Tag Archives: Pit Viper

Epiroc charged up by automation, digitalisation and battery equipment wins

Epiroc’s second ever Capital Markets Day, in Stockholm, Sweden, was an enlightening affair, with the original equipment manufacturer backing up its credentials as a leader in the mine automation, digitalisation and electrification space.

Speakers including Per Lindberg, President and CEO; Helena Hedblom, Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure; Sami Niiranen, President Underground Rock Excavation; and Jose Sanchez, President Drilling Solutions, with all of them reeling off a number of statistics worth highlighting.

For example, the company said around 60% of Epiroc equipment is now being delivered with its rig control system (RCS), a system that on Pit Viper blasthole drills is the next “evolutionary step toward fully autonomous mining”, the company recently said.

At the same time as this, 3,400 of its machines have been delivered with “connectivity”, Lindberg said, a transition that is allowing customers to monitor, in real time, elements of a machine’s performance. As recently as the company’s June quarter results release, Lindberg said more than 2,500 machines were ‘connected’.

When it came to automation underground, Epiroc said it had 43 projects on its books, with 600 drill rigs equipped for complete automation of the drilling process; the latter up from the more than 550 Lindberg quoted in the June quarter results.

Epiroc has also seen a 30% increase in utilisation of connected Simba production drills globally, according to Lindberg.

On surface, meanwhile, Epiroc was involved with autonomous and teleremote drilling in 16 countries on five continents, he said.

Among these automation projects were the fully autonomous electric drill at Boliden’s Aitik copper mine, in Sweden, an autonomous SmartROC D65 at Newmont Goldcorp’s Hollinger mine, in Canada, and autonomous Pit Vipers at the leading gold miner’s Penasquito mine, in Mexico.

A map shown by Sanchez also included first remote/teleremote operations in Morocco, Ukraine (see Ferrexpo Yeristovo story), Chile and Papua New Guinea. There was also mention of first autonomous solutions in South Africa (along with a first multipass autonomous operation) and a first autonomous drill in operation in Australia.

And, of course, the company provided an update on its battery-electric solutions, which Epiroc believes will improve health and safety, reduce emissions, lower total cost of operation and improve productivity for its customers.

Lindberg said the company had accumulated 100,000 hours of battery-electric machinery operation to date and, so far, customers had achieved a more than 70% reduction in energy consumption – mainly through reduced ventilation needs.

On the company’s recently-launched Minetruck MT42 Battery, specifically, Niiranen said Epiroc had observed 10% increased productivity through faster ramp cycle time at operations where the machine was being trialled/operating. One of these machines is currently being trialled at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä gold mine, in Finland, as part of the EU-funded Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems project (a project Epiroc is coordinator of).

Boliden trials first automated electric drill at Aitik copper mine

Boliden says it has completed a world first with the trial of an autonomous electric Epiroc 351 Pit Viper drill at its Aitik copper mine in Sweden.

The trial ran through the month of March and was part of a three-year staged approach to autonomous drilling in Aitik that started in April 2017, Boliden said. The first part entailed tele-remote drilling, with the results from that setting the stage for stage two; a trial of single line autonomous drilling. “The third stage will evaluate the extent to which a whole pattern can be drilled with an electric autonomous drill,” Boliden said.

The drill, an Epiroc Pit Viper 351, is currently running successfully and achieving 30% increase in productivity compared with the manned equipment (190 m/d), according to Boliden. With the success of the project and positive feedback from the operators, a trial of autonomous drilling on two single passes (as opposed to multi-pass drilling) was expected to be performed shortly. There will also be a test performed with the soon to be commissioned LTE network in Aitik.

The KPIs were to be reviewed at a steering group meeting on May 7 when a decision was expected on whether to approve the investment to upgrade the remaining fleet, which could start as early as October. It is not yet known what the results were.

Shane Leighton, Senior Engineer Technology/Mine Automation at Boliden, said the trial represented a world first using an autonomous electric Pit Viper drill.

“There are a quite a few mines in the world running diesel-powered automated drills; this is the first automated electric 351 Pit Vipers. What we have learned from the trial in Aitik will support an upgrade to the 4 x 271 Pit Viper fleet in Kevitsa to an automated fleet that is scheduled to start in 2020,” Leighton said.

The trial must achieve a number of key performance indicators covering three different areas – safety, production and arctic weather conditions – to move onto a full investment. Currently, only single line drilling uses autonomous mode, the company said.

“Since we have never used this type of technology before, we wanted to be 100% certain that we could be successful before deciding to upgrade our entire fleet of Pit Vipers. The trial addresses that,” Leighton explained.

With regard to the safety, the same call-up procedures will apply when approaching the autonomous drill as for a manned drill. In addition, overview cameras mounted at various locations around the pit will allow the operator to gain a full overview of what is happening around the drill with four cameras located on the drills, Boliden said. A laser-based system for obstacle detection and a proximity detection solution are also new features designed to detect personnel; these will require staff to wear a tag that vibrates when entering the drill pattern.

The project team includes Boliden Project Manager Peter Palo, Niklas Johansson, representing the drillers, Shane Leighton from Technology, and Fredrik Lindstrom, Product Manager for Automation at Epiroc, Boliden’s supplier for the drills and technology. The project was partially funded by Boliden’s Mine Automation department.

Epiroc provides the next ‘evolutionary step toward fully autonomous mining’

Epiroc has introduced the fifth generation of its Rig Control System (RCS) on Pit Viper blasthole drills as it looks to equip miners with all of the tools to embrace full automation.

RCS 5 for Pit Viper blasthole drill rigs is the next “evolutionary step toward fully autonomous mining”, the company said upon launch of the system earlier this month at the Bauma fair in Munich, Germany.

Features such as Machine-to-Machine Communication, sharing real-time drill plan updates between drills, Auto Tower Angle and Integrated Camera View advanced awareness are some of the early features introduced, Epiroc said.

“Whether operating from a remote location or on-board the drill, the new and improved RCS 5 intuitive main menu creates a user-friendly experience that ultimately increases productivity. This new design allows the operator to focus on the task-at-hand and switch seamlessly between screens in a well-organised and dynamic environment.”

RCS 5’s new Drill Plan Generator function allows for creation and editing of drill plans on-board the rig or from a remote location quickly and easily, according to Epiroc. The new Drilling Data Screen, meanwhile, features real-time depth and penetration rate feedback with histogram for easy in-hole monitoring.

Tyler Berens, Product Line Manager, Automation at Epiroc Drilling Solutions, said: “We’re excited to continue our automation journey, pushing the limits in sustainable productivity. Launching the RCS 5 platform will allow our customers and partners to further advance their operations, saving valuable time and dollars while increasing predictability and safety with either on board or autonomous operations.

“Autonomous operations began with RCS 4, wait until you see where we take it with RCS 5.”

Autonomous drill rigs, Oyu Tolgoi recognised in Epiroc awards

Epiroc’s first annual awards have recognised close customer collaboration in Mongolia and innovative autonomous drill rigs in Australia.

Its “United in Performance Award” honours exceptional customer collaboration, the company said. This inaugural award is presented to Anders Berglund, Bayar Torguud, Batzorig Jamsranjav and Alf Lawrence at Epiroc’s Customer Center in Mongolia, as well as to mining company Oyu Tolgoi LLC.

“Their far-reaching collaboration is boosting productivity and safety at Oyu Tolgoi’s major copper mine,” Epiroc said. “With the mine located remotely in the South Gobi desert, Epiroc has developed strong local service capabilities, yielding customer benefits such as on-time spare parts delivery. The companies are emphasising safety and diversity and they have successfully worked together to recruit more women as equipment operators and service technicians.”

The Inspired by Innovation Award, meanwhile, recognises Epiroc’s most innovative technical development that has had a proven commercial success.

It has been presented, this year, to Tyler Berens, Tim Ledbetter and Dustin Penn at Epiroc’s Drilling Solutions division, Lars Eriksson at the Rocktec division, and to Adrian Boeing at the Customer Center in Australia for developing and deploying autonomous Pit Viper drill rigs for BHP.

A fleet of Pit Vipers is operating remotely at iron ore mines in the Pilbara region, some 1,300 km away from the office building in Perth, Western Australia, where BHP’s operators are located.

“This automation solution brings strong customer benefits, including improved work environment, higher productivity and lower operating costs,” Epiroc said.

Back in December, the first autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 271 drill rig broke ground at BHP’s South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia. This was the first of five autonomous drill rigs to operate at the mine, all of which will be controlled remotely.

Per Lindberg, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said of the awards: “We are proud of our strong teams that continuously focus on making customers more productive and safe while lowering their operating costs. Automation and proactive customer collaboration are two important ways to achieve this.”

The awards will be presented to the winners at the company’s Annual General Meeting on May 9.

Maintenance savings add to autonomous drilling business case, Epiroc says

The application of autonomous drilling solutions at mine sites is resulting in more than just productivity improvements, Matthew Inge, Business Line Manager, Drilling Solutions for Epiroc, said at an SME Annual Conference & Expo press briefing this week.

Inge said the customer feedback the mining OEM had received from the 30 or so automated rigs it had at mine sites, which had drilled close to 7.5 million metres autonomously, had included significant cost savings on maintenance.

“When you talk to most customers, operators and mines they will tell you that autonomous drilling is a productivity resource,” Inge said. “One of the by-products we have seen is reduced cost of maintenance.”

He said some of the company’s biggest customers had estimated “some very large figures” for maintenance cost savings linked to, for example, reduced operator abuse of the rig and improved drill string component life.

Such savings were lowering the total cost of ownership that came with operating these machines, while also strengthening the business case for further automation on mine sites.

During the same press briefing, Epiroc announced its automation-ready Epiroc Pit Viper PV-231 would be available from Spring of this year following an 18-month field test at a Nevada gold mine. Inge said this test was probably one of the most successful trials the surface drilling team had ever experienced.

Anglo American selects Epiroc drilling equipment for Quellaveco copper project

Epiroc has been awarded a “significant” order from Anglo American for its new copper mine in Moquegua, Peru, Quellaveco.

The diversified miner has ordered multiple drill rigs and related equipment to be used at the planned open-pit copper mine as it looks to build an operation with optimal safety, productivity and efficiency, Epiroc said.

The order totals about $44 million, with most of the contracted value booked in the December quarter of 2018 and a smaller portion booked in the current quarter, Epiroc said.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We are proud to once again team up with Anglo American and play a key role in making sure that its new mine in Peru is operated in the most productive, safe and cost-efficient manner possible.”

The order includes Pit Viper 351 and SmartROC D65 drill rigs, BenchREMOTE remote operator stations (pictured), rock drilling tools and HB 10000 hydraulic breakers.

“The machines incorporate state-of-the-art technology features,” Epiroc said, adding that operators are, for example, able to run rigs remotely from a safe distance.

Delivery of the machines will start in early 2020 and continue through 2021, in line with Anglo American’s plan of first copper production during 2022.

Fluor is carrying out the project build at Quellaveco as part of an EPCM contract. With a reserve of 1,300 Mt at 0.58% Cu, Quellaveco is expected to have a 30-year mine life at an average production capacity of 127,500 t/d. This could see the mine produce around 300,000 t/y of copper.

Epiroc autonomous drill gets working on BHP’s South Flank iron ore project

The first autonomous Epiroc Pit Viper 271 drill rig has broken ground at BHP’s South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia, the mining major confirmed.

This is the first of five autonomous drill rigs to operate at the mine, all of which will be controlled remotely from the BHP Integrated Remote Operations Centre in Perth.

BHP, which officially broke ground on the $3.6 billion project in July, is targeting first ore extraction in 2021 and expects to ramp up to 80 Mt/y of output. South Flank will replace production from the existing Yandi mine, which is reaching the end of its economic life. The company carried out the first blast at the project in September.

Epiroc says the Pit Viper 271 is the most productive drill available for rotary tricone and downhole drilling of 171 mm to 270 mm holes with up to 18 m cleanhole single pass capability.

It features a patented cable feed system with automatic tensioning for improved component life and low total cost of operation, with the standard Rig Control System (RCS) providing on board automation capability as part of the standard drill package to help deliver safety and productivity.

“With RCS you can run automation with an operator on board with options like auto drill and auto level, or you can run with the operator off the drill with the optional BenchREMOTE package, allowing one operator to run one or multiple units,” the company says.

“With the RCS system on Pit Vipers you can even achieve your ambition of fully-autonomous drilling with almost no human interaction with the drill.”