Tag Archives: RCS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epiroc makes significant safety stride with RCS Collision Avoidance System interface

Epiroc says it recently launched an offering that aims to support safety in underground mining environments with the RCS based Collision Avoidance System (CAS) interface.

Proximity Detection System (PDS) suppliers, compliant to the ISO 21815-2 Draft (March 2018), are able to interface with Epiroc RCS Materials Handling TMM (Trackless Mobile Machinery) to enable functionality for slowing and stopping, in what the PDS perceives to be a hazardous or unwanted event, Epiroc explains.

The interface allows for third-party systems to communicate with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, in a completely new way, Epiroc claims. This enables a third-party PDS added to the vehicle, when needed, to take interventional control of the machine and prevent accidents.

The CAS Interface, when coupled with a PDS, helps to detect objects in the collision risk area, evaluate the collision risk level and take interventional actions to avoid the potential collision, the company says. The system works on the understanding that all machines and all personnel in the mine are equipped with tags or sensors.

“A CAS installation is intended to assist with operator perception of potential hazards around the machine and prevention of potential incidents where operators cannot respond in time, however the overall responsibility for safe operation of the machine remains with the operator,” Epiroc said.

Daniel Sandström, Global Product Manager-Minetruck, in Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “With safety first and always in mind, I am proud to see the release of the Collision Avoidance System interface. This improves safety underground in a ground-breaking way.”

The CAS interface, which is now available for the complete Epiroc RCS Loader fleet as well as for Minetruck MT42 and soon thereafter for the Minetruck MT65, has been tested by customers, who have been pleased with the performance and functionality, Epiroc said.

Kumeshan Naidu, Integration Manager M&A, at Epiroc’s Technology and Digital division, said: “The Epiroc RCS CAS interface performed as designed, demonstrating high consistency in the cases where the PDS provided reliable input signals.

“The CAS initiative is not a ‘plug and play’ solution and must be tailored, with the participation of all parties to suite a particular site. Change management and risk mitigation strategies on these sites are key when implementing the system.”

Moving forward, Naidu can see further potential: “Solutions like Mobilaris On-Board can augment a mine’s efforts to ensure safety, as well as create a more ‘natural’ state of awareness that underground TMM operators can respond to. With an interface that is more familiar to the operator, who typically drives commercial vehicles (GPS, Waze, Google Maps), their reflex is to naturally avoid a potential unwanted event from occurring. An operator or pedestrian that is equipped with real-time information about their surroundings, through systems like Mobilaris’ MMI, On-board and Pocket Mine, will be better suited to promote a safe working environment; one in which the CAS slow down and stop functionality is a last resort in preventing collision events.”

Epiroc is part of the ISO standard working group where new standards are being developed. It is also participating in the International Council for Mining and Metals (ICMM) initiative for Vehicle Interaction.

Epiroc intends to change the interface from supporting ISO 21815-2 Draft March 2018 to further supporting the final version of ISO 21815-2 within a year of ISO 21815-2 being released.

Capital Drilling solidifies safety commitment with new Epiroc Explorac RC rig

Capital Drilling says it has added a brand new Epiroc Explorac 235 reverse circulation drilling rig to its exploration line up in Mali.

The contractor, which is currently carrying out drilling contracts for the likes of Altus Strategies/Glomin, Hummingbird Resources and Resolute Mining in Mali, said the new rig features fully radio remote-controlled operation and pipe handling.

Epiroc says the Rig Control System, or RCS, with radio remote allows for these tasks to be carried out.

Such facilities keep the crews up to 40 m from the operating rig and remove manual rod handling – “these features further support our company’s strong commitment to keeping our employees safe”, Capital Drilling said.

The on-board 35 bar compressor on the rig also provides capacity to drill to depths up to 450 m, it added.

Epiroc says the rig comes with a maximum torque of 14,000 Nm, a rod length of 6 m and a pull force of 220 kN.

Epiroc in Q2: Australia service business, automation/digitalisation projects stay strong

There were some bright spots in Epiroc’s latest COVID-19 affected quarterly results that bode well for those companies serving the mining industry.

The headline figures were a 23% year-on-year drop in orders received to SEK8.105 billion ($913 million), a 20% fall in revenue to SEK8.458 billion, and a 37% cut in operating profit to SEK1.418 billion.

As President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, explained in the quarterly results: “The COVID-19 pandemic impacted us significantly in the quarter, yet we managed to quickly adapt our way of working, lower our costs, show resilience in our profitability, and deliver a strong cash flow.”

This cash flow – SEK1,963 million – was actually 30% higher than a year ago, which has no doubt been helped by its rationalisation and cost cutting.

Epiroc is a slimmer organisation than it was a year ago. As of June 30, 2020, 13,967 employees and 1,145 consultants/external workforce employees were on its books. This is 702 people lighter than it was at the same time in 2019.

On June 2, Epiroc announced it was giving notice of termination to 425 employees in Sweden in response to lower global demand from mining and infrastructure companies amid the pandemic and to position the company better for the future.

This followed an announcement in April that it was to consolidate the manufacturing of exploration drilling tools in Canada, gradually moving its base from North Bay to Montreal and Sweden over the course of 2020, with 65 employees affected.

Outside of Europe and North America, there were some positives for the company and the wider mining industry to consider.

For the company’s service business, which makes up the majority of its revenues, the orders received decreased 3% organically (year-on-year) to SEK3.719 million. This is a mild contraction compared with the 29% year-on-year organic drop it experienced for equipment orders.

This shows that while companies are not, on the whole, buying new equipment, they are still spending the money to keep their fleets going.

Compared with the previous year, service orders in local currency decreased in all regions, except Asia/Australia, another brightspot.

Helena Hedblom expanded on this trend when speaking to IM: “In general, the activity levels in mining in Australia have kept up very strong in the quarter. That is the only region where there has not been a big drop in the activity level; if we look at the other regions in the world, there are only a few countries with the same development, maybe Chile and Brazil as I said on the call (with analysts and investors).

“Mining in Australia has held up better than the rest of the world.”

With its main workshop and distribution centre for parts in Perth, Western Australia, servicing major gold and iron ore mines in the state, and various other facilities across the country, the company’s deliveries have also not been affected by the border issues related to COVID-19, Hedblom said.

Australia was arguably quickest out of all mining regions to adapt to COVID-19-related operational changes and its government has prioritised keeping the sector open throughout the entire pandemic.

With commodity prices such as gold and copper relatively strong and more governments in various countries now realising mining’s positive contribution, one would expect other places to follow suit in the upcoming months and quarters.

Epiroc’s quarterly results also provided some evidence of COVID-19 potentially speeding up the digitalisation and automation trend.

“In the quarter, we received multiple orders for automation solutions for both underground and surface applications, including a large order in Chile of equipment with 6th Sense solutions for automation, connectivity and information management,” Hedblom said in the results statement.

The Chile order referenced was for Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine, which included multiple units of Scooptram ST1030 and ST18 loaders, the Boomer S2 face drilling rig, the Boltec M bolting machine, and the Minetruck MT65.

On top of being equipped with 6th Sense, these machines come with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, which makes the equipment ready for automation and remote control, and Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time.

Speaking to IM, Hedblom said: “I think the pandemic has clearly increased the interest [in automation and digitalisation]. The mining companies, of course, are trying to minimise the number of people on site, and here digitisation, tele-remote, as well as automation, can offer support for that work. We are seeing more and more interest in that.”

She added: “We have been able to continue to deploy our automation projects because we have invested in automation centres regionally out in the different markets, on most continents. That has supported us to continue with this journey even though we can’t travel from Sweden to other countries at the moment.”

Summing up the results and the company’s broader offering during these pandemic-hit times, Hedblom concluded: “We have been focusing on lowering our cost in light of the pandemic and, as we have talked about, investing more in innovation than we have ever done. That is our commitment to the industry; to continue to come up with new products with better solutions from a productivity, safety and sustainability standpoint.”

Epiroc to supply equipment, services for Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine

Epiroc is to deliver underground loaders, face drill rigs, rock bolting rigs and mine trucks to the Chuquicamata underground mine in northern Chile following an order from Codelco.

The large equipment order, which comes on top of the signing of a large contract for services at Codelco’s Andina mine and a large order for equipment used at its El Teniente mine, also includes several years of technical support and training. The order is valued at more than $20 million and was booked in April 2020.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, opened the Chuquicamata underground mine in 2019 as it looked to transition the world’s largest open-pit mine into a technologically advanced underground operation. The transformation will extend the mine life by 40 years, according to Codelco.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said the company was proud to be a key partner of Codelco “as it significantly extends the life of the Chuquicamata mine in the most productive, efficient and safe manner possible”.

Juan Mariscal, Sourcing Category Manager at Codelco, says: “Epiroc was chosen because it complied with all the technical, safety and performance requirements that Codelco demanded for the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project, while being the supplier that provided the best economic proposal for all its equipment as a whole.”

The order includes multiple units of the Scooptram ST1030 and ST18 loader, the Boomer S2 face drilling rig, the Boltec M bolting machine, and the Minetruck MT65 (pictured), the highest payload capacity underground truck in the world.

The machines will be equipped with 6th Sense solutions for automation, connectivity and information management, Epiroc says. The solutions include Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, which makes the equipment ready for automation and remote control, and Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time.

Delivery of the equipment will take place later this year.

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).

Epiroc expands production drilling capabilities with Simba teleremote e-tramming option

Epiroc says it is looking to maintain a leading position in the development of innovative equipment for use in mining and production drilling with the release of a new teleremote e-tramming option for its Simba series of rigs.

In the Simba Automation package, multiple automation functions are available to optimise the drilling process, according to Epiroc. With the recent addition of the e-tramming function the production drilling process can be handled in an even safer and more continuous way, the company said.

This will allow a Simba rig to be operated remotely and work more productively in a continuous “ring-to-ring” fashion, Epiroc said. “After drilling a ring and retrieving the rods, the rig can be tele-remotely trammed to the next ring, saving time and work effort. Not only does the tramming process become faster and simpler, the teleremote e-tramming function also provides a safer work environment since the operator can control the machine out of harm’s way, even between rings.”

Guilherme Paiva, Global Product Manager of Automation at Epiroc, said: “Our Simba drill rigs are globally recognised as the best in their class, and we continue to strive towards even smarter and faster solutions. Teleremote e-tramming makes for an easier, safer and more continuous drilling process. Fewer disruptions mean greater productivity.”

Simba rigs that feature Epiroc’s Rig Control System can be operated through a control panel from onboard the rig or from a remote location where potentially hazardous work conditions can be avoided. With information provided by laser sensors and cameras mounted on the rig, the operator can navigate, position and stabilise the rig to ensure drilling is executed according to plan, Epiroc said. “Mission accomplished in one ring, the operator can then tram to the next and the next.”

Paiva said: “We want to make the world’s best production drill just a bit better to optimise the entire drilling process, from positioning the rig to emptying the stope. Through automation and the ability to process more real-time information, we are taking huge steps towards greater safety and efficiency.”