Minorca mine engineers go sky high for safety before blasts

Updated: October 27, 2020 05:39 PM

Blasting is a key part of the mining process. And to do it safely at ArcelorMittal's Minorca Mine in Virginia, it means a trip up over the pit in a plane!

The company uses Taconite Aviation to fly over the pit and make sure the area is clear and good to go.

Bill Ellingson, a mine engineer, said, "We all have procedures in place to clear the surrounding area. While the use of planes isn't a requirement, it helps us achieve our goal in an effective and safe manner."

He added that since there's such a long history of mining in the region, there are many abandoned roads. Plus, there are recreational trails. "We want to make sure there aren't any broken down ATVs or hunters in the blast radius," he said. It can be harder to see that kind of thing on the ground, especially in the summer months.

And the pilot can take temperature readings to make sure conditions are right for the blast.

The plane stays in the area before, during, and after the blast, to make sure things go smoothly. "We want to make mining as safe as possible," Ellingson said.

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