Tag Archives: drill bits

Sandvik reinforces rock tools offering with Tricon Drilling Solutions acquisition

Sandvik has signed an agreement to acquire Tricon Drilling Solutions Pty Ltd, a privately-owned supplier of rock tools for the mining industry, based in Perth, Australia.

Tricon will operate as an independent, standalone business unit within the Rock Tools division of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

Tricon’s product offering includes rotary bits, DTH (Down-The-Hole) hammers and bits, as well as full rotary and DTH drill strings. The company has 24 employees.

“I am pleased that we continue to deliver on our active acquisition agenda, and I look forward to welcoming Tricon to Sandvik,” Henrik Ager, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said.

Tricon has design capabilities for rotary bits in-house but outsources manufacturing, with Sandvik being one of its rotary bit suppliers. Drill string products are produced in Tricon’s own facility.

The acquisition is expected to close in the September quarter of 2021, subject to relevant regulatory approvals.

Anglo American pursues 3D printing of spare parts with CSIR and Ivaldi Group

Anglo American has partnered with the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company, Ivaldi Group, to explore opportunities to digitally distribute spare parts for mining and processing equipment to be manufactured locally using 3D printing.

The project includes an analysis of Anglo American’s inventory of spare parts, such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and mining rock drill bits, exploring the impact of adopting a digitally distributed supply chain, and then digitising, locally producing and testing these parts at Anglo American’s operations in South Africa, Anglo said.

This partnership is the latest manifestation of Anglo American’s Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) approach to helping create “thriving communities”, as part of the company’s Sustainable Mining Plan commitments.

“Through strategic partnerships, CRD aims to create long-term economic prosperity within Anglo American’s host communities and regions beyond the expected life of a mine,” the company said. “To that end, Anglo American launched the Impact Catalyst in 2019 together with its partners the CSIR, Exxaro, Zutari, World Vision SA and the provincial government of Limpopo.”

Matthew Chadwick, Head of Socio-Economic Development and Partnerships at Anglo American, said: “Our FutureSmart Mining™ approach to sustainable mining is presenting us with new and innovative opportunities to build thriving and resilient communities, now and into the future. Through partnerships like this one with CSIR and Ivaldi, we are re-imagining long-established norms to help deliver enduring value to society.

“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs. Importantly, this has the clear potential to create industrial and service jobs for host communities and surrounding regions through on-demand manufacturing systems to produce spare parts locally.”

Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi, said: “We believe that digital distribution of physical goods is a natural next step for the global spare parts supply chain. It is part of the fourth industrial revolution. Working with world-leading organisations like Anglo American and the CSIR, we are now practically demonstrating that there are significant savings for businesses and a net positive impact for the environment and associated communities.”

Charl Harding, CSIR’s Business Development Manager, added: “When we first explored this opportunity to develop sustainable local on-demand manufacturing solutions we saw an immediate fit with our additive manufacturing and materials expertise. The 3D printing of parts along with the application of additive manufacturing technologies to refurbish worn parts offers the potential to create local jobs, promote innovation for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry and society whilst responding critical issue of climate change.”

Robit incorporates sustainability and productivity into new drill bit design

Robit says it has taken up the challenge of making its drill bits even better, introducing a new button bit series manufactured with recycled steel.

The new Robit Superior Rbit™ Button Bit Series achieve faster rates of penetration and the lowest cost-per-metre, according to the company.

In line with Robit’s sustainable manufacturing process, the Rbit is manufactured on fully automated production lines and finished with “eco-friendly” water-based paint, the company says.

The Rbit features:

  • An optimised button layout configuration on the Flat Face model to ensure maximum rock contact and energy transmission;
  • A new transition face developed in both the Flat Face and Drop Center models to improve the transfer of percussive energy into the rock;
  • Enhanced flushing design now available in the Flat Face and Drop Center models, delivering an even faster rate of penetration.
  • Redesigned wider retrac grooves to allow more space, delivering a better flow for the cuttings; and
  • Heavy duty models available in both the Flat Face and Drop Center models.
The Flat Face (left) and Drop Center (right) versions

“All of our new high quality Rbit drill bits have been designed with state-of-the-art computer fluid dynamics simulation,” the company says. “Moreover, field tests globally have demonstrated clear evidence of a superior drilling performance which our technical simulation had already guaranteed.”

Robit says its partner drillers were happy with the performance and noted better flushing and longer grinding intervals with the new Rbit drill bits.

“Robit products are developed in the challenging rock conditions of Scandinavia and have a proven record globally,” the company says. “With Robit’s new Rbit, we have found yet another way to deliver excellence to our customers worldwide.”

Epiroc gives Epsilon tricone drill bits new lease of life

Epiroc says the new Epsilon² premium tricone drill bit will help surface mining and construction professionals enjoy up to 100% longer distance drilled before bit discard.

Thanks to smart patented features, Epsilon² improves drilling productivity through extended bit life and a faster rate of penetration (ROP), according to Epiroc.

The new air bearing bit has been tested in the field by selected customers in operating conditions in North America, South America and Asia. The tests show an average of more than 60% longer distance drilled before bit discard compared with the previous Epsilon generation – peaking at over 100% in some cases, according to Epiroc.

Bahadir Ergener, Product Line Manager, Rotary, at Epiroc, said: “The name Epsilon ‘to-the-power-of-two’ is no coincidence. It’s more than an upgrade, it’s a new generation.

“Degrading of the bearings was long a common cause of bit failure, forcing customers to accept a slower ROP and a shorter service life than necessary. Either the bearings would corrode due to moisture from water injection for dust suppression, or overheat by friction.”

Two patented Epiroc features combine to solve the problem: Tornado, which channels cooling air over the hotter load side of the bearing, and Torrent, which removes moisture from the cooling air and therefore reduces corrosion, Epiroc says.

Allan Rainey, Global R&D Manager at Epiroc, said Epsilon² outperforms other air bearing bits on reliability, and even challenges more costly sealed bearing bits.

“Users of sealed bits can now turn to Epsilon² for comparable productivity at a lower cost,” he said.

“Longer bit life means improved personal safety through reduced operator interaction with the drill bit. With twice the distance drilled, there is no need to replace the bit every day, perhaps only once a week,” he added.

Another aspect of extended bit life is there will be fewer bits manufactured in total over the lifetime, which in turn reduces raw material use, transportation and ecological footprint.

“We believe customers will value a lower climate impact when selecting their next rotary drill bit,” Rainey concluded.

Epiroc brings Powerbit tophammers to underground mining sector

Epiroc says it is unleashing a new power in the underground drilling industry with the launch of its Powerbit Underground tophammers.

These drill bits have been designed to match the capacity of the latest technology in drill rigs and offer a higher penetration rate, longer service life and more drill meters per day, according to the company. “It will boost the productivity of both new and older rigs – allowing customers to capitalise more on their rig investment,” Epiroc said.

Back in 2016, Atlas Copco Secoroc (now part of Epiroc) launched its Powerbit tophammer drill bits for surface drilling, which were built to take on any rock, from hard to soft, and from abrasive to non-abrasive.

Epiroc says the Powerbit Underground has by far outperformed all standard bits during substantial testing carried out around the world, resulting in remarkable productivity improvement.

Johan Thenór, Product Line Manager for Tophammer Products at Epiroc, said: “The new bit averaged 37% more drill meters before being discarded, peaking at a whopping 82% in one test round! No doubt, we’re setting a new productivity standard for underground mining.”

The tests show a higher penetration rate and longer intervals between regrinds, so miners will benefit from more trouble-free, uninterrupted drilling, according to the company.

Thenór added: “At the end of the day, it’s about getting maximum capacity from your drill rig, and we are sure customers will be happy to see what Powerbit Underground can deliver.”

Powerbit Underground is a firm response to market demand for a bit that matches the high drilling speeds enabled by ever-stronger rigs and rock drills. With that said, it will prove just as game-changing for customers using older rigs with lower water pressure, if not more, according to the company.

Epiroc said: “Every miner can look forward to a bit with a higher penetration rate and longer service life. This will improve their productivity and reduce their cost per meter drilled.”

The leading productivity is partly explained by the bit’s optimised flushing capacity, according to Robert Arnoldsson, Senior Product Specialist, Tophammer Products at Epiroc. “The hole configuration maximises flushing efficiency, which is key to the high penetration rate,” he said.

More innovative features combine to give the bit the leading position in underground drilling today, Arnoldsson added.

“We used our hardest steel ever and we configured the bit’s face in such a way that it removes cuttings faster than ever before. Therefore, drillers can make the most out of their rigs and achieve a whole new penetration capability,” he said.

Customers will also be making their acquaintance with Trubbnos, Epiroc’s new and innovative trapezoid-shaped buttons, which increase penetration rate and service life compared with conventional, semi-ballistic buttons, the company said.

Thenór concluded: “Since the bit’s performance is crucial to the rig’s ability to penetrate rock fast, customers can look forward to a new product that will greatly improve drilling efficiency.”

Sandvik breaks new ground with introduction of industry’s fastest drill bit

Sandvik thinks it has introduced the fastest drill bit in the industry with its new Speedy bit.

In addition to 10% higher drilling speed compared with standard bits with ballistic buttons, the Speedy bit also delivers great collaring accuracy and hole quality, according to the company.

Sandvik said the increased speed enables Speedy bit users to save one hour per day for each drill rig.

Robert Grandin, Product Manager for Underground Top Hammer at Sandvik Rock Tools, said: “Sandvik is continuing to break ground in the drilling business with the introduction of Speedy bit. With increased drilling speed, customers can expect significant cost savings. This can translate into more than $100,000/y.”

He added: “Since drilling faster also reduces machine-related costs per metre advanced, such as for operators and maintenance, the Speedy bit is an excellent example of our aim to always maximise the output of our customers’ investments.”

The Speedy bit, which features one of Sandvik’s new PowerCarbide grades, outperforms the standard bits in the industry with aggressive buttons that penetrate deeper with each strike and increased cutting size, according to Sandvik.

The patented elevated front breaks the rock in two levels and improves the flushing flow, while large sludge grooves enable quick removal of large cuttings.

Sandvik Speedy bits are available in three dimensions: 45 mm, 48 mm and 51 mm.

Grandin said the Speedy bit has proven its performance in the field during more than 20 trials in mine development and tunnelling. “On average, drill speed increased by 9% compared to bits with ballistic buttons, including several regrinds,” he said.

Sandvik offers a full drill string from shank adapter to bit, designed for reliability, performance and longevity. The Speedy bit, which is available to order, is developed to boost productivity in the whole drilling process.

The introduction of the Speedy bit comes a day after Sandvik released its new drilling tool system, the Alpha 360.

Boart Longyear on quantifying drilling efficiencies and why metrics matter

The mining sector continues to look for ways to improve efficiencies and lower costs and drilling companies are following suit.

The best drilling contractors know it’s all about providing maximum value to the customer. Drilling the metres is only one part of the equation and other metrics provide guidance to total value.

To quantify drilling efficiencies, something must be measured. Which metrics mean the most and provide the best information on finding ways to improve performance and increase a mining company’s return on investment?

This article by Boart Longyear’s Robert Buro* focuses on the key metrics in exploration diamond core drilling: safety performance, schedule, price, and quality core recovery.

Safety performance

Safety is first and foremost. It’s a moral responsibility to provide the safest working conditions and a safety culture where each and every employee knows they have the right and the responsibility to stop any unsafe work. Boart Longyear’s investment in robust environmental, health, and safety (EHS) programmes pay off with consistently improving incident rates (having fewer reportable incidents) and lowered severity ratings of the incidents that occur.

An incident can be categorised as recordable or lost-time, but the severity rating is a key factor that insurance companies consider. This is their first indication of the actions and culture a contractor brings to the site. An ancillary benefit of improving incident rates is a lower insurance rate and these tangible cost savings from drilling safely are passed on to the client.

For customers, a contractor’s safety performance also affects the mine’s safety performance record. If there’s a haul truck incident, it doesn’t affect the drilling contractor, but if the drilling contractor has a recordable or lost time incident, it affects both the safety performance of the drilling contractor and the customer (mine site) because it happened on the mine’s property.

Safety programmes ensure that wherever a Boart Longyear driller or driller assistant goes to work, the client can expect the same safe results. That consistency and value in safety is a big reason clients choose Boart Longyear™ Drilling Services. The safety commitment, culture, and programmes at Boart Longyear align with their own, and client-specific programmes are easily embedded as Boart Longyear employees are well-versed in adopting and working within the highest safety standards.

Price

When evaluating a contract’s value, it’s tempting to assume the hourly prices from the drilling contractor represent the total cost. This negates the value proposition of a well prepared, resourced, and time-sensitive contractor. There are additional costs to consider such as support staff including safety personnel, geology staff, and drilling programme managers, as well as costs for drill pad construction, water hauling, supervision, drilling mud, surveying, and equipment rentals.

While these costs aren’t in direct control of the drilling contractor, inefficient safety and operating practices can impact these additional costs and can easily overrun any initially perceived savings.

Schedule

A key metric affecting cost is the number of feet or metres drilled per shift. An estimate of feet/metres per shift is used to calculate the schedule based on the number of shifts required to complete the drilling programme. The customer uses this calculation to schedule onsite support personnel, support equipment (dozers/helicopters etc.) and any other services for the programme (camp/fuel etc).

When the drilling contractor drills more efficiently, thus completing the drilling programme in a shorter amount of time, the customer can leverage savings on their support costs. If the drilling takes longer and the schedule isn’t met, costs go up as a result of the drilling contractor being onsite longer to accomplish the required feet/meters. That’s the key metric – the footage based contract stays the same, but costs go up if the drilling contractor takes longer to achieve the feet/metres needed. The drilling contractor still gets paid roughly the same amount, but the customer’s costs go up.

A recent example of this had a Boart Longyear crew jump into an unfinished project after the initial, lower-priced contractor struggled to complete what should have been a six-week project. At week eight and only third of the way complete, Boart Longyear was called in and completed the remaining drilling for the project in only four weeks.

Boart Longyear Drilling Services is currently measuring all the different increments that make up a 12-hour shift to find efficiencies in each of those individual steps – bit on bottom, charging the rods, wireline time, shift changes, transportation, mud programmes, etc. By measuring each step in the drilling programme, additional efficiencies can be identified and savings shared with the customer.

For example, wireline activity takes up a significant amount of time during each shift. It’s necessary to retrieve the core, but how can we do it faster – how can we pull the tube faster without damaging the hole or slipping core? Can we figure out a way to make the tube head drop faster without knocking the crown off the bit when the tube lands?

This is part of Boart Longyear’s commitment to Operational Excellence, a programme in place using the Hard Work Cycle – achieving drilling efficiencies through continually looking for ways to improve processes and think outside the box.

Downtime can be a big schedule issue and directly affects the fixed costs of having support equipment and personnel onsite during the drilling programme. Minimising downtime is a key goal. From the contractor’s perspective, the loss of billable time directly impacts the bottom line.

The lack of production also adds unbudgeted costs to the client’s programme, a clear lose-lose situation. Having a solid preventable maintenance programme and an adequate inventory of critical spare parts is a positive hedge against what can occur.

Boart Longyear Drilling Services has protocols and processes for what’s called a ‘rig-down’ status. It is all-hands on deck to get the issue resolved. Whether it’s a hydraulic failure, an engine has gone down, or some other breakdown like a staffing issue, there’s a sense of urgency to ensure the customer is served in the best possible way.

Whether it’s mechanical or otherwise, the protocol is to get the issue resolved within 24 hours. If that means someone or something needs to get on a plane, that’s what happens to keep downtime to a minimum. A good preventive maintenance programme helps, but it’s what you do in the face of a breakdown that matters.

Quality core recovery

Core recovery is the end product. It’s ultimately what the customer is paying for, so this metric is key to measure the drilling programme’s success. If there’s not quality core in the box, there’s no value to the customer. In the end, the data from that core is the value to the mine. If core recovery is insufficient, so is the value provided.

Drilling and retrieving quality core depends on the expertise of the driller and the condition of the tooling and equipment. First, the driller’s knowledge and understanding of the ground conditions is imperative. This information guides the driller’s decisions in selecting the correct equipment, tooling, bits, etc. to smoothly drill, penetrate quickly, and recover the core intact.

In addition, Boart Longyear operates a robust drilling fluids management plan. The mud programme incorporates the driller’s knowledge of the ground condition and the challenges it presents. Understanding the ground condition and the equipment, the driller tunes into his drill using his instrumentation and the feedback the rig provides to analyse what is happening downhole. For complicated and technically challenging ground conditions, where core recovery is not going as planned, Boart Longyear drillers leverage the experience of the drilling fluids company. Reputable drilling fluids providers can send out an engineer to check the drilling fluids systematically.

The old saying that two heads are better than one is key to solving core recovery issues. The two teams work together to figure out what changes to the fluids and drilling equipment are necessary to get the quality core recovery and penetration desired.

The driller also has to know his equipment, watching the gauges and listening to the rig, recognising when it’s doing the job and when it isn’t. When encountering a core block – when the core just doesn’t want to penetrate up into the barrel – the driller can continue drilling, but all he’s doing is grinding up the core.

Instead of drilling five feet and getting four inches of core recovery he can stop and look for answers. This is a big step for drillers who are paid according to productivity. Drillers are programmed (you could even say they’re wired) to get the most productivity. It takes a smart and knowledgeable driller to stop going after the feet/metres and deliver maximum value by stopping to focus on core recovery. In difficult ground, it’s best to pause and evaluate the core barrel assembly, drilling technique, and the drilling fluids programme. That practical approach ensures value to the customer.

The role of innovation and new technology

Through the years, new innovative technologies have helped improve drilling efficiency. For example, the Genuine Q™ Wireline core retrieval system introduced by Boart Longyear back in 1953 revolutionised the diamond drilling industry. The system increased productivity on the work site and made tripping core from the bottom of the hole safer for the drilling assistant. The advantages of the genuine Q™ system quickly generated industry-wide adoption of Boart Longyear’s wireline technology.

Boart Longyear consumables have been equally innovative. The recently launched XQ™ wireline coring rod threads are stronger, last longer, and provide easier make and break for improved productivity and bottom line savings.

The high productivity coring system features a W-Wall™ coring rod which is 30% lighter – increasing depth capacity and reducing driller fatigue when manually tripping rods. The new NXQ™ and HXQ™ W-Wall coring rods feature patent-pending, double-upset tubing, with faster wireline tripping speed. The Quick Descent™ head assembly and the industry-leading Longyear™ colour series diamond coring bits are also examples of recent innovations that improve productivity. Each system component increases shift capacity and productivity, delivering increased efficiencies.

Industry-leading top drive coring rigs and hands-free rod handling equipment offers both productivity and safety. Answering the demand for innovative rod handling, the FREEDOM™ Loader and top drive coring rig combinations provide simple and fast rod tripping that is 100% hands-free.

Additionally, Boart Longyear has invested in an Operational Excellence team and platform for continuous improvement to develop the next generation of efficiency and productivity enhancements in the mineral exploration industry. A key component of the Operational Excellence mind set is the Hard Work Cycle and reporting. The Hard Work Cycle reporting includes meeting with clients to go over feet/metres per shift, any downtime hours and the cause. Reviewing the metrics with our clients and showing areas where we can improve productivity on our side and theirs provides a unique and compelling transparency.

For example, measuring all of the aspects of a drill site might give visibility to the number of hours of lost drilling/productivity resulting from site access issues. Blasting, ventilation issues, and cage delays are examples of issues affecting productivity that are controlled by the client, but working together minimizes their impact and increases drilling efficiency.

Why drilling metrics matter

The beauty of measuring drilling metrics is that you have data to discuss what’s happening on the drill site and look for ways to improve efficiencies and lower costs. Boart Longyear knows that it’s all about providing the maximum value to the customer.

The biggest metric that might impact whether you win additional contracts is, “Are they happy with the outcomes of the drilling programme?” Was the project completed safely, on schedule, providing quality core that provided the information necessary to make decisions about future exploration or mine development? Were any issues resolved to their satisfaction and transparent reporting provided?

Drilling metrics matter because key performance indicators measure how well a customer was served. Measuring what was delivered quantifies the customer’s satisfaction and provides goals for future projects.

*Robert Buto manages the global commercial strategy for Boart Longyear’s Drilling Services business

Cat sizes up miners’ drilling needs with expanded line of Tricone bits

Caterpillar has expanded its line of Tricone drill bits, offering a wider range of diameters with the high wear resistance, improved rock fragmentation and superior rates of penetration customers expect.

Cat® Tricone drill bits are designed for the most severe rotary blasthole applications, yet are cost effective for a wide range of drilling needs, according to Caterpillar.

The new bit line includes six diameters ranging from 171 mm (6.75 in) to 311 mm (12.25 in.). Their carbide shapes and cutting face arrangements are optimised for high wear resistance and improved rock fragmentation, and the aggressive, long-lasting cutting structure delivers a superior rate of penetration, according to Caterpillar. 

Caterpillar says its heat treatment technology and advanced air-cooled bearing design yields longer bit life and results in lower overall drilling costs.

“Cat bits also use innovative technology to prevent cuttings and unbroken rock ridges from inflicting severe wear on the cone. The result is improved working life,” the company said. Additionally, the gauge row design improves resistance to diameter shrinkage, according to the company.

Cat says its Tricone drill bits have demonstrated significantly lower total cost of drilling in head-to-head tests conducted in copper, iron ore and coal mines.