Tag Archives: drilling

Epiroc to provide IAMGOLD’s Côté mine with autonomous blasthole drills

Epiroc says it has won a large order for surface mining equipment from IAMGOLD Corp in Canada that will optimise safety and productivity through advanced automation at its greenfield Côté Gold operation in Ontario.

The order includes several Pit Viper 231 and SmartROC D65 drill rigs for the open-pit gold development, which is currently under construction and expected to start production in the second half of 2023. The Pit Vipers will be fully autonomous, while the SmartROC D65 rigs are prepared for remote operation.

The order is valued at approximately SEK130 million ($15.1 million) and was booked in the September quarter of 2021.

“IAMGOLD, a returning Epiroc customer, is taking safety, sustainability and productivity extremely seriously,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said. “As IAMGOLD is preparing a new exciting mine project, we are proud to contribute to their success with our advanced machines and solutions for autonomous operation.”

IAMGOLD has previously employed different levels of autonomous drilling at its other operations using Epiroc Pit Vipers. It launched the first automated drill rig in West Africa with assistance from Epiroc back in February 2020 at its 90%-owned Essakane mine in Burkina Faso. This followed a series of automation steps carried out on the company’s fleet of Epiroc PV235 blasthole drills, beginning with the ‘Operator Assist’ phase back in 2016.

The Pit Viper 231 and SmartROC D65 surface drill rigs are built to face the toughest conditions while optimising productivity, safety and fuel efficiency, according to Epiroc. Advanced features include Epiroc’s telematics system, Certiq, which allows for automated and intelligent monitoring of productivity and machine performance.

Swick Mining and DDH1 Ltd to combine surface and underground drilling offering

Swick Mining Services and DDH1 Ltd have agreed in-principle terms to combine their businesses to create, they say, a global scale mineral drilling business with a balance of surface and underground services.

The conditional, non-binding indicative proposal is part of a planned all-scrip transaction where Swick shareholders would receive 0.2970 DDH1 shares for each Swick share held.

The proposed transaction values Swick’s Drilling Business at an enterprise value of A$115 million ($84.1 million). After deducting Swick’s planned A$12 million Orexplore investment and the net debt within the Drilling Business, the remaining equity value of A$99.3 million equates to the offer value of approximately $0.35 per Swick share.

Swick and DDH1 offer complementary drilling services and expertise, with long established successful track records working with a wide range of exploration and mining companies, they say.

“There is merit in a merger of the two companies, both in terms of cost synergies and scale benefits,” they added. “The combination is expected to realise meaningful synergies over time, with both sets of shareholders able to benefit due to the all-scrip consideration.”

The combination of the two Western Australia-based businesses will have a balance of surface (circa-60%) and underground (circa-40%) drilling from a combined fleet of 170-plus rigs, which generated approximately A$445 million in revenue and A$103 million in EBITDA in the 2021 financial year to June 30, 2021.

The proposed transaction is conditional on, among other things, negotiation of a binding Scheme Implementation Agreement between the parties, which is expected to occur shortly. The transaction is then expected to complete following the completion of the Orexplore demerger – anticipated to occur after a shareholder vote expected in December.

Swick’s Chairman, Andrew Simpson, said: “A combination of two market leading Australian drilling business – Swick and DDH1 – makes strategic sense and combines high quality, experienced expertise in underground and surface drilling. For Swick shareholders, the proposed transaction will enable them to benefit from their ownership in the enlarged group, while also realising value of the Orexplore business in the form of a new ASX listing.”

Swick’s Managing Director, Kent Swick, added: “We have grown Swick to become the largest underground drilling contractor in Australia with a market leading position, defined by solid margins and established top-tier clients throughout the years both in Australia and internationally.

“There is a strong commercial logic in combining the DDH1 and Swick businesses and being able to offer our customers a complete range of high quality and innovative mineral drilling services from the discovery phase, through to mining and completion. I am very proud that the team at Swick have built a business that has been recognised and valued by another high-quality peer.

“While the transaction is conditional, and there are still additional steps to undertake, the board will continue to act in the best interests of Swick shareholders.”

Epiroc combines large diameter drilling with small platform on Pit Viper 291

Epiroc has introduced the Pit Viper 291 blasthole drilling rig at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

The large diameter, single-pass drill delivers productivity, application flexibility and enhanced operator safety with autonomous drilling options, according to the company.

Epiroc’s Pit Viper 291 is designed to tackle larger diameter drilling in soft- to medium-ground conditions. Capable of 279-311 mm diameter holes with 38 t bit load capacity, the new rig brings, Epiroc says, unsurpassed performance to any drilling operation and further extends the Epiroc Pit Viper range.

With Epiroc’s Rig Control System (RCS), the Pit Viper 291 can be configured with scalable automation features. Options like AutoDrill and AutoLevel or the optional BenchREMOTE package allow an off-drill operator to run one or multiple units. The Pit Viper 291 is also capable of fully autonomous drilling with almost no human interaction with the drill for improved mine safety and productivity.

The Pit Viper 291 takes the Pit Viper series to another level with maximised force and torque for greater drilling efficiency and decreased downtime, the company says. The drill rig offers 356 kN of pulldown capacity, 156 kN of pulldown force and 11,000 ft-lb of torque.

Adrian Speer, Product Line Manager, Blasthole drilling, says: “The Pit Viper 291 is the perfect combination of large diameter drilling on a small platform. With proven performance throughout different regions and conditions, plus advanced autonomous features, the Pit Viper 291 will further exceed any drilling production requirements.”

For ease of maintenance, the deck layout on the Pit Viper series offers convenient access to all major service components. Ground level, fast fuel fill connections are standard, and optional ground level live sampling is available. Spool valves are also centrally located above the deck for accessibility.

Along with the larger diameter capacity, the Pit Viper 291 offers more than 100 different options to configure the perfect drill rig for the specific application.

Sandvik enables fully autonomous drill fleet operation with AutoMine AutoCycle

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it is enabling fully autonomous fleet operation of multiple Leopard™ DI650i drill rigs from a remote control room with the launch of AutoMine® Surface Drilling AutoCycle.

The AutoCycle capabilities expand the iDrill automated drilling cycle with autonomous hole-to-hole tramming, path planning, obstacle detection and geofencing.

“With the growing demand for surface drilling automation, we have developed together with key customers our new AutoCycle capabilities to enable fully autonomous fleet operation through the drilling cycle,” David Hallett, Vice President of Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “These capabilities include hole-to-hole tramming without operator involvement for continuous autonomous drilling through the entire pattern. From a control room, an operator can oversee the autonomous operation of multiple surface drill rigs remotely, improving operational safety and increasing productivity and fleet utilisation.”

The Leopard DI650i iDrill automated drilling cycle covers all steps from boom positioning, drilling and pipe handling to finishing the hole, and ensures consistent high-quality drilled holes, according to Sandvik.

AutoMine Surface Drilling with geofencing functionality sets the drilling area where remote operation is allowed. The system prevents movement of the rig outside of the defined area. Autonomous hole-to-hole tramming enables automatic drill rig relocation according to the drill plan, with an operator assigning the hole sequence using a touchscreen interface.

The AutoMine obstacle detection system can automatically stop the rig and interlock tramming in case of detected obstacles in the stop-zone to avoid collision.

“The AutoMine Surface Drilling safety system is made according to international safety standards, providing functionality to operate the autonomous drilling system with peace of mind,” Sandvik said.

AutoMine Surface Drilling AutoCycle, together with iDrill intelligent sequences, increase efficiency and productivity through consistent and accurate performance as well as the operator’s safety and comfort.

AutoMine Surface Drilling offers scalable automation with three remote operation packages:

  • ‘Line-of-Sight’ package is optimised for quick setup when an operator remains close to the drilling area;
  • ‘Control Room’ package includes enhanced features for locating an operator away from the drilling area into a control room; and
  • ‘Autonomous’ package includes all capabilities to enable AutoCycle with a fully autonomous operation for a fleet of Leopard DI650i drill rigs.

Mitchell Services bolsters drilling fleet as it senses market opportunities

Mitchell Services, noting the strongest demand for drilling services since 2008, is raising funds to take advantage of opportunities in its native Australian market.

The company is undertaking a fully underwritten accelerated non-renounceable entitlement offer to raise around A$10.5 million ($7.7 million) to support funding of a sizeable organic growth opportunity, it said.

The ASX-listed company expects to generate revenue of A$200-$220 million and EBITDA of A$40-44 million in its 2022 financial year to June 30, 2022.

Mitchell has a material capital investment program underway, which includes the purchase of nine Boart Longyear LF™ 160 drill rigs with a staggered delivery through until December 31, 2021, and includes an option for an additional three rigs.

Boart’s LF 160 coring rigs come with a depth capacity of 1,800 m (NRQ™ V-Wall), according to Boart (photo supplied by Boart).

Based on the anticipated size of the fleet, post-implementation of the growth strategy, the business would have the capacity to generate A$50-$60 million EBITDA and to deliver material earnings per share growth, it said.

These rigs were pre-ordered and will be delivered during a period of significant and increasing lead times for rig supply, Mitchell added.

“Other barriers to entry for mining services providers are high and growing, including challenging access to funding with limited lender appetite in the sector, a tightening labour market and a highly complex regulatory environment,” Mitchell Services said. “The company is expecting business conditions to continue improving in the near term with productivity increases (utilised rigs working more shifts), price increases due to the evolving supply and demand landscape, and improvements in general contract terms (for example, larger mobilisation and demobilisation charges, take or pay contracts and pricing flexibility).”

Robit’s ‘built to last’ philosophy on show with newest products

Robit has launched two new products that, it says, have been designed to deal with the harshest mining conditions.

Its tubeless range of high-performance down-the-hole (DTH) hammers and the Robit Extreme Carbide are made for environments where wear and tear are a constant factor, the company says.

The new range of tubeless DTH WH TL hammers has been designed to eliminate the risk of foot valve breakages and the resulting operational downtime, according to Robit. Not only has the foot valve been removed to enhance reliability, but the design of the hammers has been further revamped to bring maximal usability in a minimal footprint, making them ideal for both blasthole and energy well drilling applications, Robit said.

The integrated choke system allows for airflow adjustments to suit the compressor and improve flushing, Robit says. The hammers’ inner liner allows optimal airflow and provides improved performance in wet conditions. The piston, itself, has been redesigned for improved strength and optimal performance. The hammers are suitable for ground conditions with high volumes of water or in soft unconsolidated ground, according to the company.

The Dual Property Extreme Carbide, meanwhile, is built to last.

Customer trials conducted in North America showed bit life improvements of over 50% when drilling in highly abrasive ground conditions, making it the ideal choice for blasthole and well drilling applications, Robit claims.

The Dual Property Extreme Carbide has a wear-resistant outer layer that uses the Robit Extreme grade #4 carbide. This is specifically formulated for highly abrasive ground conditions, staying sharper for longer while increasing productivity and reducing the number of necessary regrind processes. Furthermore, the Robit Extreme Carbide has been developed to reduce the overall CO2 impact of drilling and to improve the sustainability of Robit products, the company says.

Under the outer layer of wear-resistant Robit Extreme Carbide, the inner core is made of standard grade #1 carbide. This makes it strong and durable against fracturing, all the while guaranteeing the DTH bit performs at the same high level as Robit standard quality carbides are renowned for once the outer layer has eventually worn away. And for customers that do not re-grind drill bits, preferring to “drill-to-destruction” or “run-to-life”, the Robit Extreme carbide has shown to be even more advantageous, Robit says.

The recently-released Robit Rbit button bit series is also showcasing the company’s sustainability credentials. Made of 100% recyclable steel and finalised with eco-friendly water-based paint, the Rbit is designed to achieve the fastest rates of penetration and lowest cost-per-metre drilling in the company’s range.

All these products will be presented at the company’s MINExpo 2021 booth in Las Vegas, September 13-15.

Rosond tests new portable diamond drill rig to get around potholes in platinum mining

Drilling technology solutions provider Rosond is looking to address the problem of avoiding potholes in platinum reef mining, researching the potential development of a smaller, lightweight portable diamond drill rig that can be deployed conveniently on the reef horizon.

A comparative study between the traditional drill unit available for this application and the latest innovation by Rosond is currently underway to assess its performance efficiency and safety aspects for the mining industry, according to Rosond Director, Carlos Da Silva (pictured). The new drill rig’s business case is strengthened by the fact it should allow for informed decision making to eliminate costly, unnecessary prospecting with re-development and a reduction in the creation of abandoned ends.

In addition to using less compressed air to power the new drill units, drilling ahead of faces in high-risk gas pocket areas can confirm potential gas-associated structures, notes Da Silva.

“Our equipment is significantly lighter, portable and easily moved onto the reef horizon, meaning a reduced chance of injuries and less delays and dependency on mine personnel for transport,” he said. “This is critical, because a quicker set-up means more face drilling time.”

The new unit allows for smaller drill sites to be deployed, which reduces the costs associated with larger drill crews. In terms of efficiency performance, the benefits are more metres drilled per shift and more core transported daily to the surface due to the reduced weight.

Potholes are slump structures characterised by hanging wall rock units and reef horizons occurring at a lower elevation than normal. Roughly circular in shape and varying in size and depth, potholes tend to occur randomly, according to Rosond.

“It is suggested that potholes originated from density-unstable conditions combined with disequilibrium and vortex or strong eddying currents and the scouring action of pyroxene crystals eroding floor rocks,” Da Silva says.

Potholes can obliterate highly mineralised economic reef horizon, leading to a potential loss in mineral reserves. In addition, stope and development faces tend to go off-reef with potholes, thus, additional costly development is required to re-establish faces back on reef in order to resume mining operations.

Structured main grid on/off reef development is also negatively impacted, which could lead to sterilisation of the mineral resource.

Lastly, from a safety perspective, the intensity of joints and fractures increases around pothole edges. Natural potential parting planes in deep hanging wall rocks may be exposed, resulting in fall of ground incidents.

The beauty of the new Rosond drill units is that no additional training is required because the drilling practice remains the same, so it falls under the same standard operating procedure, the company says.

While the concept is still in the testing phase, this purpose-built technology is aimed squarely at the entire platinum mining industry, Da Silva concludes.

Iluka Cataby contract pushes Pentium Hydro drilling capacity over the line

Vysarn Limited subsidiary, Pentium Hydro, is to carry out drilling of dewatering wells at Iluka’s Cataby mine site in Western Australia following the award of a contract with Iluka Resources.

The Goods and Services contract is a variation to the original award of drilling services by Iluka back in January 2020.

The contract has an estimated value of A$1.74 million ($1.31 million) and, based on the current scope, is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Pentium plans to mobilise to site next month.

Vysarn Managing Director, James Clement, said: “Of note, this work now provides a contract pipeline exceeding the capacity of Pentium’s current fleet of 12 rigs in the first half of the 2022 financial year. Management intend to lease or enter into hire purchase arrangements to execute the work in hand with additional drill rigs.”

Epiroc to supply drill rigs, bolters, loaders and trucks to Mexico’s CoMinVi

Epiroc says it has won a large order for underground mining equipment from Mexican contractor CoMinVi for use at several mines throughout the country.

CoMinVi SA de CV, headquartered in Guanajuato, Mexico, has ordered a variety of Epiroc machines, including face drilling rigs, production drilling rigs, rock reinforcement rigs, loaders and mine trucks. The equipment will ensure the mines are operated with strengthened productivity, safety and cost efficiency, the OEM said.

The machines will be used at several mines in Mexico where CoMinVi serves as mining contractor. Aftermarket services such as on-site maintenance supervisor and spare parts consignment will be provided by Epiroc.

The total order value of the equipment exceeds $45 million, of which the majority was booked in the June quarter of 2021. The remaining part is expected to be booked in the second half of 2021.

“We are proud to partner with CoMinVi to enhance safety, productivity and sustainability in their operations,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “The equipment and services will support CoMinVi to successfully execute on their mining projects.”

Rafael Villagómez Contreras, CoMinVi’s CEO, said: “The acquisition of this new equipment is a historical part of CoMinVi’s growth in recent years and represents a competitive advantage for us. It will ensure our ability to respond immediately to our potential customers by having the necessary resources that allow us to be one step ahead of our competition. We are very satisfied with the commercial partnership with Epiroc as this is a long-term relationship that will be supported with a high-level technical backup and a reliable supply.”

The equipment includes Boomer face drilling rigs, Simba production drilling rigs, Boltec rock reinforcement rigs, Scooptram loaders and Minetruck haulers. The machines will be equipped with Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time, and some of the units will have Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, installed. This system makes them ready for automation and remote control.

The equipment is to be delivered in 2021 and 2022.

Drill rig utilisation nears capacity in key mining hubs, IMDEX survey reveals

A snapshot of mineral exploration drill rig use in major mining regions globally has revealed Australia, USA and parts of South America are nearing capacity, as the surge in exploration continues unabated, IMDEX reports.

In a market update ahead of a presentation to the Macquarie Emerging Leaders Conference, IMDEX said rig utilisation in Australia was “nearing capacity” at 79%, and 72% in North America.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer Paul House said the company was able to produce the snapshot because of its global presence in major mining regions, adding that global rig utilisation had only just returned to or exceeded pre-COVID 19 levels.

The March snapshot showed rig utilisation was at 37% in Europe, 38% in South America, 30% in Africa, and 55% in Canada.

Activity in Canada would be significantly higher in the northern summer drilling season, House explained, while certain parts of South America were at high capacity percentages.

In regions nearing capacity, delivery times for new rigs had increased and labour shortages were adding to the pressure, according to the survey.

“We believe the industry is willing to invest and spend but may not be able to move as fast as it would like,” House said. “The industry drivers of depleted reserves, strong commodity pricing and the trend towards decarbonisation, are driving substantially increased industry exploration budgets.

“However, delivery against these targets will require time and investment in labour, drilling rigs, and other supply chain pressures that are a current constraint.”

He added: “When S+P says exploration will grow by 15-20% in a year and we see that the areas that are most active are running at maximum rig utilisation, and we know the lead time for new rig orders has blown out to nine or 10 months, we believe that increase won’t happen in that timeframe.

“A lack of rigs places even more importance on using the best technology to drill more metres with the rigs that are available.”

House said the long-term outlook for mining technology was strong.

IMDEX was positioned to benefit from increasing demand for digital operations and real-time orebody knowledge, with a strong core business and strategy to outperform industry growth, he said.