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Orica has collaborated with De Beers at its Gahcho Kué diamond mine in Canada to reduce nitrate concentrations from drill and blast processes by 79 per cent.

Since the mine’s inception, Orica and De Beers have worked together to mitigate the environmental impact of blasting.

The companies’ latest innovation started when the environmental monitoring team at Gahcho Kué noted increasing nitrate levels in mine water, a known issue with bulk mining explosives.

Although nitrate and ammonium levels were within regulatory limits, De Beers proactively sought to reduce nitrate generation.

In 2020, De Beers engaged Orica to review the drill and blast process to align with industry best practices and improve safety and efficiency.

Orica applied its nitrate risk reduction framework, a three-tiered approach to systematically reduce nitrate contributions from blasting in water.

The nitrate risk reduction framework is a collaborative effort to manage and reduce nitrate on a mine site, from bulk plant to blasting operations.

The framework follows three simple steps: engaging the site, conducting an in-depth audit, and implementing a solution using a combination of products and services.

“Partnering with our valued client De Beers since the start of mining operations at Gahcho Kué has shown the true power of teamwork,” Orica technical service lead Steve Jackson said.

“Their insights, dedication, and trust have ensured the success of the nitrate emission reduction project.”

Upon completing the pilot program and a rigorous eight-month evaluation, the site transitioned to using Fortis Protect 70 as the primary bulk explosive at the end of 2022.

The environmental team at Gahcho Kué regularly monitors nitrate concentrations in mine water. Year-to-year results show a 79 per cent decrease in nitrate levels in 2023 compared to 2017.

“Orica’s nitrate risk reduction framework is not just about tackling nitrate leaching; it is about forging a sustainable future for our customers,” Orica surface explosives marketing manager Yosep Irsana said.

“Our collaboration with key partners like Gahcho Kué highlights our commitment to effective frameworks.”