Tag Archives: Epiroc

Epiroc spots further agnostic automation opportunities

Having convinced iron ore miner Roy Hill to move ahead with plans to create the world’s largest autonomous mine, Epiroc and ASI – which the OEM owns 34% of – are ready to take on new equipment-agnostic automation opportunities, Helena Hedblom says.

Speaking after the company’s December quarter and 2022 results were released, Hedblom, President and CEO of Epiroc, said the company and ASI had progressed through three years of rigorous testing of the system, with the solution now entering the “scale” phase.

The Roy Hill project’s Production Verification phase was recently completed with 10 converted haul trucks fitted with vehicle automation kits and in cab clients using ASI Mining’s Mobius traffic management and on–board automation systems to navigate the mine’s virtual map, communicating with ancillary vehicles and the control room.

From March, the companies will start converting the mixed fleet of 96 conventional haul trucks to driverless operation, which is an increase from the 77 trucks originally set to be converted to running autonomously.

“There are certainly opportunities to deploy such solutions elsewhere,” Hedblom told IM. “If you look at how we started autonomous drilling with BHP, we took a step-by-step approach ahead of rolling that out to our customer base.

“We and ASI hope to be able to do that for this type of autonomous haulage solution too.”

Epiroc’s financial results highlighted another robust quarter where orders received increased 18% year-on-year to SEK13.7 billion ($1.3 billion), representing an organic decrease of 4% and organic growth of 3% when excluding Epiroc’s Russian business (which has now ceased). Revenues increased 25% to SEK13.9 billion, an organic increase of 8%, and operating profit increased 25% to SEK3.2 billion.

While this quarter saw fewer large orders than previous three-month periods, it did see the easing of supply challenges and good output levels, Epiroc said, adding that operating profit was at a record high.

The period also saw the company complete the acquisition of four companies – Remote Control Technologies (RCT), Wain-Roy, Radlink and Geoscan – continuing the acceleration of M&A activity Epiroc has become known for.

The purchase of RCT also offers another automation in-road, with the Australia-based company known as an OEM-agnostic automation specialist.

Listing off several of these acquisitions, Hedblom also highlighted the planned acquisition of CR, which has an offering covering surface and underground mining, and products including cast lips, teeth, and protective shrouds installed on mining buckets and loaders.

“CR and ground engaging tools represent a new niche for us,” she said.

When Epiroc announced the planned acquisition in December, it said the move was predicated on expanding its “first-rate offering” of essential consumables and digital solutions.

Hedblom, meanwhile, said the company would continue to evaluate further M&A opportunities as they appeared.

Outside of automation and digitalisation, Hedblom remained confident the company would hit its electrification goals in 2025 – goals that include offering a complete range of emission-free underground products.

“We actually had our first order for the underground tunnelling sector recently,” she said. “We are very well positioned to achieve these targets.”

Epiroc reinforces down-the-hole drill bits with new productivity tools

The launch of Epiroc DTH drill bits, Epiroc says, signals a new era for down-the-hole drilling, with increased productivity and profitability.

Thanks to a new design and the use of the new Epiroc carbide, these drill bits will last up to 20% longer compared with an older version of the company’s drill bits, according to the company.

An all-new face design results in optimised flushing and handling of drill cuttings, while the addition of more buttons on the drill bits increases the overall energy when drilling, Epiroc says.

There are also three different button shapes to choose from to tackle different drilling needs and types of rock: Epiroc Trubbnos, spherical and ballistic buttons.

On top of the new carbide inclusion, these DTH drill bits are produced with improved heat treatment and increased face hardness, resulting in a more durable, sturdier and robust bit, with increased service life, it added.

Fredrik Gransell, Global Product Portfolio Manager at Epiroc Rock Drilling Tools, said: “If we add up the new design features and the improved materials usage, it’s safe to say that Epiroc DTH drill bits will last up to 20% longer compared to an older version of our drill bits.”

Delaney Erickson, Global Product Manager DTH at Epiroc Rock Drilling Tools, added: “You can expect more drilled metres per shift from high-performing Epiroc bits, which is good for both your revenue and profitability.”

Longer service life also means fewer interruptions and more undisturbed drilling, one of the most sought-after improvements, Epiroc says. “Put simply, with less time spent lifting and changing heavy bits, workdays will not just be more productive, they will be more convenient too,” the company added.

Finally, Epiroc DTH drill bits reduce the customers’ footprints as they can drill more and still use fewer bits. As a result, less energy and raw materials are used to produce bits, with less waste and associated transportation.

Epiroc equipping LKAB Kiruna personnel with new Mobilaris safety solutions

LKAB is further increasing its safety capabilities by implementing several solutions from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence platform at its Kiruna mine in northern Sweden, Epiroc says.

The platform, now 100% incorporated into Epiroc following the consolidation of its ownership in Mobilaris MCE AB in 2021, allows all employees to receive alarm and crisis information and confirm directly on their mobile phones in an emergency situation, Epiroc says. Employees can also obtain position support and the ability to navigate faster to rescue chambers with the help of applications on their mobile phones.

This means rescue personnel will now have the tools and means to manage emergencies better and faster, according to the OEM.

Joel Kangas, LKAB’s Kiruna Mine Manager, said: “We want to shorten the time from when an alarm goes off to when everyone is safe, and we believe this digital solution can help us with that.”

Hans Wahlquist, Global Director of Product Management at Epiroc, said: “LKAB already has a high level of safety, but now there are new technologies and new opportunities, and they have the infrastructure required for this installation. This project will give everyone in the mine more information about the situation in real time.”

LKAB is setting a new world standard for mining where digitalisation forms an important step towards easier, safer and more efficient work in the mine. The mobile safety solution project is a collaboration between LKAB and Epiroc, involving both existing products from Epiroc and new developments. The project began in the autumn of 2022 and the goal is to start rolling out the solution in the spring of 2023 at the Kiruna mine.

Andreas Ericson, General Manager Epiroc Mining Intelligence, said: “Collaborations with customers are crucial for finding innovative solutions. This project demonstrates the potential for digital transformation in the mining industry, bringing us one step closer to a smarter and more efficient future.”

The following four modules from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence portfolio are included within the project:

  • Location of people with the ability to receive alarm and crisis messages on their mobile phones through Mobilaris Situational Awareness and Mobilaris Virtual Tag;
  • Distribution of emergency messages and support provision for getting people to safety through Mobilaris Emergency Support;
  • Three dimensional map in vehicles for navigation assistance, increased traffic safety and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris Onboard; and
  • Three dimensional map on the employee’s mobile phone for navigation assistance and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris PocketMine.

Orica, Epiroc and Agnico Eagle carry out world-first development charging milestone at Kittilä

Orica and Epiroc, in partnership with Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel™ – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine in Finland.

The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept that dramatically improves safety at the face, which is one of the highest risk activities in underground mining today, Orica and Epiroc say.

Avatel enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin while offering the best available blast outcomes through the integration of Orica and Epiroc’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.

The first successful blast was loaded and fired on November 22, 2022, comprising 61 Orica WebGen™ 200 Dev wireless primers and 295 kilograms of Orica’s Subtek™ bulk emulsion loaded to a development face at the Kittilä mine.

Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.

“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimisation benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring. The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers, we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”

Sami Niiranen, President for Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognised solutions and advanced Rig Control System, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry.”

Jari Näsi, Development Manager – Kittilä Mine, Agnico Eagle, said: “We are proud to create history here at Kittilä where the first mechanised and wireless development blast was initiated. There is always some risk when working close to the face; being able to do this work safely and efficiently from the cabin is promising, and mechanising the process will give a better blasting result.”

The first commercial implementation of Avatel will take place at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations from December 2022.

Epiroc to acquire Australia-based GET player CR

Epiroc is bolstering its exposure to the ground engaging tools (GET) market through the planned acquisition of Australia-based CR.

The company has agreed to acquire the GET and related digital solutions company as part of a plan to expand its “first-rate offering” of essential consumables and digital solutions, it says.

CR, which has an offering covering surface and underground mining, is headquartered in Brisbane and operates globally. The company’s products include cast lips, teeth, and protective shrouds installed on mining buckets and loaders. Its digital solutions include, among other offerings, the real-time GET loss detection system, GET Trakka, and the Titan 3330 payload management system. The solutions strengthen safety and productivity, and protect against expensive delays in the mining operations, according to CR.

CR has about 400 employees and had revenues of about A$240 million ($163 million) in the 12 months ending September 30, 2022.

“This acquisition will expand our offering of innovative and high-quality consumables and digital solutions that strengthen customers’ productivity and safety,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, says. “We look forward to welcome the strong team at CR to Epiroc.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half 2023.

Epiroc to provide ‘complete’ collision avoidance systems via Mernok acquisition

Epiroc has agreed to acquire Mernok Elektronik (Pty) Ltd, a South Africa-based company that provides advanced collision avoidance systems for mining companies.

With this acquisition, Epiroc will strengthen its position as a world-leading provider of automation and safety solutions for mining operations, it says.

Mernok Elektronik is headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa. The company designs and produces proximity detection technologies and collision avoidance systems of the highest level (EMESRT Level 9) applicable for either a single machine or an entire mixed fleet of machines regardless of manufacturer or type of equipment, it says. Mernok Elektronik’s customers are primarily in Africa, with its systems designed to significantly reduce the risk of vehicle accidents, strengthening operator safety as well as productivity.

The company’s focus was initially vested in three main areas, namely mining applications, military applications and high-end industrial applications. In 2016, it decided to re-focus the company to service only the mining sector. Back in 2019, it teamed up with Booyco Electronics and Selectronic to bring new generation technology to the proximity detection system space.

Mernok Elektronik has about 45 employees and revenues in the fiscal year ending February 28, 2022, of approximately R80 million ($4.7 million).

“Collision avoidance is critical for the mining industry to strengthen safety and productivity, and Mernok’s advanced solutions complement Epiroc’s existing equipment and automation offering well,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “Together we will provide complete collision avoidance solutions to the highest industry standards to support our customers on their journey towards the safest and most optimal operations. We look forward to welcoming the dynamic Mernok team to Epiroc.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023.

Epiroc to bring BEV experience to CharIN CCS charging-focused association

Epiroc says it has decided to join CharIN to work together with industrial leaders with the ambition to create what it says is the best customer experience of charging electric vehicles in mining and other industrial applications.

Back in September, mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale established a Mining Taskforce within CharIN, supported by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), looking to solve interoperability barriers and working towards standardisation on EV charging.

CharIN calls itself a leading global association with over 280 members dedicated to promoting interoperability based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the global standard for charging vehicles of all kinds.

Electrification solutions from Epiroc, the company says, support mining customers globally as they transition towards using battery-electric vehicles (BEV).

“Epiroc is the first OEM to provide a full range of electric vehicles and charging solutions in the mining industry and will bring in-field experiences and technical knowhow to CharIN,” it said.

Lina Jorheden, Operations Managers at Epiroc’s electrification organisation, said: “The decision to join CharIN connect us to an international standard of charging, which makes us unique in the industry.”

Epiroc to use SSAB fossil-free steel on prototype battery-electric Minetruck MT42 truck

Epiroc says it is pioneering a battery-electric underground mine truck prototype made from fossil-free steel in line with the company’s vision to produce the world’s greenest machines.

This partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB, Epiroc says, accelerates the journey towards reduced carbon-dioxide emissions, ultimately helping mining companies reach their climate goals.

In partnership with steel manufacturer SSAB, Epiroc is now prototyping an underground mine truck with a dump box made of fossil-free steel, the battery-electric Minetruck MT42. The result is a 10-t reduction of CO2 emissions per manufactured dump box, the equivalent of taking five gasoline cars out of service for an entire year, Epiroc said.

The partnership will help Epiroc accelerate its journey to create a more sustainable future, deliver the world’s greenest machines and support its customers.

“Our innovation agenda goes hand in hand with our customers’ sustainability agenda,” Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, says. “In the shift to a new, low-carbon economy, our products and services will be a key contributor for our customers to meet their climate goals.”

SSAB aims to deliver fossil-free steel to the market in commercial scale during 2026, and delivered the first steel made of hydrogen-reduced iron in 2021. SSAB works with iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall in Sweden as part of the HYBRIT initiative to develop a value chain for fossil-free iron and steel production, replacing coking coal traditionally needed for iron ore-based steelmaking, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. This process virtually eliminates carbon dioxide-emissions in steel production.

“The development of new technologies is essential to enable the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Johnny Sjöström, Head of SSAB Special Steels, said. “Our fossil-free steel immediately reduces the carbon footprint to near zero without compromising the high quality and properties you would expect from SSAB steels. It is the same steel, just without the negative environmental impact.”

The battery-electric Minetruck MT42 is a breakthrough for Epiroc’s sustainable innovation, the company said. It is a significant step in the company’s ambition to produce cutting-edge, environmentally smart mining equipment. It is emissions-free in operation, generating a strong positive impact on the climate as well as on operators’ work environment and productivity, according to the OEM.

“We all play a part in creating a more sustainable future,” Camilla Goldbeck-Löwe, Vice President Corporate Responsibility at Epiroc, said. “Our partnership with SSAB has enabled us to present the world’s first underground mine truck made using fossil-free steel.”

BHP to trial Epiroc Boomer M2 battery-electric jumbo at Olympic Dam mine

BHP has unveiled a battery-electric Epiroc Boomer M2 jumbo at its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia to help support the company’s target to reduce operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including by minimising reliance on diesel.

The 28.7-t, 14.5-m long battery-electric rig will be powered by a 150 kW traction motor and 150 kW battery system, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from diesel-powered tramming. It will be tested for efficiency, productivity and comfort over the 12-month trial period, BHP said.

Jumbos are used in underground mining development to drill holes, which are then loaded with explosives and open up new areas. Post-blasting, jumbos install large bolts to stabilise mine walls. BHP currently operates 16 Epiroc jumbos at Olympic Dam.

The fully-electric machine will also break new ground in its user experience by reducing noise and vibration, and eliminating heat and the emissions of diesel particulate matter, the miner said.

Andrew Harris, General Manager Olympic Dam Mine, said: “The world is going to need a lot more of South Australia’s high-quality copper, and the team at Olympic Dam is behind our push to produce that copper more sustainably.

“Collaboration with supply partners like Epiroc will be critical to developing the technology required to reduce emissions, while ensuring we continue to improve the safety and productivity of our operations. I can’t wait to see what this new fully-electric jumbo can do.”

BHP’s Group Procurement Officer, James Agar, said: “The fully-electric jumbo is yet another innovation that will support our progress towards achieving our medium-term target of reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by financial year 2030.”

Alisa Bennett, Underground Business Manager for Epiroc Australia and Mongolia, said: “Epiroc are excited to partner with BHP in a new era of electrification in Australia. Epiroc’s ambitious sustainability targets like halved carbon emissions by 2030 matches BHP’s sustainability agenda well. The Boomer M2 Battery rig will facilitate a healthier and safer underground working environment for our customers without compromising on productivity.”

BHP has a medium-term target to reduce operational GHG gas emissions by at least 30% by the 2030 fincial year, from a financial year 2020 baseline. Approximately 40% of BHP’s operational emissions in its baseline year came from diesel-powered vehicles.

The trial of the jumbo also supports BHP’s efforts to minimise the operational impact of diesel particulate matter in underground mining operations by 2025, as part of BHP’s participation in the International Council on Mining and Metals’ Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles initiative.

The fully-electric jumbo trial builds on electric vehicle initiatives at Nickel West in Western Australia, Olympic Dam in South Australia and BMA’s Broadmeadow mine in Queensland. BHP is also collaborating with Caterpillar Inc and Komatsu to develop zero-emissions electrified haul trucks, and battery-electric locomotives with Wabtec Corporation and Progress Rail.

BHP has also signed Power Purchase Agreements to source renewable power for a number of its operations in Chile, Queensland, South Australia (with Iberdrola and Neoen) and Western Australia. BHP also has customer decarbonisation partnerships with steelmakers in China, Japan, Korea, India and Europe, which collectively represent around 17% of reported global steel production capacity.

Epiroc introduces ‘Smart’ and ‘Green’ series to highlight zero-emission and automation benefits

Epiroc has ramped up deliveries of battery-electric vehicles and is now seeing strong results from the field in terms of productivity, CO2 reduction and customer satisfaction, it says.

The “Smart and Green” series is the next step to highlight the benefits of zero-emission technology and automation – together with several strong partnerships and initiatives within the sustainability field, according to Epiroc.

This will see the underground battery-electric range rebranded to the Smart and Green series, broadening the fleet to potentially include other zero-emission technologies in the future, the company said. These battery-powered machines come equipped with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, which makes them ready for smart functionality such as automation and remote control.

“Mining is an essential part of modern society, and crucial in the shift to fossil-free energy sources,” Sarah Hoffman, VP Sales and Marketing at Epiroc’s Underground division, said. “We want to provide the equipment to mine the required metals and minerals in the most sustainable way possible.

“Our ambition is to produce the world’s greenest machines, all the way from cell level to recycling of the batteries. And with smart functionality added, we can help improve safety, productivity, and machine availability even further.”

At the same time, Epiroc is also introducing the Smart series for its diesel-powered range outfitted with RCS. Just like the electric range, the machines are prepared for additional functionality from Epiroc’s 6th Sense offering. The included machine models will feature new decal designs as well as updated product naming.

The batteries of the electric range are produced together with Northvolt, who is committed to building the world’s greenest batteries, Epiroc says.

“Sourcing of materials is done ethically to secure a supply chain free from corruption of people and planet,” it said. “The high energy-density batteries are certified with international standards and features a built-in multi-layer safety system.”

Other sustainability initiatives include Epiroc’s recently announced partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB to secure fossil-free steel for use in the production of Epiroc’s mining equipment. The partnership with SSAB fits well with Epiroc’s ambitious sustainability goals for 2030, which includes halving its CO2e emissions.

In 2021, Epiroc received validation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for its targets to reduce emissions in own operations as well as our customers’ operations where Epiroc equipment is being operated. The SBTi validated Epiroc’s climate targets as being in line with keeping global warming at a maximum 1.5°C, consistent with the latest climate science and the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

By 2025, Epiroc aims to offer a complete range of emission-free underground products.