Tag Archives: ground support

Epiroc makes the ‘impossible possible’ with launch of Boltec ABR

Epiroc has taken another significant step forward in its rock reinforcement automation journey with the release of the Boltec Auto Bolt Reload (ABR).

Combining the company’s ground support nous with its mechanisation and automation knowledge has resulted in a solution able to remove operators from the front end of the bolter – where personnel are most at risk of rock falls from unsupported ground – and increase bolting productivity, especially in poor ground conditions.

With mining operations steadily going deeper as they develop existing and newly discovered orebodies, the rock stresses associated with mining these orebodies are typically increasing, too. This often results in more challenging rock conditions with fractured rock mass, rock burst and squeezing ground, requiring more regular rehabilitation work. The Boltec ABR, with improved operator safety, flexibility and productivity, is the obvious choice for such conditions, Epiroc says.

Epiroc claims the Boltec ABR is the first ever underground rock reinforcement drill rig designed in such a way that the bolt type and machine work together in synergy to deliver optimal safety, performance and quality. The machine can also be equipped with a mesh delivery system.

This synergy also leads to improved accuracy in bolt installations and a reduced need for re-bolting, according to Peter Bray, Global Product Manager, Rock Reinforcement at Epiroc’s Underground division.

“By using a Boltec ABR, you are better able to install bolts and mesh correctly with high quality, reducing the need for re-bolting, re-meshing…and rehab work in the future,” he told attendees of a webinar announcing the product launch today.

The mechanisation of the bolting process – in tandem with the use of self-drilling anchors (SDAs) and pumpable resin – should provide operations with the comfort to follow recommended bolting patterns, reducing the need for the installation of additional bolts that go above and beyond optimal industry practice.

The main design feature of the Boltec ABR is the fully mechanised bolt reloading system. The system automatically feeds bolts from a large carrier magazine – able to hold 44 bolts in 2.4-m or 3-m lengths – to the feed magazine – able to hold eight bolts – all while the operator remains safe inside the cabin. This innovation removes the need for manually reloading the feed magazine, thereby reducing the associated risk to the operator.

The fast auto reloading sequence speeds up the production cycle, with a total of 52 bolts able to be installed in a heading before manual reloading of the carrier magazine. The carrier magazine is mounted on a swing arm that lowers the magazine to ground level for easy reloading behind the machine’s front support jacks – where ground support should already be in place.

Productivity can be further boosted with the operator carrying out the reloading process when bolting is being carried out in multi-bolt auto mode, according to Bray.

The Boltec ABR opens the door to other safety and productivity-enhancing autonomous functionalities previously not compatible with underground bolting machines, according to Epiroc. Tele-remote control and the aforementioned multi-bolt auto are now available options that can provide bolting potential during shift changes or when conditions preclude having an operator physically on the machine. The machine is also available with a battery-electric driveline.

Bray said the development and integration of SDAs and pumpable resin on conventional Boltec machines have been integral to achieving this new functionality.

“If you think about our face drills and long hole production rigs, they have had automation for many years,” he said. “There hasn’t been a mechanical reason why we couldn’t automate a bolting machine; the stopping point has been the type of legacy rock bolts used.”

SDA bolts, which, according to Epiroc, offer faster bolting times and higher quality installation, are not sensitive to varying conditions and will achieve consistently fast installation. This provides easier scheduling accuracy for mine planning and forecasting.

The pumpable resin, developed to address inconsistent and unreliable bolt installations as mines go deeper and rocks become less competent under added pressure, offers fast setting times and full bolt encapsulation, ensuring speed and quality of installation, the OEM says. An added plus is the resin’s insensitivity to wet ground conditions, which can be a desirable characteristic for many deep underground operations.

“Given that it is much cleaner and easier to use than traditional cement, the pumpable resin reduces hours spent on cleaning the machine,” Bray said. “Hence, it is increasing productivity by providing more bolting time.”

Like other Boltecs in the range, the Boltec ABR comes with a boom-mounted bolting system, providing flexibility in terms of coverage and bolt installation angles, according to Bray.

“It’s very rare that you have perfect straight drive profiles in underground mining,” he said. “The boom-mounted bolting system offers the flexibility to address this.”

LKAB, along with the European Institute of Innovation & Technology, have been key partners in the development of this machine, with the prototype tested out at both the Kiruna and Malmberget mines in northern Sweden.

Kiruna suffered a significant seismic event during May 2020 where several areas underground were adversely affected, providing a good test case for the new machine.

These affected areas required rehabilitation with bolts and mesh to make them safe for production again, according to Bray – a process the iron ore miner is continuing to carry out at Kiruna with the prototype Boltec ABR unit.

“The Boltec ABR was the perfect machine for the challenge; it has proven to allow safer operation and significant productivity increases when compared to LKAB’s conventional bolting fleet,” he added.

Epiroc said that up to double productivity gains were achieved in a trial with the Boltec ABR in LKAB’s Malmberget mine when compared with the miner’s conventional bolting fleet.

Bray concluded: “This solution has made the impossible possible. We can now install bolts where it used to be extremely difficult. Giving some relief to the bottleneck that rock reinforcement had become.”

Sandvik consolidates ownership in three Rocbolt Technologies JVs

Sandvik, following the acquisition of ground support and reinforcement specialist, DSI Underground, has taken the opportunity to acquire the joint venture partners’ share of the Rocbolt Technologies JVs DSI was previously engaged in within China, South Africa and Mongolia.

While the company now holds 100% of Rocbolt Technologies in these regions following the transactions with previous 50% owner, Jennmar, it will continue to be a JV partner with Jennmar in Australia under Rocbolt Technologies Australia. Jennmar and DSI established these joint ventures back in 2016.

Rocbolt Technologies will be reported in the Ground Support Division of business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, Sandvik said.

Sandvik completed the acquisition of DSI recently after announcing the planned purchase late last year.

In 2020, DSI Underground had revenues of about €516 million ($612 million), excluding the four joint ventures. The three JVs that will now be fully consolidated had revenues of around €80 million in that same year.

Sandvik reinforces underground mining safety focus with DSI Underground buy

Sandvik has signed an agreement to acquire DSI Underground, a global leader in ground support and reinforcement products, systems and solutions for the underground mining and tunneling industries, from owner Triton.

The OEM has agreed a purchase price of approximately €943 million ($1.15 million) on a cash and debt free basis, it said, adding that the company will be reported in the Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions division.

Stefan Widing, President and CEO of Sandvik, said: “This acquisition is an important step in our growth ambition. DSI Underground’s track record of driving progress and safety in underground operations and its global reach will further strengthen our world-leading market position within mining and rock solutions.”

DSI Underground is present in 70 countries, with 22 production units situated close to end customers, according to Sandvik. The product offering includes bolting systems, injection chemicals and resin capsules.

Henrik Ager, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, added: “With the world’s most extensive choice of ground support products and systems, DSI Underground’s offering is highly complementary and enables us to deliver greater value and safety to our customers. The deal gives DSI Underground access to Sandvik’s substantial R&D, global service and sales network, complements our growing aftermarket business and strengthens our leadership in underground mining and tunnelling.”

Michael Reich, CEO DSI Underground, said: “With our knowledge of ground support technologies, we can add a valuable and complementary offering to Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. On the other hand, we will benefit from the knowledge of the new group and Sandvik’s global customer network.”

DSI Underground has around 2,000 employees, with revenue for 2020 expected to be about €518 million ($631 million, excluding the four joint ventures that are part of the acquisition). The purchase price is approximately €943 million on a cash and debt free basis.

The transaction is expected to close by mid-2021 and is subject to relevant regulatory approvals.

Montana Tech puts Epiroc Swellex bolts to the test

Mining engineering students at Montana Technological University are testing bolt integrity when loaded using a Ground Support Pull Test Kit and Swellex bolts donated by Epiroc.

The Montana Tech mining engineering program provides students with education, access to cutting-edge labs and participation in leading research, Epiroc says. The school has the only on-campus underground mine education centre in the US and uses it to give students hands-on experience.

“Working with modern equipment is also an important part of preparing students for the workforce,” Epiroc says. For this, the Mining Engineering department often relies on donations from equipment manufacturers.

Students are testing how much load and deformation they can get from Swellex bolts without losing integrity. This test project began as a challenge from a leading mining corporation.

To help make the project a reality, Epiroc donated the Ground Support Pull Test Kit and Swellex bolts, with an Epiroc team led by Adrian Berghorst, Segment Business Manager – Ground Support, and Eric Ball, Northwest District Sales Manager – Rock Drilling Tools, providing installation and hands-on training support.

As part of the test, sleeves will be used on bolts to qualify the critical bond length of Swellex bolts under forced displacement without loss of integrity in the bolts. The Pull Test Kit supplied will be essential to testing the bolts’ load and deformation characteristics in that rock mass and borehole.

In addition to benefiting the students, the research performed also allows the school to publish their findings, Epiroc says.

Scott Rosenthal, Mining Engineering Department Head, Associate Professor, Mining Engineering at Montana Tech, said: “With access to this equipment, students can do something unique and different. We thrive thanks to the support of industry partners like Epiroc.”

Shawn Cheney, Epiroc Business Line Manager – Rock Drilling Tools, added: “Partnering with Montana Tech helps give the next generation of miners a great start, enables additional research on mining limitations and capabilities, and gives Epiroc additional insights so we can continue our ongoing quest for improvement in mining.”

Ground support, electrification, automation, digitalisation all part of MacLean’s PERUMIN 34 showcase

The upcoming PERUMIN 34 mining convention in Arequipa (September 16-20) is providing Canada-based mining vehicle manufacturer MacLean Engineering a chance to share its latest field data and learnings from product development efforts in the areas of ground support, electrification, automation, and digitalisation.

This includes face bolting, full-fleet battery electrification, tele-remote and driver assist vehicle operation, real-time vehicle monitoring, and virtual reality training.

MacLean’s participating delegation includes a full contingent of sales and product management specialists both from the MacLean Peru branch, in Lima, as well as from head office in Canada.

The company first established a branch in Lima in 2012 to provide technical and sales support to the local mining industry. Since that time, the company has grown its in-country staffing contingent to over 50 employees, including over 40 mining vehicle technicians who provide site-level service and support to mines throughout the country.

Peru is also the first international mining jurisdiction where MacLean has sold and commissioned its latest ground support installation option – face bolting on the 975 Omnia scissor bolter – with two units currently working underground for bolting the face within the underground mining cycle. At least one of these is at the Nexa Resources’ owned Atacocha zinc-copper-lead-silver-gold operation in the Peruvian Andes (pictured).

MacLean President, Kevin MacLean, said the company’s Lima branch is at the heart of its commitment to underground mining, not only in Peru but also across South America.

Tony Caron, MacLean’s Vice President of Latin America, Quebec and Nunavut, said: “Our approach in Peru has stayed faithful to our approach to building a lasting business in other international markets, which is to establish local roots and take a long-term view, focusing on nurturing customer partnerships.

“From the Abitibi region of northwest Quebec to the nickel basin and gold mines of northern Ontario; from the Kivalliq region of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic to Nevada, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Australia – in each of these unique mining geographies, geologies and cultures, the one constant is the importance of in-country service and support.”

MacLean’s Product Manager for Bolting, Stephen Denomme, said the MacLean bolter is the benchmark for ground support installation safety, productivity and versatility in Canadian hard-rock mines. “With our latest face bolting design, we are able to offer up to the mining industry in Latin America, a semi-mechanised bolting option where the operator is always working under protected ground, where you get best-in-class productivity for bolts and screen installed per shift, along with the versatility of multiple bolt-type installation and a deck configuration that allows for the storage of a full shift of consumables,” he said.

“This is the MacLean bolting approach and technology that we look forward to sharing with industry colleagues during the week of PERUMIN 34 in Arequipa.”