Tag Archives: blasthole drilling

Wallis Drilling wins three-year contract extension at Glencore’s Murrin Murrin op

Glencore has signed a three-year contract extension with Wallis Drilling to retain the drilling company’s services at Murrin Murrin in Western Australia’s Goldfields region, which will extend Wallis’ long-standing relationship at the Glencore-owned operation to over a quarter of a century, the service provider says.

Wallis Drilling is a local Western Australian business, founded in 1965 by Marty and Jamie Wallis, which has grown to over 300 employees, but remains a family run business today.

Wallis has provided services to Glencore’s Murrin Murrin operation for 24 years and the contract extension, running through to September 2025, will see Wallis Drilling continue to provide RC grade control and blasthole drilling at Murrin Murrin.

Murrin Murrin is a nickel-cobalt mining and processing operation between Leonora and Laverton in the north-eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia and currently provides work for over 1,000 employees and contractors.

Wallis Drilling Manager, Wayne Waters, oversees the Murrin Murrin contract, with his role previously being occupied by Grant Wallis who is now the Chief Operating Officer of the business.

Waters said: “Murrin Murrin, like Wallis, understands the importance of establishing and nurturing long-term relationships to create stability, which has been exemplified by the latest contract extension.

“This business certainty is beneficial to Wallis, but it also gives us the capacity to plan for the long-term on site at Murrin Murrin and deliver the best operational outcomes.”

Grant Wallis said: “Our work at Murrin Murrin has helped us grow from a small family business to one of Australia’s largest privately-owned minerals drilling companies, while still remaining true to our local WA roots.”

Nic Fenner, Head of Mining Technical Services at Murrin Murrin, said: “We are very proud to help grow local Western Australia businesses, like Wallis Drilling, and help be a part in their success stories.

“The strong relationship between Murrin Murrin Operations and Wallis has been underpinned by our shared values and culture. Murrin Murrin and Wallis both have many long serving employees with some even being the second generation in their family to work at Murrin Murrin.”

Epiroc to deliver automation-ready Pit Viper 271 XC rigs to CITIC Pacific’s Sino Iron mine

Epiroc says it has won a large mining equipment order from CITIC Pacific Mining in Australia to deliver a fleet of Epiroc Pit Viper 271 XC blasthole drill rigs.

The drill rigs will come with advanced automation features for use at the Sino Iron open-pit mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with the Pit Viper drills used to drill for magnetite. They build on the delivery of three other Pit Vipers the company made to the operation back in 2019.

The equipment order was booked in the September quarter of 2022 and is valued at more than SEK300 million ($26 million).

“Epiroc delivered Pit Viper rigs to the Sino Iron site in 2019, and we are proud to continue this productive partnership as CITIC Pacific Mining is expanding the mine while optimising productivity and safety,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said.

Xianglin Cheng, General Manager – Mining at CITIC Pacific Mining, added: “In the last three years, Epiroc has provided satisfactory after-sale services to help the three Pit Viper 351 drill rigs perform to expectation and has also successfully established mutual trust with CITIC Pacific Mining. The confidence and trust are the major reasons for us to choose Epiroc.”

The Pit Viper drills are manufactured in Texas, USA. They will be installed with automation features including AutoDrill, which allows for up to 100% of the hole drilling cycle to be in automatic mode with high consistency and reliability of operations; and AutoLevel, which minimises the time it takes to level and delevel and hence provides more time drilling, according to Epiroc.

Sandvik to equip Movitec with autonomous drilling solution at Codelco Rajo Inca

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has received a large order in Chile for surface mining equipment and its AutoMine® Surface Drilling solution from Movitec, a contractor on Codelco’s Rajo Inca open-pit project.

The order includes two Leopard™ DI650i down-the-hole (DTH) drill rigs and two Sandvik DR412i rotary blasthole drill rigs, including AutoMine® Surface Drilling systems for fully autonomous operations.

AutoMine Surface Drilling is an autonomous solution for a wide range of Sandvik iSeries surface drill rigs, designed to improve safety, reduce costs and increase productivity. It enables an operator to control multiple rigs remotely from a comfortable location in line-of-sight or a distant control room – improving working conditions and safety, Sandvik says.

Sandvik iSeries drill rigs are equipped with iDrill technology, a scalable automation platform that provides automation options and digital services designed to speed up the production process and support mining operations. Performance and navigation iDrill technologies work together to produce accurately placed, consistently clean and precision-drilled holes – delivering improved fragmentation, downstream throughput and asset utilisation.

“We are pleased to work with Movitec and Codelco on this project,” Emilio Vega, Business Line Manager for Automation, Sales Area Andean and South Cone at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “The AutoMine Surface Drilling solution will enable the customer to use the drill rigs to their full potential and boost productivity with capabilities for fully autonomous operations.”

The new order also includes one Sandvik D75KX rotary blasthole drill rig with added intelligence and improved operator ergonomics. Delivery will take place in two phases before year-end 2022, with fully autonomous operations ramping up in 2023.

“We thank Movitec for their well-placed confidence in the Sandvik brand and technology,” Patricio Apablaza, Vice President Sales Area Andean and South Cone at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “We look forward to supporting them in increasing the safety, productivity, profitability and quality of their operations.”

In addition, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions will also provide contractor Movitec with remote operation training and six months’ on-site service to ramp up support as they transition to autonomous operations.

David Hallett, Vice President Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Digital Mining Technologies Division, said: “We are excited to partner together with Movitec on their journey to adopt AutoMine Surface Drilling at Codelco’s Rajo Inca open-pit project. This project will play a significant role in establishing Sandvik’s position as a leading technology partner for autonomous surface mining within the Chilean and South American market.”

Codelco officially began the works of Rajo Inca last year, moving from underground mining to open-pit mining.

FLANDERS autonomous drilling solutions start up at Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine

The first FLANDERS autonomous drills are now up and running at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals operation in South Africa, with a third set to start up later this year.

FLANDERS CEO, John Oliver, and VP of International Operations, Willie Van Ryneveld, recently visited the mine in Limpopo, South Africa, where the first ARDVARC autonomous drills are now in operation in fully-autonomous mode.

The first two ARDVARC Autonomous drills were delivered on time and within budget to Mogalakwena, and the third Epiroc Pit Viper 271 XC drill is due to arrive at the FLANDERS South Africa workshop for conversion in May, the company said. The company said the first PV 271 XC drill recently drilled its first hole in fully-autonomous mode.

FLANDERS’ flagship ARDVARC automated drill control systems has been used around the world for more than 15 years, with more than 30 mine site deployments in this time.

The product suite is designed to facilitate customers to scale up automation at their own pace and covers all aspects of drill automation, from semi- autonomous to tele-remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using Command Centre control capabilities. ARDVARC Autonomous comprises a suite of tools for automating, analysing and optimising drilling production and processes, interconnecting with fleet management systems and other data acquisition technologies.

The company claims operations can achieve productivity gains of up to 30% when employing ARDVARC autonomous solutions by reducing downtime due to human factors such as shift changes and pauses of drilling during blasting operations.

TBS’ Collar Keeper blast hole solution goes commercial in Western Australia

Aquirian Limited’s TBS Mining Solutions Pty Ltd (TBS) has commenced commercialisation of its revolutionary Collar Keeper® System, with a fully commercialised, extended trial underway in Western Australia’s Northern Goldfields.

TBS is on-site with 60% of the mine site’s Epiroc T45 drill rigs converted for an extended commercial trial, it said.

This milestone follows the completion of its final in-field trials at the end of 2021, where 254 production holes were drilled, including 30 wet holes in difficult ground conditions, where The Collar Keeper System eliminated the requirement for costly and time-consuming collar piping, according to Aquirian.

While the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia delayed access to site, Greg Patching, Executive Director Business Development and Innovation, said: “We are thrilled to be finally in the field commencing the transition for our customers onto the Collar Keeper System. This marks a major milestone for the development and commercialisation of the system.”

TBS has also received strong interest from several overseas mining companies and received its first orders for a commercial trial to commence in Zambia in mid-late May, it said.

The company continues to work on the development of the Collar Keeper System, including expanding the range of drill rig applications and mechanisation of the system which will, in time, provide a pathway towards full automation for clients worldwide, it said.

The Collar Keeper System is a combination of Aquirian-developed, retrofittable drilling apparatus combined with its existing Collar Keeper. The technology represents a step change in managing blasthole quality and is targeted to provide a unique solution to a range of different blasting environments with global applications, the company said.

The initial focus for the technology is on mines operating in Western Australia with smaller-diameter holes in challenging ground conditions, where high-cost collar piping is traditionally used.

“The traditional method of collar piping has not changed in over 40 years and introduces significant hazards as well as cost, time and quality issues, and poor blast outcomes for clients,” the company said. “In addition, the poor blasting outcomes lead to further downstream costs in load and haul, and the processing of mined material.”

Epiroc boosts blasthole drilling power and flexibility with DM30 XC

Epiroc has introduced the DM30 XC blasthole drill for a variety of multi-pass rotary and down-the-hole (DTH) drilling applications, offering, the company says, 33% more power and many benefits to customers.

Built off the same platform as the Epiroc DM30 II, the DM30 XC is designed for maximum productivity and efficiency due to increased rotary torque, increased pulldown and a larger hole range capability. The DM30 XC is built to handle a 101-159 mm drill pipe and has a weight on bit up to 20,000 kg. The heavy-duty, crawler-mounted, hydraulic top-head drive drilling rig features a 9.1 m drill pipe change and a standard carousel.

“The DM30 XC is built tough for the most demanding jobs, and high quality at an excellent value is what sets it apart from other drills in its class,” Mark Stewart, Regional Business Manager, Epiroc Surface division, said. “The drill is designed for mining so the structural components will hold up to the heavy-duty cycles required in a mining drill. The robust frame and tower weldments are manufactured to last the lifetime of the machine.”

With a starter rod under the rotary head, the DM30 XC can achieve a total clean depth capacity of 45.1 m for multi-pass applications and 8.5 m for single-pass applications. High efficiency and a 1,136 litre fuel tank allow the rig to run for up to 16 hours before needing a refill for continuous operation. In addition, the smaller, compact footprint of the DM30 XC makes it easy to manoeuvre on tight benches and simple to transport over between pits.

No matter the customer’s need, the DM30 XC offers options to suit any application, according to Epiroc.

Customers can choose a low- or high-pressure compressor to create the right configuration for their drilling operation. A one-piece FOPS (Falling Object Protective Structure) rated cab with electric over hydraulic controls offers enhanced safety, visibility and operator comfort. The DM30 XC is easy to operate, especially for drillers who have experience in other DM series machines. The ergonomic controls layout allows immediate switchover from drilling to tramming mode, maximising time available to drill.

The DM30 XC is equipped with an Electronic Air Regulation System (EARS) that provides low load start up and easy adjustment of bailing air to save horsepower and lower fuel consumption, extending power component life and decreasing total cost of ownership.

Customers can add even more flexibility to their DM30 XC with Epiroc’s Rig Control System (RCS) Lite, which offers several safety and productivity features. It also provides a convenient foundation to add more functionality and technology options in the future without a major rebuild of the machine, Epiroc says.

RCS Lite allows all Epiroc rotary drills to have the same on-board display and system for consistent operator training and service. The modular RCS Lite solution offers customers three different packages to choose from.

Hexagon’s Mining division partners with Phoenix Drill Control on autonomous drill tech

Hexagon’s Mining division has signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Phoenix Drill Control, a technology company specialised in implementing autonomous technology to the open-pit, blasthole drilling process.

Applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine control to drill automation, Phoenix Drill Control’s autonomous drill technology overcomes the constraints typically associated with traditional drill automation platforms, such as removal or replacement of existing machine controls, extensive operator training and reliance on operator input, according to Hexagon’s Mining division.

AI algorithms monitor all input signals and take dynamic corrective action, without operator input and before catastrophic hole failure or a stuck drill bit occurs. Phoenix’s autonomous drilling platform has a proven production track record demonstrating that it outperforms the industry’s existing automated drills.

Optimised drill operations have the potential to significantly improve a mine’s bottom line by protecting machine life, ensuring high-quality blast holes and reducing overall drill costs, the company said. Consolidating the necessary technology into one connected platform is how Hexagon is helping to empower its customers’ autonomous future.

Ryan Hawes, COO, Hexagon’s Mining division, said: “Partnership with Phoenix Drill Control will further enhance Hexagon’s autonomous capabilities. Phoenix Drill Control’s simplified, scalable automation platform is commercially available immediately. It will bring profound benefits to customers, including faster decisions with greater accuracy, improved health and safety, greater efficiency by eliminating errors and a smaller environmental footprint.

“Like Hexagon, Phoenix Drill Control creates technology that is scalable and platform-agnostic. This ensures data is accurate, without operator induced noise, and does its best work, arming customers with a feedback loop that points the way to a safer, more productive and sustainable future.”

Mark Baker, President of Phoenix Drill Control, added: “We’re excited to partner with Hexagon and believe our collaboration will benefit customers. The combination of Phoenix’s AI technology with Hexagon will propel autonomous drilling to the forefront of the industry. After all, drilling is at the beginning of the mining process, and when done right, the entire value chain benefits.”

Collar Keeper System exceeds expectations in latest Western Australia field trial

Aquirian Limited says its wholly owned subsidiary, TBS Mining Solutions Pty Ltd, has completed the final in-field trials of its Collar Keeper® System.

The field trials were conducted at a gold mine in the Mid-West of Western Australia, on a blasthole track rig in both wet and dry conditions. The trial included full production testing over the course of seven continuous shifts irrespective of ground conditions, it said.

Over the course of the trial, 254 production holes were drilled including 30 wet holes in difficult ground conditions where The Collar Keeper System eliminated the requirement for costly and time-consuming collar piping, according to Aquirian. In addition, the system achieved significantly reduced drilling time for the wet holes, seeing greater than 50% improvement in drill yield in these areas. Importantly, the system maintained full hole depth across all the holes removing the need for any re-drills.

“This post-drill hole quality represents a significant shift in operational benefit for the industry, removing costly rework in redrills and duplication of blasthole dipping throughout the drill and blast cycle,” the company said. “With the improvement in drill cycle times, drill yield and the elimination of re-drills experienced during the trial, it is expected the Collar Keeper System will make a notable impact on reducing CO2 intensity per drill hole produced.”

Just last month, TBS entered into a binding technology Memorandum of Understanding with MACA Mining Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of MACA Ltd, looking at collaborating on the development and commercialisation of the Collar Keeper System.

Greg Patching, Executive Director Business Development & Innovation, said: “We are again thrilled with the performance of our Collar Keeper System in a variety of typical drilling conditions. The system’s ability to improve overall drill time across the holes and, more importantly, deliver repeatable quality blastholes irrespective of conditions was fantastic.”

TBS has entered preliminary discussions with several clients for the Collar Keeper System with commercialisation to begin in the September quarter of 2022. The company is targeting implementation on 12-15 track rig units by June 2022, generating revenue of approximately A$125,000-$200,000/mth ($88,836-142,107) on an ongoing basis. The current commercialisation focus will target approximately 200 blasthole track rigs operating on mines (excluding quarries) in Western Australia alone, noting that thousands of these rigs operate on mines globally.

David Kelly, Managing Director, said: “This is a really exciting time for Aquirian as we work towards realising the commercialisation of the Collar Keeper System. It will not only make a step change impact on cost and quality for our customers, but it will also introduce a new and significant revenue stream for the company into the future.”

Aquirian buoyed by Collar Keeper System blasthole results in Western Australia

Aquirian Ltd says it has successfully completed the Stage II prototype trial of its Collar Keeper® System (patent pending), a technology designed to improve blasthole quality control across the mining sector.

The Stage II prototype unit was deployed on an existing drill rig operating in a hard-rock gold mining environment in the mid-west of Western Australia, according to Aquirian. The trial successfully tested fitment to existing drill rigs and delivered marked improvements to drilling rates and drill hole quality.

Drilling rates were improved by approximately two minutes per drill hole on a 5 m blast bench during testing, which equates to an improvement of more than 20% over conventional drill methods, the company claims. Further benefit in time savings as compared with a traditional collar piping process is expected to be realised during Stage III testing in December 2021, it added.

The prototype testing was conducted over numerous blast holes, testing system functionality and speed of deployment.

The Collar Keeper System is a combination of Aquirian-developed, retrofittable drilling apparatus combined with its existing Collar Keeper. The technology represents a step change in managing blasthole quality and is targeted to provide a unique solution to a range of different blasting environments with global applications, the company said.

The initial focus for the technology will be on mines operating in Western Australia with smaller-diameter holes in challenging ground conditions, where high-cost collar piping is traditionally used.

“The traditional method of collar piping has not changed in over 40 years and introduces significant hazards as well as cost, time and quality issues, and poor blast outcomes for clients,” the company said. “In addition, the poor blasting outcomes lead to further downstream costs in load and haul, and the processing of mined material.”

The current development focus is targeting around 200 operating drill rigs in Western Australia alone, pending the commercialisation of the technology intended for the 2022 financial year.

Aquirian Managing Director, David Kelly said: “We are excited by the successful trial of our Stage ll prototype last week. The system can be quickly and easily retrofitted to existing drill rigs and the improvements to drilling rates and blasthole quality exceeded our expectations. We will continue trialling the Collar Keeper System in alternate conditions with the aim of commercialisation over the current financial year.”

Epiroc introduces Automatic Bit Changer for hands-free bit changes on blasthole drills

Epiroc has introduced the Automatic Bit Changer (ABC) for hands-free bit changes on Pit Viper 270 and Pit Viper 290 series drill rigs.

The ABC option is designed to change rotary tricone bits faster than manual exchanges and eliminates human interaction with the drill string for a safer way to operate a drill fleet, the company says.

It makes it possible to complete drill bit changes with a single touch of a button, according to Epiroc. This can be done from either a remotely based control room or in the comfort of the cab.

“The ABC option optimises productivity and efficiency of the drilling operation and improves safety by eliminating exposure to live work environments,” Epiroc added.

The ABC carousel can store three rotary tricone bits in varying sizes and cutting structure, for a total of four on-board bits, for flexibility and versatility on a drill site. Unique bit adapters allow the system to safely replace the worn drill bits with new fresh drill bits without exposure to live work.

Epiroc says the ABC is capable of completing a bit change in significantly less time than a manual process for decreased downtime. Time saved by eliminating manual drill changes increases machine utilisation and profitability.

“The Automatic Bit Changer is the next step in autonomous drilling advancements,” Tim Ledbetter, Vice President – Automation R&D, said. “The process of continuously evaluating how to move the industry forward is key to this innovation. We will eliminate live work for our customers with safer, more productive technology, machines and operations.”

Customising a Pit Viper 270 or Pit Viper 290 drill rig with the ABC option offers many benefits for the operator, Epiroc claims. It reduces the possibility of human error, injuries related to heavy lifting, lost time on manual adjustments and accidents.

Eliminating these Live Work tasks is crucial in the mining industry, with several options for Live Work Elimination available for a range of Epiroc equipment.

At the conclusion of field trials, the ABC will be available for new drills and retrofit of drills already in the field, Epiroc says.