Tag Archives: raiseboring

Rhino raiseborer set for work in Botswana, South Africa

Having been introduced to the southern African market only a year ago, two Rhino 100 ‘plug-and-drill’ raiseborers from Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions are already destined for local mining sites.

One unit will soon be at work in Botswana, while the second will be delivered to a large South Africa mine later this year, according to Saltiel Pule, Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions’ Business Line Manager for Underground Drilling in southern Africa.

“This machine has raised considerable interest in our market, and we fully expect to see five units at work in our region by the end of 2022,” Pule says.

The primary application of the Rhino 100 is for drilling of production slots, but it also makes a valuable contribution in a range of other applications – from ventilation raises and escape routes to ore passes and connections between tunnels, the company said.

“Using conventional drill and blast methods, these vertical or inclined holes can take mines three to six months to complete,” Pule says. “With the Rhino 100, we are talking about durations of less than a week.”

Drilled as relief holes in sub-level open stoping, slot raises provide the necessary void space for blasting, allowing the expansion of blasted rock into the void to improve fragmentation.

Dean Zharare, Sales Engineer for Underground Drilling at Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions, says the conventional blasting of slot raises often creates a bottleneck for mines.

“We have encountered situations where mine personnel have to return two or three times to a slot raise before it is ready, due to misfires, for instance,” Zharare said. “This creates a bottleneck in the mining process, reducing the monthly metres achieved.”

The mobility and drilling speed of the Rhino 100 can transform this scenario, he says, with an expectation that monthly metres drilled could improve by 65%. There is even the possibility that one of the units in South Africa will be operated remotely with the operator based on surface while it drills underground stopes.

Drilling holes of 750 mm in diameter, the Rhino 100 boasts penetration rates of about 2 m/h, more than double the rate of conventional methods, Sandvik claims. As important as the speed, Zharare says, is the reliability of the result.

“These larger holes make the blast much more reliable, avoiding any time consuming and dangerous redrilling in the event of a block ‘freezing’ after an unsuccessful blast,” he says.

Underpinning the machine’s mobility is its ability to carry its own components, including rods, cables, hydraulics and the raiseboring head. It is pulled by a specially adapted double-axle John Deere tractor. To optimise the set-up time – which can take as little as 10 minutes – it has outriggers for stability rather than needing a concrete pad to be poured. No roof bolting is required either, as an inclinometer gives the operator the necessary coordinates for a surveyor to confirm before drilling operations begin.

Since the Rhino 100 was launched 2017, it has achieved a strong global footprint, with over 20 units operating worldwide. Australia has seen particularly strong take-up, with one contractor already ordering four machines. Underground expansions at almost a dozen operations around southern Africa present exciting opportunities for the future of the Rhino 100 in this region, Zharare says.

The Rhino is manufactured by TRB-Raise Borers in Finland but is equipped with Sandvik tools and is distributed by Sandvik.

Master Drilling continues diversification plan in uncertain market

Master Drilling Group continued to add to its client and service base over the course of 2020, with bright spots reported in exploration drilling and the West Africa gold sector.

Its 2020 financials were hit by COVID-19, with revenue dropping 17% year-on-year to $123.1 million and operating profit declining to $12.3 million, from $24.1 million in 2019.

Danie Pretorius, CEO of Master Drilling, said: “Master Drilling’s overall performance for the year was weighed down by the weak global economic growth environment entering 2020, which was compounded by the material impact of COVID-19, across the 23 countries in which we operate, from a human, financial and operational perspective.

“Although the group experienced a significant decline in revenue in the South American operations, primarily due to government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, this was offset by regions such as India, Africa and Scandinavia which remained operational and received various stimulus packages.”

Despite a decrease in revenue, the company’s net cash generation increased 72.7% to $25.5 million as it contained capital expenditure by balancing maintenance with emerging opportunities.

In the second half of the year, Master Drilling was awarded new exploration projects and mobilised an additional fleet to service existing clients, with a considerable turnaround in drilling and exploration activity becoming more apparent and creating a healthy pipeline, it said.

Around a year ago, Master Drilling fulfilled the conditions to acquire Geoserve Exploration Drilling, increasing the South Africa-based company’s ability to offer exploration drilling, reverse circulation drilling, geotechnical investigations and grade control drilling services.

Its commitment to Africa saw the continent become the largest contributor to the group in terms of revenue and profits over the course of the year. Aggressive expansion into West Africa continued as part of the group’s diversification strategy, with a specific focus on gold, which has seen a surge in demand since 2019.

Master Drilling also continued to grow its presence in new markets, including Australia, Russia and Central Asia. It secured new contracts with a focus on raiseboring and mechanised mining services, too.

As at December 31, 2020, Master Drilling’s sales pipeline totalled $539.9 million with a stable order book of $212.8 million (2019: $142.1 million).

“In the short to medium term, the sales pipeline is expected to normalise and increase with further tactical acquisitions and joint ventures supporting performance,” it said. “Opportunities to diversify outside of the traditional drilling business into areas such as artificial intelligence will also continue.”

Although capital has been tightly managed in response to the uncertain environment, Master Drilling says technological innovation remains a key priority for the company.

Aligned to this, Master Drilling announced a 40% investment in AVA Solutions, a specialist in data-driven mining fleet management solutions, this month.

Commenting on the investment, Pretorius said: “Our recent investment in AVA is aligned with our strategy to diversify our services and invest in businesses that help us meet our clients’ demand for increased mechanisation and digitisation. Other opportunities with low capital requirements and short return cycles are currently under review.”

He concluded on the annual results: “Although the shape of recovery remains uncertain, we have seen a turnaround in the past six months across the commodities and regions that we are already exposed to. Having made significant investments in our fleet, technology and geographical diversification over the past couple of years, we are now positioned to capitalise on the predicted commodities bull run without requiring additional capital investment.”

PYBAR takes the load off raisebore reamer removal underground

PYBAR, an equipment manufacturer and the team at Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia have developed a safe work methodology to remove large diameter raisebore reamers in an underground environment.

As the contractor says, the removal of raisebore reamers has traditionally been a hazardous, complex, costly and time-consuming process. Because of this, PYBAR saw a need to develop a safe work methodology to remove large diameter reamers in an underground environment.

Working with Carrapateena Mine and an equipment manufacturer, the SL100 Reamer Lifting Gantry system was developed.

The SL100 unit, based on the Enerpac SL100 lift and shift technology, is a track-mounted gantry system with hydraulic lifting units capable of lifting up to 80 t. The unit is operated remotely, removing employees from the shaft area during reamer lifts. When the reamer is lifted out of the shaft, the reamer is trammed away from the open shaft, which is then covered with a hole cover to create a safe working area.

PYBAR’s Raise Bore and Shaft Lining Manager, Phillip Viljoen, said: “PYBAR’s underground raisebore reamer removal system is a safety win for the raisebore industry, and we would be happy to share the methodology with anyone interested in a safer and more efficient way of removing large diameter reamers in an underground environment.”

The PYBAR underground reamer lifting gantry methodology has now been accepted as industry best practice, according to PYBAR, and sets the standard for removing large diameter reamers safely in an underground environment.

RUC Mining, Barminco keep Panoramic’s Savannah nickel restart plan on track

Panoramic Resources says underground development at the Savannah nickel project in Western Australia is moving ahead as planned, with both its raisebore contractor and contract miner striving towards the ASX-listed company’s first half 2021 restart goal.

In a progress update, the company said mining contractor, Barminco, had completed the 468 m horizontal underground development drive, connecting with the vertical ventilation shaft to complete Fresh Air Raise (FAR #3) development at Savannah North, in late September.

Since then, specialist raiseboring contractor, RUC Mining, has been setting up the raisebore rig on the surface and installing the reamer head at the 1675 RL, which was developed to intersect into the existing FAR #3 raise.

“This complicated and critical task was completed safely and efficiently as planned,” Panoramic said on October 19. “RUC is tasked with the FAR #3 back-reaming, which commenced over the weekend and expected to be completed in the March 2021 quarter.”

A total of 354 m will be back reamed at a diameter of 3.85 m, according to the company. This is planned to provide sufficient ventilation to support future full-scale mining operations from Savannah North in line with the Mine Plan released in late July.

Managing Director and CEO, Victor Rajasooriar, said: “We now have a firm foundation to recommence underground pre-production development next month, to complete ventilation works for Savannah North and complete areas of capital development to lay further groundwork for a potential restart of operations. This work will be concluded towards the end of the March quarter 2021 and we expect to be in a position where the project is capable of being restarted in the first half of 2021.”

The Savannah Mine Plan outlined a mine life of around 13 years, with the majority of ore sourced from the Savannah North orebody. Average annual production for years 1-12 would be 8,810 t of nickel, 4, 579 t of copper and 659 t of cobalt in concentrate, with all-in costs for these years of $5.27/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits.

Redpath hits Americas raiseboring pilot hole record in Quebec

Redpath Mining says its raiseboring division has recently completed a record 875.1 m pilot hole at an underground mining operation in Quebec, Canada.

The record-breaking hole, carried out with the Redbore 90EX raise drill, was completed well ahead of schedule and broke through with an accuracy of 0.03% (260 mm) over the length of the hole, Redpath said.

“With this first phase of the raise complete, Redpath Raiseboring strengthens its own record for longest pilot hole ever completed in the Americas,” the company said, explaining the previous record of 845 m, also held by Redpath Raiseboring, stood for over a decade.

Once complete, this 875.1 m raise will be the largest, by volume, raisebore ever excavated in the Americas, and third largest ever globally, according to the company.

“As with all records, this fresh America’s accomplishment is meant to be broken,” Redpath said. “Redpath Raiseboring is nearing completion of a 1,009 m pilot hole slated for breakthrough toward the end of September, also in Canada.”

Alamos Gold to hit new highs after reaching new depth at Young-Davidson

Alamos Gold says it has completed the lower mine expansion at Young-Davidson, in Ontario, Canada, with the successful commissioning of the Northgate shaft.

The lower mine expansion project was designed to boost underground production at Young-Davidson from 6,000 t/d to 8,000 t/d as the existing mid-mine infrastructure was replaced with the new lower mine infrastructure.

The project involved Cementation using large diameter raiseboring technology to establish the new shaft at Young-Davidson as part of an engineer, procure and construct contract.

Alamos Gold says the newly constructed lower mine infrastructure is larger, highly automated and more productive, with the transition expected to drive gold production higher and costs lower starting in the second half of 2020.

John A McCluskey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alamos Gold, said: “This marks a significant milestone for Young-Davidson and turning point for Alamos as we transition from a reinvestment phase to a period of strong free cash flow growth.

“I would like to congratulate the entire team at Young-Davidson for this historic achievement, which will unlock the full potential of the operation. With a 13-year mineral reserve life, large resource base, and significant exploration potential, Young-Davidson is well positioned to deliver solid free cash flow over the long term.”

In addition to the Northgate shaft (pictured), the underground crusher and conveyor system have also been successfully commissioned, Alamos Gold said. Mining rates are expected to ramp up through the second half of the year to 7,500 t/d by the end of 2020.

The mine produced 188,000 oz of gold in 2019 at mine site all-in sustaining costs of $1,047/oz, Alamos said.

Sandvik out to capture southern Africa market share with new Rhino 100 raiseborer

Having helped Raising Australia slash slot-raise production times, improve productivity for its customers and significantly increase its own revenue, Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s highly mobile Rhino 100 ‘plug-and-drill’ raiseborer is ready to take southern Africa’s mining sector by storm, the mining OEM says.

The Rhino raiseborer, manufactured by TRB-Raise Borers in Finland but equipped with Sandvik tools and distributed by Sandvik, was developed in response to customer requests for a different approach to the raise drilling and blasting sequence, according to Sandvik, which says the Rhino 100 is a leap forward in mobility and drilling speed.

According to Saltiel Pule, Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s Business Line Manager for Underground Drilling in southern Africa, the key to the Rhino 100’s mobility is being self-sufficient.

“This unit carries all its own components, from rods and cables to hydraulics and the raiseboring head,” Pule said. “Pulled by a specially adapted double-axle John Deere tractor, no other transportation equipment is needed to move the rig.”

Together with fast set-up times and high drilling productivity, the Rhino 100 is an integrated solution that allows mines to meet ambitious drilling targets, according to the company.

“Outriggers stabilise the machine so there is no requirement for a concrete pad before setting up,” he said. “This means that the machine can be set up in as little as 10 minutes, compared with the few days it takes to cast and cure a concrete pad before use.”

He adds that no roof bolting is required either, as the Rhino 100 is equipped with an inclinometer that provides the operator with the necessary x and y coordinates, which the surveyor can confirm before drilling starts.

The Rhino 100’s productivity is further enhanced by its high drilling speed; with penetration rates of about 2 m/h, it can progress drilling at more than double the rate of conventional methods, Sandvik says.

“The rod-handling arm enhances health and safety underground, especially by preventing back and finger injuries,” Pule says. “By carefully manipulating and changing rods without them needing to be placed on the ground, the automated arm also avoids dust and rock chips getting into the threads. This helps maintain the workflow and keep the whole process running efficiently.”

The 52-t Rhino 100 – at 3.1 m wide and 3.4 m high – has been designed to fit comfortably into standard mine haulage, with easy mobility from one tunnel or stope to the next, the company said.

Judging by the number of enquiries from major mining players, Pule says the unit looks to have a promising future in southern Africa’s mining sector.

Record hole in progress at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde: Master Drilling

Master Drilling says it is in the process of drilling a world record hole at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde platinum group metals mine, in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa.

The contractor has its flagship RD8-1500 raisebore rig on site at Zondereinde and is busy drilling the 4.8 m, 1,420 m deep hole at the operation, it said today.

Master Drilling said: “The project doesn’t just beat all previous drilling benchmarks, but also has very stringent accuracy requirement that requires the latest in Measurement While Drilling technology.”

While Master Drilling did not add any additional details in the news post, Northam Platinum said in its full-year results presentation for the year ending June 30, 2019, that planning and preparation for raiseboring the No.3 shaft at the Western Extension project at Zondereinde was in progress. It added, in a presentation last month, that pilot drilling for the raisebore was at 760 m.

Northam is targeting steady state platinum group metal production of 50,000 oz/y from the Western Extension, which it hopes to achieve in its 2025 financial year.

Master Drilling’s RD8 rig has been used at various mine sites across South Africa and is capable of drilling 8.5 m in diameter and over 1,500 m deep, the company said.

Rhino raiseborer has Raising Australia reaming ahead, Sandvik says

The arrival of the Rhino 100 mobile raiseborer has seen Raising Australia, part of the Byrnecut Group, slash slot-raise production times, improve productivity for its customers and significantly increase its own revenue, according to Sandvik.

‘Slot raises’ play a crucial role in the development of many underground mines in Australia, Sandvik says. Created by raiseboring machines, these wide-diameter holes provide void spaces in the stope into which blasted ore can expand, improving fragmentation.

The problem is traditional raiseboring machines used to drill slot raises are cumbersome to transport and have high demands for labour and time, according to Sandvik. “It can take two to three days of preparation before drilling begins, resulting in potential bottleneck and delays in production.”

In 2014, a team from Raising Australia travelled to Finland to inspect the Rhino 100, developed by TRB-Raise Borers and distributed by Sandvik. Mounted on rubber tyres, the Rhino 100 could travel under its own power within a mine, required just one operator, and could begin boring within 45 minutes of arrival on site, Sandvik said.

Raising Australia initially went down the route of developing and trialling its own mobile raiseborer, but, in 2016, General Manager, Mark Hanigan, inspected the latest generation Rhino 100 and realised it was what the company needed, Sandvik said. After working with TRB to tweak the borer to allow for additional drilling angles, Raising Australia took delivery of its first Rhino in September 2017.

“That first Rhino went straight to [Saracen’s] Carosue Dam Operation, near Kalgoorlie, and it’s been there ever since,” Hanigan says. “The previous contractors were drilling 150 m/mth, and we have achieved up to 400-m-plus a month. Between October 2017 and December 2019, we drilled just under 5,000 m, so we’ve doubled their output.”

After the initial success, Raising Australia ordered another two Rhino 100s. The first arrived in August 2018 and was sent to Northern Star’s Jundee gold mine, in Wiluna, Western Australia. The next was delivered in October 2018 and has been a campaign machine, travelling to a range of customer sites. The company has since ordered a fourth and fifth machine, which are being delivered in 2020 and are expected to be immediately put to work on major mining projects, according to Sandvik.

One of these rigs was recently commissioned on a 36 m long hole at Gold Fields’ Invincible operation.

Hanigan says the impact of the Rhino 100 on Raising Australia’s business has been significant. “We have significantly increased our revenues since 2017 when we took delivery of the first Rhino, and we’re hoping the next two Rhinos will help us grow again,” he says.

“The benefits for our customers are also huge. It used to be drilling the slot rises that would hold up the development process. Now, they can bring the stope online when they want and not have to wait for the hole to be drilled.”

In fact, so fast is the process with the Rhino 100, one of the biggest challenges for Raising Australia has been convincing clients that it will live up to its promises, Hanigan says.

“Every time we get a new client, we will tell them how it works and what it delivers, and they will be sceptical. That’s until they actually see it and their minds are blown,” he said.

Jarko Salo, Managing Director for TRB-Raise Borers, says the positive experience of Raising Australia is common among Rhino 100 customers across the globe. In one case, a Brazil miner reported productivity gains of up more than 90% due to more efficient working techniques enabled by the raiseborer.

Salo attributes the success of the rig to the ground-up approach taken during development. The needs of underground miners inspired the creation of the first mobile raiseborer and TRB has continued to be responsive to feedback.

“Right from the beginning here in Finland we have listened very carefully to our customers and produced designs that fit their needs,” he says.

Mark Hanigan says the key advantages for Raising Australia are the time and labour savings the Rhino offers over conventional raiseborers. While it takes a team of two people between two and three days to prepare a traditional raiseborer for duty, a single operator can tram the Rhino into the mine and be drilling within a matter of minutes. As well as slot raises, the Rhino 100 can be used to drill ventilation shafts, drainage shafts, escapeway shafts, ore passes and back fills, according to Sandvik.

Another key advantage of the Rhino 100 is safety. With older-style raiseborers, the operator is generally in the open less than 5 m from the hole being drilled and must drill deep into the rock before erecting a muck chute, according to Sandvik.

“With the Rhino 100, the muck chute opens and closes,” Hanigan says. “You open it up, push through the rod, and when you’re ready to start drilling you can close the chute up. It covers the hole, stopping the dirt cuttings flying out and hitting the operator. The Rhino 100 also removes the exposure of the operator to the risk of flying debris as you’re 6-7 m away from the work area and operate from within a cab.”

Raising Australia has recently begun taking advantage of the plug-‘n’-drill feature of its Rhino rigs, according to Sandvik. This allows for the quick change of drilling modules to permit down-reaming or conventional raiseboring. The module attaches to the borer, allowing for drilling even when access to the lower level in not possible, according to Sandvik.

“We just finished the first hole with that module last week and it was magic,” Hanigan said recently. “It drilled a 1.1 m diameter escape way in one third of the time of a normal raised drill.”

Salo says he has been pleased to witness Raising Australia’s journey with the Rhino 100: “Raising Australia and Byrnecut showed great vision in understanding the competitive advantages that mobile raiseboring provides early on,” he says.

Master Drilling lays groundwork for record breaking hole

Master Drilling is set to break a drilling world record having recently commenced collaring for a 1,420 m pilot hole at a South Africa platinum mine.

The 4.6 m diameter hole is being sunk as part of an expansion project at the mine. It will help lead to the development of a rock hoisting shaft equipped with steelwork, according to Master Drilling.

Master Drilling said it was using its RD8 raisebore rig for the project. This rig, which has been operational since 2015 and used at various mine sites across South Africa, is capable of drilling 8.5 m in diameter and over 1,500 m deep, the company added.

The current construction schedule at the mine indicates the holing of the pilot during the first week of May 2020, some eight months from the collaring date.

The previous longest pilot drilled to date was 1,180 m, according to the company.