It is self-evident that economic pressure demands that today’s mines stay ahead and stay competitive. The challenge, however, is to find fresh approaches in the quest to attain maximum efficiency and optimal operational effectiveness.

One such nascent approach is to consider the optimization of the whole value-adding process of mining rather than focusing on individual activities in isolation, a process that can lead to poor investment decisions in critical areas of operation.

This concept is oftencalled ‘mine to mill’. It is never easy to establish optimal relationshipsbetween different mining operations, but there is one aspect that affects all operations: the quality and consistency of fragmentation.

In many instancesan inability to control fragmentation during blasting has been unchallenged,leading to significant investment in time and money to manage the consequences of such variation.

This talk discusses the use of electronic detonators in providing a solution to poor and inconsistent primary blasting.

Electronically programmed detonators provide not only the ability to vary a key parameter, namely timing, but also the opportunity to extract blast data to improve subsequent blasts.

The current understanding of the effect oftiming, accuracy, and scatter on rock fragmentation is reviewed and offers reasons why there is significant progress in controlling blast results.

As greater certainty of blast results is achieved so it is possible to tune the outcome to optimize the performance of downstream processes.

The ability to predictably alter blasting variables, such as fragmentation, throw, wall stability, and vibration, using feedback from the downstream process, is
a huge advantage.

Two case studies are examined, which demonstrate the benefits of the technology on the economics of the operations under review.






After graduating in 1983 from the University of Pretoria in mining engineering,
Gys worked in the mining division of Iscor. Experience was gained in
coal and iron ore mining, both on surface and underground. Apart from production
supervision, and management, he was involved in mine planning and mechanization projects.
In 1988 he moved from Iscor to the University of the Witwatersrand to lecture in mining
engineering. His researches led to a PhD in Mining Engineering. He lectured and consulted in
the fields of mineral economics, rock breaking, and mine design. Gys joined the explosives company,
AEL, in 1994 as technical services manager, managing the technical group, Blast Consult.
He moved to sales and marketing as business manager for underground mining, concentrating
on the narrow reef gold and platinum sectors.  He introduced paid service concepts such as value
added blasting and successfully introduced performance related business contracts in this sector.
Gys joined the board of AEL in the late nineties and in 2000 became executive director markets
of AEL. His role included all markets and business operations in  South Africa and the African
continent. At the beginning of 2007 Gys was appointed as the chief executive officer of DetNet,
a joint venture company between AECI Ltd and Dyno Nobel Ltd. DetNet designs and supplies
leading edge electronic initiation systems used worldwide by global mining houses.