In what Hastings Deering says is a first for Queensland, a Caterpillar MD6250 rotary blasthole drill has been delivered to contractor Mining and Civil Australia (MACA).
The delivery to Bluff coal mine, east of Blackwater, is the first drill of its kind to enter the territory for works in the open-pit coking coal operation and was done with precise logistical planning, according to the Cat dealer.
Commencing its journey in Caterpillar’s Denison factory in Texas, US, the MD6250 was transported in components to Brisbane where it launched a 615-km journey by road to Rockhampton.
The transportation of the machine was done across three trucks, including two large prime movers to haul the chassis and mast, as well as a smaller truck to transport the smaller accessories and parts.
In Queensland, heavy vehicles and road trains are restricted to 80 km/h speed due to safety regulations, with the journey from Brisbane to Rockhampton taking two days to complete.
“The MD6250 doesn’t have the size of footprint of an off-highway haul truck, for example, but it is still big enough that we required a pilot vehicle and police escort to make the journey safely,” Adam Davis, Product Manager for Drills and Large Motor Graders at Hastings Deering, said.
Once the components were delivered, Hastings Deering’s team of engineers set aside a week to assemble the drill before delivery to the Bluff mine site to the west of the city.
Thanks to a 10-year contract with Carabella Resources (now owned by Wealth Mining), MACA manages both the drill-and-blast and load-and-haul operations at the Bluff mine, in what was a A$700 million ($487 million) deal for the company.
The advanced features on the crawler-mounted Cat MD6250 drill are set to maximise fuel efficiency and improve drilling for the contractor, Hastings Deering says. Its features include a Cat C27 engine, variable compressor output controls, drill depth indicators and virtual head stops for operators.
The drill is likely to offer far more than just the expected productivity benefits at Bluff, though.
Davis explained: “It’s an interesting site as there are restrictions around noise. MACA had experience with the MD6250’s predecessor model and believed they could get the same value and production out of the new model.
“The MD6250 has proportional hydraulics, which means the machine makes less noise during operation and the fan circuit only operates when it needs to. The machine only creates horsepower when needed, which cuts down on heat, noise and energy.”
Davis says the mine’s purchase of the MD6250 drill is in line with an industry trend towards using high-tech, mid-size drills suited to drilling holes smaller than the 270 mm sizes.
The MD6250 is equipped with a hole diameter range of between 152–250 mm.
“In places like the Hunter Valley, in New South Wales, it’s the norm to go for mid-size machines with this kind of technology, and it’s possible that this could also happen in Queensland in the future,” Davis said. “Once the larger coal seams begin to shrink in size and the work moves to higher-grade coal seams, smaller machines are used as they are better suited to such applications.”