Tag Archives: Epiroc

Epiroc confirms mining market growth, automation uptick in Q3 results

The trend of equipment automation is no longer confined to certain regions or sectors; it is a global phenomenon. That is the impression Epiroc has provided in the last few months, as well as in its September quarter results, the latter of which was released today.

Having reported a swelling order book for this quarter – including record orders received of SEK12.2 billion ($1.4 billion) and a 29% year-on-year improvement in operating profit to SEK2.4 billion – the company’s fortunes continue to be representative of a wider uptick in the mining industry.

This was characterised by several large orders in the three-month period, five of which were valued at more than SEK100 million.

The variety of these orders – representing greenfield and brownfield operations – was interesting, reinforcing the idea that the equipment and service sales were attributed to growing – as opposed to sustaining – production levels from the industry.

What was also worth pointing out was the increased levels of automation that came with these bookings.

IAMGOLD’s order for six Epiroc Pit Viper 231 blasthole drill rigs for its Côté Gold operation in Ontario, Canada, included plans to use them in a “fully autonomous” mode; one of the Boltec machines being supplied to LKAB’s underground mines in Sweden will be equipped with a new automated pumpable resin system; and some of the drill rigs ordered by Eti Bakir in Turkey and Dazhong Mining Co Ltd in China will come fitted with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, which makes them ready for automation and remote control.

“We see that there are high levels of interest for automation,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc President and CEO, told IM shortly after the results were released. “Depending on the site, there is always a consideration around automation.

“These are step-by-step developments, though.”

This is likely to mean some companies progress to the highest levels of automation, while others reap the benefits from tele-remote operation.

In addition to the productivity and safety benefits that companies are receiving from this operating transition, there is also a sustainability advantage, according to Hedblom.

Diesel-powered machines with automated elements are being fitted with more energy efficient components and are burning less diesel through optimised operation of equipment.

Ahead of a full on move to battery-electric machines – which are not yet automated – these benefits are important for an industry looking to decarbonise.

“Energy efficiency has always been a priority in our R&D investments,” Hedblom said on an analyst call on the same day. “We’re working on that with our diesel machines too.

“That is the fastest way we can have an impact on CO2 emissions for the industry.”

By continuing to work on the base machines – improving their efficiency as much as possible – the company is ensuring each new machine has a positive impact.

And, of course, the company is now offering an electrification roadmap to miners with existing diesel-powered fleets.

This is where the recently announced acquisition of Canada-based FVT Research is relevant.

“We see this transaction as a strategic move to transform the sector,” Hedblom told IM.

FVT played an integral role in a recent project to convert a diesel-powered Epiroc Scooptram ST1030 loader to battery-electric mode, and Hedblom sees the company helping create a much larger battery-electric rebuild program.

It also slots nicely into the company’s wider electrification plans, as Hedblom outlined on the analyst call.

“We can then take on a project, do the electrical mine infrastructure with the Meglab capabilities, we can convert some of the machines (FVT Research) and, at the same time, add new machines and then bundle it with Batteries as a Service,” she said.

Also of note in the results was the continued growth of Epiroc’s aftermarket business. In the three-month period, it represented 72% of revenues, up from 69% in the same quarter a year ago. For service, orders received increased 21% to SEK4.8 billion, corresponding to 13% organic growth.

Hedblom mentioned the company has continued to gain market share in this area, as it focused on keeping machines out in the field up and running.

Increased connectivity to these machines has helped support this, with the number of units delivered with connectivity increasing by more than 30% year-on-year, according to Hedblom.

More details of this development are likely to follow in the company’s December 1 Capital Markets Day, but Hedblom said this increased connectivity was underlining product performance, providing optimisation opportunities and showing potential market prospects.

LKAB to boost remote drilling operations with new Epiroc Boomer, Boltec and Simba rigs

Epiroc says it has won a large order for a variety of underground mining equipment including Boomer face drilling rigs, Boltec rock reinforcement rigs and a Simba production drilling rig from LKAB in Sweden.

LKAB, Europe’s largest iron ore producer, is set to use the rigs at its Malmberget and Kiruna underground iron ore mines in northern Sweden. The order is valued at SEK105 million ($12.2 million) and was booked in the third (September) quarter of 2021.

“Epiroc and LKAB have a long history together as partners around innovative technologies, always aimed at optimising operations in the most productive and sustainable way,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said.

The machines include many advanced automation features, according to Epiroc.

For example, the Simba production drill rig will be operated remotely from a control room in the Kiruna mine. This rig adds to LKAB’s existing fleet of six Simba production drill rigs that are remotely controlled from the control room and two that are remotely controlled in the mine environment.

One of the Boltec machines (an example pictured) will also be equipped with a new automated pumpable resin system, a key component in Epiroc’s automated bolting development. All the machines come with Epiroc’s telematics system Certiq, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time.

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.

Epiroc to supply Turkey’s largest mining company with drills, loaders and trucks

Epiroc says it has won a large order for mining equipment from Eti Bakir in Turkey, which includes a variety of drill rigs, trucks and loaders.

The machines will be used to expand three underground copper mines – Kastamonu Küre, Artvin Murgul and Siirt Madenköywhile – making the operations as productive and safe as possible, the OEM says.

The equipment order is valued at approximately SEK140 million ($16 million) and was booked in the September quarter of 2021. In addition to the equipment, the customer has also ordered service, spare parts and consumables.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “Epiroc has a long-standing, strong partnership with Eti Bakir, and we are happy to play a key role as the company expands its operations while focusing on safety and productivity.”

“We are proud that 42 t underground trucks with ejector box in copper mines will be used for the first time in Turkey,” Gokhan Zengin, Eti Bakır Machine Manager, said. “Our cooperation with Epiroc has a long history; we also have a component agreement since six years and we started using Epiroc MD20 rock drills for underground operation development as of last year.”

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

Epiroc-Fraser McGill collaboration highlights battery-electric vehicle benefits

Epiroc says its collaboration with Fraser McGill on an impact study of battery-electric vehicles has exceeded expectations, opening up a new frontier in the worldwide underground power revolution.

In 2018, Epiroc launched a new suite of battery-powered products. Following that, the company approached one of the partners in the Waterberg Platinum Group Metals project in South Africa to present the equipment. As a greenfield project, the mine will be able to tailor its planned infrastructure to new equipment technologies, thereby maximising potential benefits. Specialist mining and minerals advisory company, Fraser McGill, was approached to conduct an impact study of battery-electric vehicles and requested help from industry leader Epiroc.

Epiroc’s Mining & Construction publication brought Epiroc’s Don Thompson and Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill, together to discuss what they found.

Epiroc: How did Fraser McGill come to cooperate with Epiroc on this study?

RM: I’ve been involved with the Waterberg project for many years. I’d been interested in battery-vehicle technologies, specifically to reduce the ventilation and the cooling requirements, but hadn’t had the opportunity to look at battery vehicles in detail. We weren’t looking to partner with one supplier. We were conducting a broad assessment, looking at the impact of battery-electric vehicles on large underground projects – not specifically Epiroc’s equipment. But Epiroc was the furthest ahead in the game, and still is. With the relationship we had with Epiroc, it was a natural fit.

Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill

Epiroc: What practical steps did your collaboration entail?

DT: Epiroc introduced our first-generation battery-electric fleet in Canada in 2016. We launched the next generation in 2018, with better battery and motor technology. By then we had clocked up more than 100,000 hours, so we had good data, based on actual machines running in production environments. For this study, we provided the technical comparison of diesel versus battery electric, and the benefits thereof, because we can supply the diesel equivalent of a battery-electric machine. We could provide a comparison of heat generation – with ventilation, there’s a significant reduction of what is required. We could also provide the emissions. That was provided to Rob and his team.

RM: Diesel vehicles have been around a long time. There is a lot of data from operations, in terms of how they perform, costs, maintenance schedules and replacement schedules. With the electric vehicles being newer, we had to rely on Epiroc to make a lot of theoretical data available related to the design, and data they’ve been gathering since they rolled out their first generation and the next-generation machines. We conducted the study, but relied on Epiroc to provide us with input and insights, and technical and costing information that allowed us to do an assessment. The comparison goes far beyond comparing two vehicle technologies. The battery vehicle certainly is more efficient and, over time, cheaper. But a lot of the benefits relate to the environment that they operate in – to improvements in health, safety and productivity of workers.

Epiroc: How did your collaboration help identify mine infrastructure and design modifications needed?

DT: We provided the specifications on the chargers required. We provided a number of scenarios and battery selections, and different layouts of charging stations. Fraser McGill would recommend where the client should put the charging station and we could recommend the capacity of the chargers, based on the size and number of vehicles.

RM: A crucial opportunity in a greenfield project is that it allows you to consider how an underground mine would be designed differently if you started with a battery-electric vehicle in mind.

DT: The technical data Epiroc provided would be applicable to greenfield and brownfield operations, but it’s much more suited to a greenfield operation because you can adjust the mine layout. The mine would consider redesigning the tunnel layout to see where we can enhance the regeneration of batteries because it reduces the cost.

RM: An example is the hauling model. If we predominantly hauled rock on the incline versus the decline, we would significantly increase our battery operating cost. It’s something we can quantify already, but it requires that redesign.

Epiroc: What made your collaboration a success, and what have you learned from it?

DT: Interest from the client was probably the main driver. They realised that, with a greenfield project, it made sense to do a trade-off study. But I don’t think we could have done this alone. We don’t have the resources, here or in Sweden, when it comes to the full package calculation – be it ventilation, the mining layout, or contacts with the different clients.

Don Thompson, Manager Global Customer Relationships, Epiroc

RM: Any collaboration is successful if you’ve got the same vision. We must ensure we provide decision-making tools that are well informed, so we need to speak to people who really know what they’re talking about. Then we can comfortably go to our mining customers and say: this is really the way to go. I’m very impressed with what Epiroc has done in this regard.

Epiroc: How was the study received?

RM: Since completing this study and circulating some of the outcomes, we’ve had interest in Canada, in Australia and from several customers in South Africa who we are talking to about doing similar studies. The technologies are so attractive, and customers are asking: Where do I start? How do I roll it out? What’s the state of the technology?

Epiroc: Do you foresee future collaboration?

RM: Absolutely. It’s been a good experience, and we rely on working with experts. We are thrilled to have worked with a technology leader like Epiroc.

DT: Another client has shown an interest in battery-electric technology for a new mine they are developing. They want to do a comparative study, and we hope to collaborate with Fraser McGill on this, too.

This interview is an edited version of a piece that first appeared here

Epiroc introduces Automatic Bit Changer for hands-free bit changes on blasthole drills

Epiroc has introduced the Automatic Bit Changer (ABC) for hands-free bit changes on Pit Viper 270 and Pit Viper 290 series drill rigs.

The ABC option is designed to change rotary tricone bits faster than manual exchanges and eliminates human interaction with the drill string for a safer way to operate a drill fleet, the company says.

It makes it possible to complete drill bit changes with a single touch of a button, according to Epiroc. This can be done from either a remotely based control room or in the comfort of the cab.

“The ABC option optimises productivity and efficiency of the drilling operation and improves safety by eliminating exposure to live work environments,” Epiroc added.

The ABC carousel can store three rotary tricone bits in varying sizes and cutting structure, for a total of four on-board bits, for flexibility and versatility on a drill site. Unique bit adapters allow the system to safely replace the worn drill bits with new fresh drill bits without exposure to live work.

Epiroc says the ABC is capable of completing a bit change in significantly less time than a manual process for decreased downtime. Time saved by eliminating manual drill changes increases machine utilisation and profitability.

“The Automatic Bit Changer is the next step in autonomous drilling advancements,” Tim Ledbetter, Vice President – Automation R&D, said. “The process of continuously evaluating how to move the industry forward is key to this innovation. We will eliminate live work for our customers with safer, more productive technology, machines and operations.”

Customising a Pit Viper 270 or Pit Viper 290 drill rig with the ABC option offers many benefits for the operator, Epiroc claims. It reduces the possibility of human error, injuries related to heavy lifting, lost time on manual adjustments and accidents.

Eliminating these Live Work tasks is crucial in the mining industry, with several options for Live Work Elimination available for a range of Epiroc equipment.

At the conclusion of field trials, the ABC will be available for new drills and retrofit of drills already in the field, Epiroc says.

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.

Epiroc looks to set underground rock reinforcement standard with Boltec M10, E10

Epiroc is showcasing the latest additions to its rock reinforcement line at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, with the new Boltec M10 and Boltec E10.

The Boltect M10 (pictured) and the larger Boltec E10 are fully mechanised rock bolting rigs for medium- and large-sized tunnels, designed to increase productivity and bolt installation quality thanks to intelligent options and compatibility with different bolt types, according to the company.

Peter Bray, Global Product Manager, Rock Reinforcement Equipment with Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “As mining operations move ever deeper underground, the difficulty in bolting and securing increasingly fragmented rock is rising. The Boltec M10 and Boltec E10 introduce previously unavailable autonomous functionality: this is the benchmark in underground rock reinforcement.”

With self-drilling anchor bolts (SDA) in combination with pumpable resin, the Boltec M10 and Boltec E10 can perform single bolt and multi-bolt installation automatically, according to Epiroc. These new functions work hand-in-hand with teleremote bolting and offer bolting potential during shift changes or other situations where off-board control during bolting is needed, the company says.

With in-built flexibility, the Boltec M10 and E10 have the ability to handle several different types of bolts, mesh and installation methods as well as radial, face bolting and extension drilling capability, Epiroc says. The boom bolter concept ensures the operator stays at a safe distance from the working area of the machine during the bolting process.

The new Boltec rigs come with an optional battery-electric driveline, which brings additional advancements for operator health, maintenance, ventilation and cooling.

The Boltec M10 and Boltec E10 also come with a completely redesigned operator station. The optional ROPS- and FOPS-certified cabin sets new standards for operator safety and comfort thanks to significantly reduced noise levels down to only (65 dB(A)), HEPA air filtration and better visibility, according to Epiroc. The air-conditioning system also features automatic temperature adjustment, further boosting operator comfort.

Epiroc bolsters battery-electric conversion expertise with FVT Research acquisition

Epiroc has agreed to acquire the business and assets of FVT Research Inc, a Canadian company with expertise in converting diesel-powered mining machines to battery-electric vehicles.

FVT Research, based in Vancouver, Canada, designs diesel-to-battery conversion kits and rebuilds mining machines to electric versions. The company has also recently been part of a successful project to convert the diesel-powered Epiroc Scooptram ST1030 loader to battery electric.

FVT Research has about 25 employees and had revenues in 2020 of C$4 million ($3.2 million).

“Bringing the strong team at FVT Research into the Epiroc Group fits perfectly into our strategy to provide emissions-free battery-electric vehicles,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “Our customers are increasingly discovering the significant benefits that come with using battery-electric vehicles, and FVT Research’s technical expertise and competence will be key assets for Epiroc as we continue to provide more solutions in this area.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second half 2021, with the transaction not subject to a disclosure obligation pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

Epiroc drills, bolters to help Dazhong Mining expand Chinese iron ore mines

Epiroc says it has won a large order for mining equipment and service from Dazhong Mining Co Ltd in China as part of a plan to expand two of its underground iron ore mines in the most “safe and productive manner possible”.

Dazhong Mining has ordered a variety of rigs for face drilling, production and rock reinforcement for use at the Zhouyoufang and Zhongxinji mines in the Anhui Province. The order is valued at about SEK200 million ($23 million) and was booked in the September quarter of 2021. In addition to the equipment, the order includes on-site service and training including sophisticated simulators, which provide a safe and realistic environment to enhance the skills of machine operators, Epiroc says.

The machines ordered include Boomer face drilling rigs (including the Boomer S2 Face Drill), Simba production drilling rigs, and Boltec and Cabletec rock reinforcement rigs.

Dazhong Mining is rated as a national Green Mine Enterprise, meaning it is recognised for its sustainable way of mining, according to the OEM. The company also purchased a large number of machines from Epiroc in 2020.

“Epiroc is happy to team up again with Dazhong Mining so it can expand its operations further while strengthening safety, sustainability and productivity,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, says.

The Head of Dazhong Mining said: “Our operations have truly become more safe, environmentally friendly and efficient through Epiroc’s equipment and service. We are happy that this model will continue to be applied to the expansion of two mines. We have a good long-term partnership with Epiroc as this supports us with a high-level technical resource which promotes the sustainable development of the mining industry.”

The machines for Dazhong will be equipped with Epiroc’s telematics system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time, and most of the units will have Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, installed, which makes them ready for automation and remote control. The equipment will be delivered in 2021 and 2022.