IGO and Barminco have put Sandvik’s DL422iE longhole drill to work at the Nova operation in Western Australia, becoming the first mine in Australia to roll out the fully-automated, battery-electric rig.
The nickel-copper-cobalt mine, in the Fraser Range, is owned by IGO and operated by Barminco. Both companies have been trailblazers in terms of trialling electrified mining technologies and, like Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, they are a part of the Electric Mine Consortium.
Barminco purchased the Sandvik DL422iE, which was commissioned and put to work in July.
Darren Kwok, Head of Mining Electrification and Technology at Barminco, said: “Accelerating decarbonisation is one of our sustainability priorities and there are clear benefits to using battery-electric vehicles in the underground environment. Reducing or eliminating diesel emissions improves working conditions for our people and also has the potential to improve efficiency and profitability. We’re very excited to see the benefits that this new Sandvik rig can provide.”
Chris Carr, Head of Technical Services and Acting General Manager Nova at IGO, added: “At IGO, we believe in a clean energy future, and that extends to our underground mining operations where the electrification of our fleets will create a safer, greener and more productive operation. The arrival of the new Sandvik drill is an important step towards our commitment to be net zero across our direct operations and projects by 2035, if not sooner.”
The Sandvik DL422iE is a fully-automated, battery-powered top hammer longhole drill designed for underground mass mining in 4 x 4 m or larger production drifts, Sandvik says. It can drill vertical and inclined fans and single or parallel Ø89-127 mm longholes up to 54 m in depth using ST58 and ST68 tube rods.
The drill’s electric driveline includes a battery package and electric motor to allow for zero emissions while tramming and also reduced thermal load. The DL422iE also features Sandvik’s patented Charging While Drilling technology; an innovation for reduced battery charging time without the need for additional infrastructure.
Nathan Cunningham, Business Line Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “We’re seeing considerable customer interest in Sandvik battery-electric vehicle solutions that help remove diesel from underground mines. If a miner is able to achieve a fully-electric underground operation there can a be a flow-on effect for the ventilation capacity calculations. For new mines, in particular, this can reduce bring a double benefit – better worker health and a reduction in the work required to meet ventilation requirements.”
The DL422iE is part of the Sandvik 400iE series of drill rigs that, together, provide a battery-electric solution to just about every underground challenge.
“Other members of the family include the Sandvik DD422iE mining and tunnelling jumbo and the Sandvik DS412iE rock bolter,” Cunningham says. “The DD422iE was launched in 2016 and has since logged more than 4 million metres of drilled holes and over 18,000 kilometres of tramming with zero emissions. Meanwhile, the DS412iE rock bolter was launched in 2021 and is rapidly transforming mines across the world.”
Kwok added: “Electrification/decarbonisation is a key priority for Barminco and one of the most important trends in the sector at the moment, alongside automation. For this reason, we’re delighted to have Sandvik as a technology partner who is providing industry-leading solutions to the challenges we face.”
Fully owned by IGO, the Nova Operation uses long hole and sub-level open stoping with paste backfill. In thr 2022 financial year, it achieved total production of 26,675 t of nickel, 11,483 t of copper, and 982 t of cobalt.