Tag Archives: diamond drilling

Ausdrill gets hands on with hands-off-steel diamond drilling tech

With Ausdrill having recently added a Boart Longyear LF160 drill rig and FL262 FREEDOM™ LOADER combination to its diamond drilling fleet in Australia, IM caught up with Eric Gobbert, Senior Operations Manager, Exploration, to find out more about the company’s ‘hands-off-steel’ initiatives.

The newest coring rig – capable of pulling a 4.5 m sample – comes with a tilting top drive head to simplify rod handling, a foot clamp and braking device, and visible wireline. This is the second LF160 in Ausdrill’s portfolio, and a third rig is on the way. Meanwhile, the company is actively exploring a similar system capable of offering 6 m samples.

One rig is currently active at a Queensland coal operation, with the second at a nickel operation in the Goldfields of Western Australia. The third is expected to go to the Pilbara iron ore sector.

It is the combination of the LF160 with the FL262 FREEDOM LOADER that is bringing safety benefits to Ausdrill and its customers.

With totally hands-free rod handling, the combined rig and loader require no intervention from the driller’s assistant to trip in and align the rods or connect to the top drive head – thus offering greater freedom to drill by reducing the risk of hand and back injuries while handling rods. This freedom of movement comes as a result of the FREEDOM LOADER’s remote-control panel, which allows drillers to move to – and work from – a safer location away from the risks of moving rods.

“It’s a good innovation and has enabled us to provide a much-needed solution,” Gobbert said.

Ausdrill, a Perenti company, was encouraged to adopt this new diamond drilling technology as part of its own commitment to developing the mines of the future in partnership with clients. “Most companies have technology roadmaps with a strong safety vision. These roadmaps outline the future expectations for increased safety of exploration drill rigs,” Gobbert told IM.

Exploration drilling is an obvious place for Tier 1 miners to look to for safety improvements. A manual and repetitive job, traditional diamond drilling comes with many injuries as a result of drillers and offsiders removing and inserting heavy drill rods into the rigs. While automating part of the exploration drilling process may not provide the same financial payback as automating haul trucks or blasthole rigs, it does significantly reduce risk to personnel.

Gobbert agrees: “If you look at the drill inserts and the ongoing safety risks associated with being a driller’s offsider, or drilling in general, reducing the whole hands-on steel process and going down the automated or autonomous path makes sense.”

It is improving safety that is the real aim of leveraging such technology, according to Gobbert.

“De-risking the manual handling component is the real winning aspect of this,” he said. “We all want to achieve our business aims, but more importantly ensure our staff and our client’s staff are safe in the process.”

And, by reducing these risks, companies are ensuring continuity of operations, with personnel less likely to obtain the injuries that so often come with diamond drilling.

“Safety has always been at the centre of our technological drive – we understand that a safe project is a successful project,” Gobbert said.

This is not Ausdrill’s first foray into hands-off-steel diamond drilling. Drill Rigs Australia, an Ausdrill subsidiary up until July, previously engineered a similar style rod presenting system on one of its rigs at a Tier 1 client’s operation. Gobbert says the rig is still successfully operating – a full five years on.

“Ausdrill has a 30+ year history of designing and customising fleet to suit the needs of our clients and the swiftly-evolving market,” Gobbert says. “Today, we work in partnership with our clients, OEMs and third-party tech service providers to bring a bespoke combination of fleet and equipment, geared specifically to the needs of each project. Our project success and notable safety records showcase just how well we are delivering on our intentions, and tracking along our roadmap.”

IMDEX signs agreement with Tier 1 miner to fast-track development of MAGHAMMER

IMDEX has signed a joint development agreement with a Tier One mining company to fast-track development of the IMDEX MAGHAMMER™ for commercial use, according to Chief Executive Paul House (pictured).

The MAGHAMMER uses a hybrid drilling technique combining rotary diamond drilling with fluid driven percussive drilling to achieve higher penetration rates compared with conventional coring. The technology enables an entire drill hole to be completed with a coring rig where RC and diamond drilling is required, according to the company.

IMDEX only exercised its option to acquire Flexidrill and its patent-protected drilling productivity technologies, COREVIBE and MAGHAMMER, in December, but it had carried out test work on the MAGHAMMER technology far in advance of the transaction.

Speaking at the company’s AGM this week, House reported a new rental fleet record and month-on-month increases in revenue since May as IMDEX recovered from a COVID-19-related downturn earlier in the year.

With the strength of the gold price and other key commodities, and exploration activity surging, IMDEX’s tool rental fleet is 19% up on the same time last year and exceeds the previous record set in 2012, the company said.

House told the AGM that the recommencement of activity globally since May had continued in most regions, albeit at different speeds.

“We achieved revenue of A$61.4 million ($43.5 million) in Q1 2021 (September quarter of 2020), which was up 26% on Q4 2020 (June quarter of 2020),” House said. “This result is only slightly behind the previous corresponding year at A$67.6 million, or 4.9% on a constant currency basis.”

House said the company is seeing multi-commodity demand, with clients “well-funded” and focused on resuming sustained activity as soon as possible.

The pressures of COVID-19, which forced various governments to impose border and travel restrictions, created strong demand for IMDEX technologies linked to its cloud-based IMDEX HUBIQ™, the company said.

“We have made great progress both because of and in spite of COVID-19,” House said. “The global pandemic has increased demand for our connected technologies that support remote operations. Conversely, it has hindered client trials due to limited access to site for non-essential personnel.

“On balance, the momentum for disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and the industrial internet of things is gaining cadence.

“The outlook for mining tech is brighter than it has ever been.”

On top of the MAGHAMMER reveal, House said client trials of the award-winning IMDEX BLAST DOG™ had resumed.

IMDEX BLAST DOG is a semi-autonomously deployed system for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine and is commodity agnostic.

Just last month, the technology, being developed in collaboration with Universal Field Robots and tested at Anglo American’s Dawson coal mine in Queensland, won the Greyhound Innovation (METS) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards.

Titeline brings automated diamond drilling tech to Newmont’s Tanami gold mine

Newmont has confirmed it is working with Titeline Drilling on the deployment of autonomous underground diamond drilling technology at its Tanami gold mine, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

In the miner’s March quarter results investor call, Chief Operating Officer, Rob Atkinson, highlighted the use of “industry-leading robotic technology for diamond rig drilling” at the mine, saying it had the capacity to remove employees from the line of fire when drilling and removing the fatality risk associated with equipment entanglement.

Titeline, having previously automated the drill rod handling function on surface drill rigs, has recently been looking to replicate this achievement underground. Working with Chile-based Exploration Drill Masters (EDM), who with Titeline helped develop the patent-pending EDM rod-feeder system for handling drill pipe on Titeline’s autonomous surface drills, the company has now come up with a system able to complete a drilling rod pull autonomously in the underground environment and, of course, drill autonomously.

Titeline, which has an existing grade control and resource definition contract at Tanami, supplied the two autonomous drill rigs now running at the underground mine, with Atkinson saying on the call that more robotic rigs were on the way.

“During 2020, we will integrate five robotic rigs to the fleet, and we’ll replicate this impressive technology at other Newmont underground sites globally,” he said.

Tanami is currently undergoing a stage two expansion including the construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at a depth of 2,140 m below surface.

Osisko completes Major milestone at Windfall gold project

Osisko Mining and Major Drilling have completed the longest diamond drill hole in Canada at the Windfall gold project in Quebec.

The Discovery 1 hole was a planned 3,000-3,500 m deep drill hole, designed to target two down plunge extensions of known gold zones and investigate the projected source area of the Windfall deposit at depth, Osisko said, adding that the working model for Windfall interprets an outer shell and centre of a possible porphyry intrusion feeding the Windfall-Lynx gold system.

The final length of Discovery 1 was 3,467 m, becoming the longest diamond drill hole in Canada, and achieving a vertical depth of 2,700 m from surface, the company said.

The hole was drilled from surface to 3,149 m with NQ rods and finished with BQ rods. Analytical results from the final 200 metres are at the laboratory, results are pending. The high value results from the hole are similar to those intersected in the Windfall and Lynx deposits, hosted in volcanics and felsic intrusions, with Discovery 1 ending in biotite and chlorite altered mafic volcanics with felsic porphyritic intrusions.

Osisko President and Chief Executive Officer, John Burzynski, said: “We are very proud of our Osisko team and Major Drilling for their tremendous work completing this hole. Successes include the discovery of the Underdog and Triple 8 extensions, the wide intercepts of anomalous gold values similar to those observed in the Lynx system, and now these new high value gold intercepts at depth. These results of the Discovery 1 hole show that the Windfall system is extensive with substantial room for potential growth.”

Robit diamond button bits to go stronger for longer in top hammer drilling

Robit is launching diamond button bits for top hammer drilling applications as it looks to increase the life and reduce the maintenance associated with these consumables.

The company plans to commence mass production and deliveries by the end of the year, but it has already signed up its first mining customer.

Traditionally, drill bits for top hammer drilling have been made of hard metal, but, while they may often prove effective when it comes to penetration in the initial stages, these bits can be worn down easily depending on the application.

The Robit Diamond Button Series bits have an industrial diamond coating that lasts many times longer than a regular bit and does not need to be sharpened, according to Robit’s R&D Engineer and Materials Specialist, Niko Ojala.

The diamond coating is applied to the buttons in much the same way as diamonds are created; namely by subjecting it to high pressure and heat, which makes it even more durable than natural diamonds.

Ojala said: “The coating has several layers, which ensures adherence and enables the diamond bit to withstand the shocks and heat fluctuations of top hammer drilling. Robit Group has previously used the diamond coating with success in oil and gas operations in softer substrates. Now the durability of diamond is offered for the first time for shock drilling in hard rock.”

Robit has been developing these buttons for five years, and field tests have been conducted extensively “with ever-improving results and great success”, Robit Sales Manager, Kimmo Kangas, said.

“Mass production and deliveries will begin during the latter part of the year; initially 89 mm and 102 mm diamond bits will be offered,” Kangas said, adding that Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä gold mine, in Finland, is to start using the Robit Diamond Button series later this year.

Agnico Eagle Kittilä Production Manager, Jari Kolehmainen and General Supervisor, Janne Saukko, remarked: “Test cooperation with Robit in these new innovative products has been productive. The goal is to use diamond bits to make remote drilling more efficient in terms of use of resources and productivity than drilling using regular bits.”

In test cases, the new diamond bits have yielded outstanding results, according to Ojala: “When drilling hard granite you may have to sharpen – ie change – a traditional hard metal button bit, for example, after 80 m, while with the diamond button bit you can drill nearly one kilometre.

“And, as the diamond buttons do not, in practice, wear out, then their penetrating ability does not deteriorate like regular hard metal buttons. Drilling speed, therefore, remains the same throughout the bit’s time of use. Similarly, the diameter of the borehole does not decrease as the bit ages, resulting in a more consistent and predictable end result in production drilling.”

He concluded: “The many times longer change interval of the bit saves time and is particularly important for remote-controlled drill rigs in fully automated mining environments where people are not present during the process.”