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MINING ENGINEERING SEMINAR: “Valdez, Alaska: Glacier Pit – One Shot/One Chance for Success”

March 14 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Richard O'Meara“Valdez, Alaska: Glacier Pit – One Shot/One Chance for Success” Presented by Richard O’Meara


During the summer of 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sought proposals to vastly improve and expand the small boat harbor in Valdez, Alaska. It would be a two-year project, and construction was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015.

One aspect of the project was the construction of a 3,100-foot rubble-mound breakwater to protect a mooring basin. An estimated 208,500 tons of rock, ranging in size from 160 pounds to 3,500 pounds, were needed to build the breakwater. The Glacier Pit quarry was selected as the rock source due to its proximity to the project and the quality of the rock meeting all of the USACE rock standards. The Glacier Pit presented many challenges. The most significant obstacle was having no access to the top of the quarry. Therefore, a road had to be pioneered to the top and across the 160-foot face. Once a road was established to the top of the quarry, we had to develop a drill pad / bench for our large DTH drill. After clearing, grubbing, drilling and blasting for nearly three months, we finally had our large drill up on the bench; production drilling could begin. Once the drill was on the pad, the proper drill pattern, hole locations, and hole angles were established using laser profiling. Electronic detonators were chosen for this blast. We determined that the laser profiling, along with the precision of electronic detonators, would be critical components to maximize recovery for our customer. The Armor Rock (1,000 lbs. – 3,500 lbs.) was the targeted material size for this blast, with the smaller rock being a by-product. Due to the inability to access the area after the initial blast, it was crucial that the majority of the material needed would be produced in the one shot to ensure success.

This presentation will discuss the challenges that were encountered and the solutions that were implemented in order to achieve a successful blast that had an even higher yield of in spec rock than anticipated.


Richard O’Meara holds a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from the University Nottingham in the UK (1987) and an MBA from the Ohio State University (1998). Richard started with Nobel’s Explosives, which became ICI Explosives, in the UK in 1987 and provided Technical Engineering support throughout Europe and for the Zambian Copper mines. In 1992 he joined the Austin Powder Company in the US and provided technical support throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. After earning his MBA, Richard joined Andersen Consulting, that later became Accenture, working as a consultant for numerous global mining, and other industry, clients before joining the Explosives company Orica in 2008. For 6 years Richard ran the North and South American Supply Chain teams handling logistics, inventory management, procurement and customer service. Returning to the technology side of the business, Richard was the US Technical Services Director from 2014 through 2017 supervising a team of highly qualified Explosives Engineers who support blasting operations around the country. He is now the US Senior Commercial Director overseeing technical innovation, national accounts management and business development.


Wednesday, March 14

4-5 PM

Brown 125


March 14
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Room Number
Brown 125


Brown Hall
1610 Illinois St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States
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