One engineer took a step backwards, by retrofitting, to take two steps forward for a miner's blasting needs.
The move from ANFO to emulsion forced a miner to review its equipment on site.
Technology is always marching forward, particularly in mining, and this can leave a mine with expensive and newly redundant machinery.
CBH Resources faced this problem at its Rasp underground zinc, lead, and silver mine in Broken Hill as it moved to a new blasting standard, however a clever piece of engineering saved the miner a huge headache.
Ammonium nitrate fuel oil has been the charging standard of underground hard rock miners for a number of years.
But since the new alternative, emulsion, was introduced more hard rock operators have made the switch as it provides them with better blast accuracy, increased safety benefits, and importantly reduced costs due to faster loading and application.
Emulsion explosives are specifically formulated for us in underground mining for long up-hole applications where uniform density and sensitivity throughout the explosive column is critical.
It's particularly suitable where pre-condition blasting of the ground is required to allow for optimal cave propagation.
On top of this emulsion explosives are not affected by static head pressures or dead pressing, which makes it ideal for use in long up-hole applications.
Which is why it was chosen as the new standard material for CBH's Rasp mine.
However it soon faced a new problem due to the change.
It had previously purchased Maclean Engineering's Mine-Mate AC-3 bulk ANFO charger for underground trackless mines earlier this year.
Suprahbhat Sarkar, CBH Resources Broken Hill Operations acting mine manager, explained that they initially purchased the AC-3 for development heading and long hole charging with ANFO.
The machine itself comes with a 1360 kilogram ANFO carrying capacity in single or dual tank configurations, has a compact multi-stage extension boom, room for blasting accessories, two stabilising jacks, and has rapid tramming from site to site.
It is designed for production hole charging, development drifting and breasting, bulk ANFO transport, and accurate explosives charging for precision blasting.
"It was originally bought as a standard AC-3 fitted with twin 750 ANFA kettles," Sarkar said.
"While the machine is versatile and can do development as well as long hole charging - it needed some modification for emulsion."
So the miner went back to the manufacturer Maclean Engineering .
With assistance from Maclean CBH's standard twin kettle ANFO rig was converted to emulsion, in a relatively painless, quick, and straightforward operation.
Maclean Engineering designed a fit for purpose base plate that enabled an Orica 2t emulsion package UG3008, for long hole open stopes, to be retrofitted.
The rig's original twin kettles and base are stored for future ANFO development.
Sarkar added that "rig availability is very good, maintenance is low and simple for fault finding, and common parts in are in-line with normal Australian market expectations - the spare parts are easily obtainable, with great follow up product support from Maclean Engineering".
He stated that their "customer care feedback before and after sales is excellent, and cost was also minimal".
The Rasp mine officially opened mid-last year, with annual production slated for around 34 000 tonnes of zinc metal concentrate, 28 000 tonnes of lead concentrate, and 1.1 million ounces of silver in the lead concentrate.
It employs 160 people and has a mine life of more than 15 years.