Johannesburg - May 2010 - International leader and innovator in commercial explosives and blasting solutions, AEL Mining Services, has stepped in and deployed its electronic detonator technologies to shrink the size of a barge that had posed a major threat to Saldanha Bay and the residents that live there.
The Margaret Barge carrier, which was being towed to Holland when stormy weather caused it to break loose near Saldanha Bay, a natural harbour on the south-western coast of South Africa near Cape Town, was posing a major threat.
"Carrying a cargo of 12 river barges and two floating dry docks valued at around R300 million, it soon became evident that something had to be done when trying to salvage the barge became too costly for the owner", says Neill Liebenberg, regional manager at AEL.
“The SA Maritime Safety Authority, or SAMSA, stepped in as fears of the barge breaking up and floating into the shipping lanes grew and it was decided that the size of the wreck needed to be vastly reduced," adds Liebenberg.
AEL's Somerset West regional office in the Cape was contracted in to supply the explosives and initiation system required by Smit Marine South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
“Impending bad weather and tides allowed for only a small window of opportunity for the blast to take place and, as an initiative of this kind, so close to residential areas, had to be clean and precise with the likelihood of misfires being nil, we opted to use electronic detonators as our initiating system for the blast.”
According to Liebenberg, AEL's SmartDet electronic detonators were the initiating system of choice due the ability to communicate easily and remotely, which is a criteria in this type of marine demolition.
“In a case like this, if one single charge had failed to detonate, the entire demolition project could have failed,” he says. “SmartDet incorporates a chip that helps ensure that all detonators are functioning at the time of the scheduled blast, that none are faulty or improperly timed and, therefore, are reliably able to remotely assure the operator that the possibility of misfires has been negated.”
AEL’s SmartDet system offers several advantages, one of which being that the control equipment can communicate with each individual detonator in the blast, thus allowing detection of any problems prior to initiation. Once the fire button is pressed and detonators armed, all detonators will initiate even if the wires are damaged during the blast.
So, on the morning of 4th March 2010, the town of Jacobs Bay, recently evacuated by the South African Police Service, was rocked by the detonation of approximately two and a half tons of commercial explosives and Margaret Barge was reduced to almost half of her original size.
The top six barges were tipped into the sea and towed to Saldanha Bay. If they are found to be sound, they will be sold to defray costs.
View the video cast of the demolition on the website.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF AEL MINING SERVICES LIMITED
For more information, please contact Vuyiswa Vivi Majova