With the support of METS Ignited, IMDEX, in partnership with Universal Field Robots (UFR) have created and commercialised an innovative autonomous robotic platform to improve the quality of ore mined through better blasting practices. This initiative will deliver significant safety, productivity and sustainability improvements for the sector.
The technology has been commercialised as BLAST DOG™ – a breakthrough mining support technology that will now be utilised at Iron Bridge, an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB, in the Pilbara under a new three-year agreement.
The agreement is the first commercial application of BLAST DOG and provides for a staged utilisation which IMDEX estimates will generate revenue of $13 million over the initial term.
IMDEX chief executive officer Paul House said the company’s win of the Iron Bridge contract was a defining moment for the company.
“This is homegrown technology designed to provide meaningful, quantifiable benefits for the mining industry,” he said.
“We are not aware of any other technology that has the capacity to produce the same quantity and quality of pre-blast rock data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes.”
IMDEX chief geoscientist Dave Lawie said the company overcame many obstacles, including mine access issues caused by COVID, to deliver the project in Australia and the Americas.
“It is recognition for five years of intense effort spanning the USA, Queensland, Western Australia and Chile in conjunction with our METS Ignited project partners,” he said.
“In addition to the work for the Iron Bridge joint venture, we are involved in ongoing, pre-commercial trials across various operations in Australia, Canada, and Chile.”
METS Ignited CEO Adrian Beer said this project leverages the resources sector’s strong commitment to innovation and continuous improvement.
“Companies in Australia’s resources sector are consistently striving to deliver environmental and economic sustainability,” he said.
“Partnering with Australian entrepreneurs enhances this and provides a valuable growth opportunity for Australia’s emerging robotics sector.”
BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blast hole sensing and physicals measurement technology and is semi-autonomously deployed for logging material properties and blast hole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine. It provides material physical property measurements prior to blasthole drilling to inform decisions regarding blasting, screening, blending and stockpiling, among others, before these materials are subject to processing. These properties form the inputs to a tactical approach to ore characterisation and processing.