Blasting conference for the world's experts

When all the world's experts in blasting are gathered in Luleå for conferencing, Itasca is obviously there as well! The Chief Technical Officer of Itasca, Jason Furtney, tells about  Itasca's role in successful blasting for diamond extraction. 

Researchers, industry, consultants, and students – everybody is there when the symposium FRAGBLAST 12 is held at "Kulturens Hus" in Luleå. The symposium series started in 1983 on an initiative from the Luleå University of Technology (LTU), and Luleå is now hosting the event again, when hundreds of experts, from 35 countries, gather to exchange new research results.

– I have already had an interesting talk with a student at LTU, and I look forward to meet clients and industry people during these days, says Jason Furtney, who has traveled to Luleå from Minneapolis to participate in the conference.

He tells about the analysis tools for rock blasting that make Itasca unique in the business.

Itasca's model saves diamonds

– To help De Beers, which mines for diamonds on South Africa, we have developed a numerical model that makes it possible to design blasts without damaging the diamonds. 

Jason Furtney says that Itasca developed discontinuum models and direct simulation of natural fracture networks (DFN models - Discrete Fracture Network) already in the 1970s, but that they more recently have developed this much further, through an extensive research project conducted jointly with the mining industry as well as universities in the U.K. and Australia. 

– The software BloUp is unique in that we can predict the entire process, with all its stages, using a single computer code. We can initiate the blast, model the propagation of the blast wave in the rock, and predict the movement of the blast. BloUp does all of this, says Jason, and goes on to say that the computer program is owned jointly by Itasca, and the participating research institutes and mining companies. 

Showcases the wide competence

Ulf Lindfors says that the research project with BloUp also has led to improvements for other Itasca software. 

– During blasting, one can sometimes be interested in predicting vibrations. Perhaps one wants to avoid mixing ore and waste rock. We have the competence to solve every individual problem, says Ulf Lindfors. 

He and Jason Furtney are responsible for the Itasca booth, where the company is showcasing its wide competence. 

– The symposium is targeted at blasting, but we show that we know blasting, mine design, rock support, open pit design - and that we understand the relations between these topics. 

Ulf & Jason at the Itasca booth at FRAGBLAST