw. For more information about today’s topic, visit blastmovement.com and hexagonmining.com. To watch or listen to additional episodes, visit hxgnspotlight.com. Thanks for tuning in.