Tag Archives: MINExpo 2021

Zyfra presents new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution at MINExpo 2021

At MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, Zyfra, a Finnish-Russian group of companies specialising in AI and IIoT based solutions for mining and other heavy industries, has presented its new ZR RoboDrill autonomous drill rig solution.

The ZR RoboDrill can improve productivity and personnel safety as well as reduce drilling operation costs, according to Zyfra. The system is designed to autonomously operate one or more drill rigs. This could see execution of the drill plan remotely controlled by an operator who can manage up to four drills at the same time, tracking the status of each machine.

This solution can autonomously change the rig position within the drilling site using an optimised route, the company sats. While moving, it will scan the surrounding area for obstacles, equipment and personnel.

While drilling, the rig’s platform and mast level will be maintained within 0.3° in two planes. The autonomous drill is equipped with an automatic emergency stop system, which can guarantee the safety of personnel in the work zone, according to Zyfra. The operator in the control room can take over control of the drill rig at any time, using respective monitors and all information required for manual remote operation.

Unmanned technologies can keep operators out of zones deemed hazardous because of various mining, geological and technical factors, creating a safe and comfortable working environment as well as reducing the risks to occupational health.

Pavel Rastopshin, Managing Director at the Zyfra Group, says: “Digital transformation and its current stage, automation of mining processes, are key factors for improving efficiency and safety of mining as well as competitiveness of mining companies in the increasingly complex mining, geological, technical and climatic conditions. Zyfra’s mining division has been engaged in the digital transformation of mining businesses for over three decades and our autonomous drill rig solution is another milestone in the transition to unmanned mining operations in the world.”

The new ZR RoboDrill solution is OEM-agnostic and can be installed on most new or used drill rigs. It is compatible with diesel and electric-powered drills, the company says.

Caterpillar launches new Connected Worker system for extra layer of mine site safety

Expanding the Cat® MineStar™ Detect portfolio, Caterpillar has launched Connected Worker, a Guardhat™ developed safety and productivity solution for surface mining operations, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas.

The Connected Worker system combines smart wearable technology with the power of analytics to deliver an added layer of protection against a variety of safety risks at the site.

Scalable to accommodate both small and large operations, Connected Worker improves safety by alerting all connected workers of hazardous situations in real-time, delivering up to a 50% reduction in lost-time reportable incidents, according to Cat. The system’s ability to track worker location plus enhanced communications through audio, video and image transmission also help to increase mine site productivity. A range of safety, productivity and benchmarking reports, customisable to fit the site’s needs, boosts operational efficiency, Cat says.

The worker safety system consists of three major components: the wearable hardware; software that captures and reports data; and the Internet of Things (IoT) platform that receives reports from the field and pushes out potential safety risks to workers.

Creating a safer working environment, Connected Worker helps to detect and report hazardous areas at the mine, unsafe exposure to environmental elements and communicates alerts to affected workers. The system communicates evacuation orders, fall detections, SOS signals and geofence violations, the company added.

There are three wearable options available to communicate with workers. An alternative to PPE, the HC1 Hardhat delivers real-time positions through an embedded global navigation satellite systems chip. With the use of Ultra-Wideband at the site, the hardhat wearable increases situational awareness indoors by offering 3D-tracking – longitude, latitude and elevation – helping to quickly locate a worker in an emergency. The hardhat features video and audio call, push-to-talk, and offline geofence and recording capabilities.

The TA1 wearable tag delivers tracking GNSS and Bluetooth tracking outdoors. It provides SOS, evacuation and social distancing alerts as well as notifies workers of geofence breaches. Workers can capture images and videos to report hazards, which are automatically shared with the safety control centre, so teams can quickly develop geofences around the hazard to boost worker safety.

A companion hardware for hybrid deployment, the smartphone app for Android™ devices offers a solution for managing and monitoring team members in an outdoor environment. The app allows field managers to communicate with workers, issue SOS alerts and can be used to capture images and video of hazardous areas for reporting.

Offering a deeper level of communication and reporting than other systems, Connected Worker creates a safety ecosystem at the mine site, where actionable data is captured and stored for analysis, Cat says. The SCC allows managers to view worker location and data in near real time to quickly communicate unsafe situations to workers in the field. All data is captured and stored on a local server or in the cloud, depending on the mine’s preferences.

A broad range of customisable reports allows mines to review, analyse and predict hazardous situations to prevent future safety incidents. Among the system-generated reports are: overview reports of selected events; zonal reports of violations and emergency evacuations; location reports with heat signatures designating highly travelled areas at the mines; and sensor reading reports that include temperature, noise, humidity and pressure of the working environment.

Connected worker will be commercially available in the March quarter of 2022.

Terelion expands into down-the-hole drilling market with Warrior product line

Terelion, a manufacturer of rotary drill bits to the mining industry, is gearing up to expand into the down-the-hole (DTH) market with its latest product release at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas.

In addition to the existing rotary bits range, Terelion now offers the Warrior product line of DTH hammers and bits in sizes from 4-8 in (102-203 mm.

Traditionally, DTH is used for drilling up to 10 in production blastholes in quarries and surface mines, with the ability to drill fast with minimum hole deviation in hard and fissured rock earning its popularity. It is also used for drilling pre-split and buffer holes in large surface mining operations where production drilling is done by rotary.

Rahul Obla, DTH product line director at Terelion, said: “This makes our new Warrior DTH range a perfect complement for our customers, who mostly use our rotary tools in their production drilling.”

Introducing the Warrior DTH product line with a full range covering 4 in, 5 in, 6 in, 7 in and 8 in hammers is a natural step for Terelion’s new growth strategy, it says.

“Having both rotary and DTH offerings allows Terelion to be the productivity partner of choice for large mining customers who use both methods of drilling,” the company said.

Obla added: “Our rotary drilling customers appreciate our premium product offering and committed way of doing business. Now they can get their DTH tools in the same way from us as well. And, of course, we address any operations using DTH also for production drilling that seek an agile and committed tools supplier.”

Mining’s glide path to zero emissions

As MINExpo 2021 opened, Paul Moore sat down with Denise Johnson, Caterpillar Group President, and Brian Weller, Chief Engineer and General Manager, Resource Industries Electrification, talking everything from helping customers hit carbon reduction targets to the challenges and opportunities of combining battery haulage with autonomy 

Has the speed at which mining companies are looking to cut their Scope 1 emissions, with significant fixed reduction targets by 2030, taken Caterpillar by surprise?  

DJ: We have been talking for a number of years to the mining companies about zero emissions targets over the longer term but with no hard dates established at the time we started talking. There have been several related initiatives since then – notably the ICMM’s Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV), that has involved the major OEMs including ourselves as well as a number of the major mining companies. These initiatives have looked at GHG reduction but also areas like collision avoidance and DPM reduction underground. But the crystallisation of fixed dates you mention from the major mining houses over the last 12-18 months created much more of a roadmap to which we had to put hard development targets on – and also I think accelerated our roadmap. It gave us more clarity on the path forward and when you make commitments to investors as these companies have, they have to deliver on those reductions. Then you start to break down what pieces make up that reduction – and its not just mobile equipment – but certainly for most large mining sites, the big trucks are a meaningful portion, particularly when just looking at Scope 1 emissions. Then you start to focus in on what is it that needs to change first and you can prioritise the development process.

Your recent agreement with BHP focuses on battery truck development – are you still taking an agnostic future powertrain approach? And the statement said they will have early access to Cat zero emissions equipment – can you expand on what that means? 

BW: When you’re evaluating new machines and technology platforms, you have to understand your site energy source. We have done enough analysis that has shown that the solution is highly dependent on the individual project and site in terms of the machines being used and the application. There are project examples where running a hydrogen fuel cell powered fleet represents the best value in terms of competitive TCO. But I could take the same truck for a different application in a different part of the world, and this is no longer the case. So the solution you will see will have different energy sources depending on the product and where it is going to go. There are examples where fuel cells will be a higher cost to run than battery electric and vice versa.

DJ: Infrastructure is the big variable. A particular project may be in a part of the world that does not have access to renewable energy or even access to a grid. They may have a different energy profile for the minesite itself that lends itself to a particular mobile fleet power source. Plus the cost of energy changes from region to region.

BW: On power agnostic if you mean that we are open to a number of future power solutions – battery and hydrogen being two, but also others – then yes we are open to multiple options depending on what the customer needs. The customers are on what I like to call a glide path. They have a stack of carbon generating sources – everything from forklifts in the maintenance shop to the conveyors and the trucks. Every single minesite has to look at where carbon is being produced and then decide over time when to replace it and with what technology. That recipe is very unique to that site, location, asset base and life of mine.

DJ: There are also examples where customers are using bio fuels today to get them part of the way to their interim carbon reduction goals.

BW: On the early technology access point, with emissions reduction, we like to refer to four parts – people, process, infrastructure and technology. The infrastructure part is so significant in terms of the learnings that have to happen within a minesite, it is almost as large as those for us on the truck development side whether you are talking about safety protocols, how you will charge, how you will deal with energy swings. So given this, it makes sense for mining companies to have access to early machines so that they can begin making that journey.

DJ: With the exception of a few early pilot units, we traditionally would wait until we are in factory production before putting iron on a customer site. This is going to be a little different – because of the significance of the infrastructure issue. But autonomy also required major change management and learnings which was achieved – and this will be the same. Doing this together with the mining customers allows us both to learn together and to learn faster.

Can Stage V engines, trolley assist, dual fuel and other approaches give customers the medium term emissions cuts they are looking for before we get to all battery trucks for example? 

BW: It goes back to the customer glide path and the right recipe for carbon reduction that is very site specific. One customer may have an application where they can put trolley in effectively, another may not – it is very site specific. The same applies to biofuels and LNG. This is why you are seeing so much variation in how mines are proceeding because the solution is often so unique to a project and site. And saying that one technology will get the whole industry there is unrealistic. It is more a series of steps that will be taken. Look at electric shovels – most diesel hydraulic shovels today have a tethered electric option. And more customers are now looking to use that. I would say the technologies you mention are not just an interim step – they are part of the zero engine emissions pathway. On Stage V engines, it is important to clarify these are mainly reducing things like NOx and PM – whereas something like battery or trolley is very focused on carbon reduction.

How do we make things like battery charging compatible with autonomous mining?  

DJ: Actually this is one of the really exciting parts of showing what technology can do. Think about a traditional truck with a driver – they will look at how much diesel fuel they have and generally, a tank is enough for three shifts or 24 hours. As you move to electric – you need to charge those trucks much more frequently. You are in a position where, depending on where you are on the minesite, you may not get back to a charging station and the truck will get stuck. The layer of technology to know where you are in your battery level as well as where you are in the haul cycle is critical.  Technology is the key to optimise battery performance, battery life, and production. And we have conversations every day with mining customers on these sorts of issues. Autonomy is going to be a part of the future for almost all major mines as well as many of the smaller ones, so it will go hand in hand with electrification.

You have gone with a mobile charger strategy with underground equipment – are you also looking to mobile options for surface mining? 

BW: Absolutely – because the face of the mine is constantly moving, so you will have to move the chargers at some point. Some mines may also look to battery charging via trolley. There are a number of methods including static or dynamic charging. With trolley charging of a battery, you are using it either to displace the energy running through the battery or for charging the battery. It is just a question of how am I getting energy on board and if there is an opportunistic way to do it, then mines will do it. But remember, with trolley you still have to put that infrastructure in with substations and cabling. The mobile chargers will be the same and fast charging to keep these trucks running will require significant energy so substations will be needed here too. Think about the cabling and substations that work today with large rope shovels which have to be moved – this will happen with truck chargers too.

Will robotic charging also make sense in terms of autonomy extension? 

BW: You want the charging to be safe, fast and efficient. If a robotic arm or other similar system can be made to work efficiently then of course it would be preferred – in the same way some mines are already running robotic diesel fuelling today.

Does Caterpillar have a prototype all battery truck or FCEV truck running today at your test facility?   

DJ: Talking underground – we have battery electric R1700 XE units running right now at customer sites. On large mining trucks, we have significant development work underway and will have customers to the Tucson Proving Ground next year to see our integrated solutions in person, including prototype large mining trucks.

BW: Caterpillar’s design philosophy is to do a lot of analysis and simulation first. Then we do the component level. Actually, putting the truck together isn’t the hardest part. We are spending very significant time on software, components and systems.

Do you see a period during which “new power” trucks will have to coexist with conventional trucks as new technology is phased in?  

DJ: Aside from some greenfield projects there will be a phased introduction where mines have large existing fleets. So yes, the new power trucks will coexist for some time at many mines with conventional trucks – they will be “feathered in” if you will.

BW: Coming back to the infrastructure point – it is such a big part of this. The customer may say we have the capability to run a certain number of all electric trucks today based on the site energy profile. They may want to run them in a particular part of the mine first – which is common with autonomy introduction but in the case of electric, they may do it, so they don’t have to have a lot of chargers in the main part of the mine from the outset.

Will fleet management systems have to change to allow for new power trucks? 

BW: Of course, and we have the intention to do that with MineStar but also with Command for hauling. Think about the amount of information you are going to need from a battery powered truck for example. We like to talk about the ACE concept – autonomy, connectivity and electrification. There is no point in coming up with a spot solution for one small part of it. The technology allows us to do things we could never do before when these key technology offerings are fully integrated with the iron. You might have a minesite that has a downhill haul that over time will become a flat haul and then will become an uphill haul from deeper in the pit. Those changes will also change how much energy is used and how it is used depending on where the mine lifecycle is.

DJ: Each site is going to be unique not only in the equipment and power source used but also in the solutions that will unfold relating to ACE. Until now the equipment has been put in and the customer largely decides how to marry it with their mine plan and schedules to optimise the mine. For these new power sites, the approach will be customised depending on the particular recipe that is suited to that mine. They might even have the same hardware, but a different connectivity and software approach – how it is all knitted together.

Will your agreement with Nouveau Monde Graphite be a big step in learning as one of the first greenfield zero emissions mines? 

DJ: It’s a really exciting project and we are happy to be leveraging it to help us learn across our organisation. Plus its more than just about the mobile equipment at this site – we are also bringing in a lot of solutions to support the infrastructure from our Energy and Transportation segment. It is a hydro powered project, so it is all renewable. How do you make sure that all the energy transfer across the site is done in a way that allows them to optimise their mining processes? So we are really leveraging a broad section of the Caterpillar company – beyond just the mining specific part, to provide holistic solutions for NMG. And we see that as a real competitive advantage versus other OEMs.

What’s your current view on the market moving to “swarms” of smaller trucks with the focus moving away from ultraclass? And what about going cabless? 

DJ: We run a lot of simulations on the tradeoffs between truck size classes. When evaluating larger fleets of smaller trucks as a viable alternative – it is very dependent on how the mine is set up. For a brownfield mine that has traditionally run 400 ton class trucks, putting in swarms of small trucks is probably not going to align with the loading tools in place – the mine hasn’t been designed around smaller trucks. If you are starting from scratch with a greenfield mine and you optimise the mine based on smaller trucks then potentially it could be the lowest cost, most productive solution. But you have to look at it site by site.

BW: That’s right, and it is also highly dependent on the material you want to move – think about the size of the rock – what’s the rock fragmentation like? What is the bench height? What type of rock formation do I have? What is the ration of ore to waste? When you really think about what’s the right size truck – and that’s a question we get all the time – there’s over 40 variables you have to think about. There is a right size truck – but its for that site.

DJ: On cabs, I do see cabless coming in the future. Currently one reason for keeping the cab is to allow the autonomous truck to be driven manually, like around a truck shop. But there are other ways of moving the truck such as with remote devices. And when you think about the weight of the cab and the complexity of providing all the features for the operator environment – if you know the future is going to be all autonomous then eventually you get there with no cabs. It’s just the transition time.

Do you see a future of autonomous mining shovels and does Cat have an active program in this regard? 

DJ: We do have development of teleoperated and autonomous shovels ongoing and its part of our roadmap, but it hasn’t been a priority for our customers. In addition, we look at what advantage does it bring from a productivity perspective. It has potential from a safety perspective – some shovels operate in more challenging conditions. But because automation in other areas drives a much higher return for the customer, we have focused our development on our customer’s priorities.  Take, for example, the autonomous water truck we are doing right now with Rio Tinto at Gudai Darri. Optimising water delivery improves productivity while reducing overwatering. For shovels, our focus has been more around operator assist and getting the semi autonomous advantage from the shovel movement in and out of the face.

Do you see autonomy moving more towards onboard edge computing and AI – where the trucks become more able to react to situations themselves? 

DJ: We already have a significant amount of computing power on the truck and continue to make updates to our existing platform. We are also making investments in additional platforms for autonomy. It is a combination of bringing more value onto the machine but also considering cost. We want to hit the sweet spot of faster computing, plus have more peer-to-peer machine interaction as well.

Komatsu addresses room and pillar mining challenges with new innovations at MINExpo

To demonstrate its continued support of, and collaboration with, soft-rock operations, Komatsu has introduced new machine features and a next-generation conveyor chain to help mines maximise uptime and achieve productivity goals.

These offerings debuting at MINExpo 2021 include the 12HM46 continuous miner with the new Titan Cutter Head, the BH-18A battery hauler with new lithium-ion battery technology and the NXT Single Sprocket Conveyor Chain – all designed to help operators make progress with automation and solve common issues experienced by today’s mining companies, the company says.

“Productive room and pillar mining comes down to having the machines and parts that can help soft-rock mining operations extract and haul more coal and industrial minerals in less time,” Jim Haughey, Product Director, says. “With these new features and a next-generation conveyor chain design, operators have tools that can help them hit their productivity targets while making inroads into automation.”

Engineered for the rigors and unique challenges of underground room and pillar mining, these three offerings provide distinct advantages, Komatsu says:

  • The 12HM46 continuous miner with Titan Cutter Head is Komatsu’s largest and most powerful drum-style continuous miner with 50% more cutting power and 70% more productivity potential than the company’s other continuous miners. The machine is engineered specifically for industrial mineral applications, like trona, gypsum, potash and salt;
  • The BH-18A battery hauler with new lithium-ion battery technology is designed to deliver improvements in productivity, sustainability and cost compared with traditional lead-acid battery technology. Lithium-ion batteries can power a hauler up to 136,000 ft (41,453 m) per charge versus 115,000 ft for lead-acid batteries, and charge in less than 2.5 hours; and
  • The NXT Single Sprocket Conveyor Chain features a new patented chain link with dirt relief technology that is 46% stronger than previous models for improved reliability. Dual scraping flights are designed to solve issues that could lead to premature chain failure, and other innovations improve the time necessary to change flights and connecting links. This part is designed for both continuous miners and shuttle cars.

Brian Thompson, Vice President, Mining and Crushing Systems, says: “These three offerings represent our ongoing commitment to collaborating with our valued customers to help them solve today’s room and pillar mining challenges, hit coal and industrial mineral extraction and haulage targets and further their automation efforts. They also reflect our dedication to detail by bringing engineering innovations to something as simple, yet critical, as a conveyor chain.”

Dana debuts new Spicer Electrified e-Powershift transmission at MINExpo 2021

Dana Inc has debuted the new Spicer Electrified™ e-Powershift transmission, a modular and flexible two-speed solution that offers power take-off (PTO) functionality for electrified heavy-duty mining vehicles, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas.

Delivering high efficiency and superior performance in a compact package that simplifies the mining industry’s transition to electrification, the dual-motor version of the e-Powershift transmission supports continuous power outputs up to 240 kW, while the single-motor configuration is engineered for 120 kW of continuous output, the company says.

Its flexible, power-dense design makes it ideal for a wide range of applications, including small- to medium-sized loaders and trucks used in underground mining, as well as construction wheel loaders, large lift trucks and terminal tractors, the company says. The highly efficient dual-motor configuration shown at MINExpo delivers the optimal tractive effort in every duty cycle without torque interruption, according to Dana.

The Spicer Electrified e-Powershift transmission will be available for prototype testing by OEMs by the end of this year.

“For more than half a century, Dana has been a trusted top-tier supplier of drive systems that deliver superior performance for mining vehicles,”  Jeroen Decleer, Senior Vice President, Off-Highway Drive and Motion Systems for Dana Incorporated, says. “The new e-Powershift transmission showcases how we are leveraging our comprehensive portfolio of electrification technologies to provide mining OEMs with complete solutions that can help accelerate their journeys to e-Mobility.”

The launch of the Spicer Electrified e-Powershift transmission demonstrates how Dana is rapidly and effectively developing market-ready solutions that can help streamline and accelerate the mining industry’s transition to electrification, it says.

It is equipped with Dana TM4 high-voltage motors from 350 to 800 v to improve efficiency, reduce total package size and provide redundancy as needed. The motors have delivered field-proven performance and durability for hundreds of thousands of hours in underground mining and other heavy-duty applications, according to the company.

The e-Powershift transmission offers highly efficient shifting through a patented wet clutch and synchroniser, and it can be configured with four-wheel-drive disconnect and a PTO that eliminates the need for an additional motor and inverter, Dana explained.

The system is an efficient turnkey solution, with drivetrain integration simplified through the use of a single APC transmission control unit. It uses proprietary software engineered to optimise machine operation through numerous drive and PTO modes, including hill-hold and functional safety readiness.

The e-Powershift transmission is being shown as part of a complete system that includes heavy-duty Spicer® axles engineered to withstand the most severe mining environments while offering superior braking power for reliability under full load conditions on all operating grades. The system also includes Spicer driveshafts designed for longer life, minimal maintenance and lower operating costs.

The company also announced upgrades to its line of Brevini™ helical and bevel helical gearboxes used in mining and bulk material handling applications, with the new solutions available starting in early 2022.

The enhancements include three new monoblock models to more precisely address torque demands, as well as series-wide design enhancements that improve power density, the company says.

Offering nominal output torques up to 1,000 kNm, Brevini helical and bevel helical gearboxes provide the modularity and flexibility needed to optimise the performance of conveyors, stacker reclaimers, wagon tipplers, and ship loading and unloading equipment used in mining and bulk material handling, it says.

Sandvik, Exyn combine capabilities in new autonomous mine inspection concept

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Exyn Technologies have furthered their strategic partnership looking at new horizons of mine autonomy with the introduction of the Sandvik Exyn inspection concept.

An autonomous mapping solution that can co-operate with autonomous machines without stopping production, according to Jussi Puura, Research and Technology Development, Digitalization Lead at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, the pair launched the concept at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

Back in March, the companies expanded the strategic partnership they initially signed in 2020, looking to integrate drone-based data processed using Exyn’s on-board 3D mapping technology with Sandvik’s OptiMine® Mine Visualizer solution for analysis and optimisation of underground mining production and processes.

The integration, the pair said, allows mining customers to benefit from comprehensive underground aerial 3D mapping with visualisation that increases overall transparency of mining operations – including for GPS-denied, hard-to-reach, or hazardous areas, or locations that would be time-consuming to survey and inspect using conventional methods.

Exyn and Sandvik deployed this integrated solution at gold exploration and development company Rupert Resources’ Pahtavaara project in Finland, using the ExynAero drone to autonomously create a 3D point cloud of an underground stope. This 3D data was then uploaded to Sandvik’s OptiMine Mine Visualizer and georeferenced to the CAD mine model for further analysis and visualisation.

The companies said back then that it planned to further develop the partnership to integrate more hardware and software systems, and they have now done just that, premiering the new concept at this week’s MINExpo.

The concept works by an operator indicating the area they want surveyed on the OptiMine 3D visual screens, and then ordering that survey. The ground-based machine then starts the assigned mission at a time that is convenient and does not cause any production interruptions.

After deployment and when the wheeled inspection vehicle cannot drive any further, the on-board autonomous UAV is deployed to complete the survey of the area of interest.

When the survey mission is complete, the UAV lands on the ground-based robot and both return to the charging station to await the next mission. The data from both vehicles is then automatically uploaded to the Sandvik Data Management Server, part of the OptiMine suite.

The server processes all data automatically and georeferences it to existing data in the server, using the survey team’s data as ‘anchors’ and ‘ground rules’ for the new data. The data is automatically merged into an updated model of the mine.

In addition to merging and ‘cleaning’ the data, the system can be set up to run automated analysis on the data. For example, automatic reports on change detection, shrinkage detection, road condition, etc can be run after every survey.

The solution results in better planning, increased safety and less production stops, according to the companies.

Komatsu’s MC51 hard-rock cutting tech up and running at Vale’s Garson mine

Vale and Komatsu’s mechanical rock excavation (MRE) collaboration has moved into another gear, with the Komatsu MC51 machine featuring DynaCut mechanical cutting technology now operating underground at Vale’s Garson nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada, Vale’s Dino Otranto confirmed at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

Speaking at the ‘Creating value together: Special one-time presentation with Vale’ event on Monday, Otranto, Chief Operating Officer of North Atlantic Operations and Asian Refineries for Vale, said the machine was in operation, 2.5 km underground at Garson after recently being assembled.

The machine is scheduled to carry out a 1,400 m initial test run at the mine, according to Komatsu, with the exercise seen as a way to bring the technology to market quicker for Vale and other customers, Rudie Boshoff, Director of Hard Rock Cutting systems at Komatsu, said during the presentation.

Andy Charsley, a Principal Mining Engineer at Vale, says this trial is the largest hard-rock cutting trial Vale has ever committed to.

Through more than 10 years of research and development, Komatsu says it has determined how to break rock continuously and precisely through a fully electric system that outputs zero emissions. By automating and controlling processes so the machine can be operated remotely via line of site, Komatsu customers have the opportunity to move their operators further from the cutting face and from harm’s way leveraging DynaCut technology and the MC51 machine. DynaCut technology, which has previously been tested at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia underground mine in Australia, is billed as offering cutting accuracy of within 50 mm to plan.

Otranto says the partnership with Komatsu is the first step to “really prove and understand the technology, while meeting our high standards for safety”.

Last year, Charsley and colleague Luke Mahoney spoke to IM about this partnership, which is part of the mechanical cutting demonstration within the CMIC (Canada Mining Innovation Council) Continuous Underground Mining project.

Vale said back then that the trial planned to demonstrate the ability to cut rock in excess of 250 MPa; cut at a commercial rate of more than 3.5 m/shift; quantify the cost per metre of operation and start to look at the potential comparison with conventional drill and blast development; assess the health, safety and environmental suitability of the MRE process; and gain insight into the potential of an optimised MRE process.

Charsley says the integration of the MC51 with bolters, trucks, scoops and other equipment at the operating mine will be included within the company’s assessment of the technology.

Since announcing this collaboration, the South Australian Government has awarded a A$2 million grant to Hillgrove Resources to trial the new underground mining technology being progressed by Komatsu.

Sandvik launches new rock tools, including Tundo RH650 DTH hammer, at MINExpo

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is introducing a new down-the-hole (DTH) hammer, among many new innovations, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, this week.

The company says it is launching several new rock tools at MINExpo, with its new Tundo™ RH650 DTH hammer one of the highlights. This DTH hammer can, the company says, reduce fuel consumption by up to 15% while increasing penetration rates by up to 20%.

Sandvik is also introducing its heavy duty top hammer drill bits, the new Autobit and its Charger™ RR450 rotary drill bit, which can achieve up to a 90% increase in bit life compared with other premium sealed bearing bits, according to the company.

The company Sandvik will also display the recently launched Sandvik LT90 top hammer tool – part of the Top Hammer XL system – and launch the new Sandvik RD212 and Sandvik RD315 rock drills at the show.

Sandvik is also introducing its Remote Monitoring Service at MINExpo, a robust solution that analyses underground mining equipment data to identify abnormalities and develop predictive solutions to increase uptime and reduce operating costs, it says.

On the surface drilling side, Sandvik is showcasing the Sandvik DR410i rotary blasthole drill rig, Leopard™ DI650i DTH drill rig and Pantera™ DP1600i top hammer drill rig, part of the Top Hammer XL system. Booth visitors will also learn more about AutoMine® Surface Drilling and the system’s new AutoCycle functionality that enables a fully autonomous drilling cycle.

Battery-driven equipment to enable emission-free underground mining and help customers improve sustainability and profitability is also on show at the Sandvik booth.

The company has unveiled the Sandvik TH550B, its latest 50 t battery-electric truck, and plans to virtually introduce the Toro™ LH514BE, an AutoMine-compatible cable-electric loader, boosted with cutting-edge battery technology.

The company is also showcasing the Sandvik LH518B – the industry’s largest battery-electric loader – and launching the Sandvik DS412iE, its first battery-powered rock bolter that rounds out the company’s first full zero-emissions offering for all underground drilling applications.

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.