Antapaccay achieves global first with three autonomous & electric blasthole drill rigs operating

In its own mine operation’s regular publication Revista Antapaccay, Edition 61, Peruvian copper mining company Minera Antapaccay talks about its impressive autonomous drill program progress. A year ago Minera Antapaccay marked a milestone both for itself and for parent company Glencore when its first autonomous drill rig went operational.

Today, it has four autonomous drilling rigs running (three electric and one diesel), demonstrating it says its commitment to the mining of the future. Antapaccay is using the OEM-agnostic ARDVARC system from FLANDERS.

Interestingly it points out that Minera Antapaccay is one of the first mining companies to implement drilling rig automation successfully on electric-cable powered rigs. It says there are only 9 drilling rigs in the world that are autonomous electric, of which 3 are in Peru at Antapaccay, 3 are in Chile and 3 are in Canada, though these other groups of three are not at single mining operations.

“Antapaccay is the first operation worldwide in achieving 3 autonomous electric drills…they can drill simultaneously in the same project through a standardisation of the drilling process with efficient operational discipline and high standards of security. Furthermore, we are the first operation in Peru to implement autonomy in electric drills,” highlighted Robert Copacondori, Manager of Organisational Transformation.

After its implementation, Antapaccay mine productivity has increased significantly, since the drilling rigs have reached availability figures of 92% and 93%, when manual drills have ranged from 72 to 83%. Victor Cuti, Autonomous Drilling Controller: “All this makes the process more efficient, modern and certain. One of our colleagues is already working with this new technology remotely from a control room equipped with state-of-the-art screens.”

“With automation we have noticed an improvement in drilling times, because the procedure has been modelled better this procedure, and this has improved both the performance and KPIs of the drilling rigs,” said Milton Trujillo, Superintendent of Drilling and Blasting. Furthermore, one of the main advantages is that you can have multiple drills autonomously operating simultaneously. Furthermore, with satellite navigation, you can position exactly where the rig should drill, and the depth of the drilling is calculated automatically.

Senior Operations Manager, Jorge Galarza refers to another advantage of the project in that it will allow Antapaccay to remove operators from more dangerous operational zones. They no longer have to expose themselves to climatic changes or other risks that can occur on a daily basis
in a traditional drilling operation. “From the control room, the work is more comfortable and calm, and we avoid being exposed to vibration and dust,” said Freddy Huamani, Drilling Operator.

Since the project started, there have been no safety incidents, helped by the fact that the drills are equipped with sensors which allow you to detect obstacles, voids and calculate the drilling burden and mesh spacing. This also means better collision avoidance.