Tag Archives: Sami Niiranen

Orica, Epiroc and Agnico Eagle carry out world-first development charging milestone at Kittilä

Orica and Epiroc, in partnership with Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, have successfully commenced live blasting with Avatel™ – the world’s first semi-automated wireless underground development charging solution at Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä mine in Finland.

The milestone brings to life an industry-driven concept that dramatically improves safety at the face, which is one of the highest risk activities in underground mining today, Orica and Epiroc say.

Avatel enables a single operator to prepare and wirelessly complete a full charging cycle from the safety of an enclosed cabin while offering the best available blast outcomes through the integration of Orica and Epiroc’s flagship digital, automation and blasting technologies.

The first successful blast was loaded and fired on November 22, 2022, comprising 61 Orica WebGen™ 200 Dev wireless primers and 295 kilograms of Orica’s Subtek™ bulk emulsion loaded to a development face at the Kittilä mine.

Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Together with Epiroc and Agnico Eagle we are extremely proud of the team in creating a solution that keeps people out of harm’s way during what is considered one of the highest risk activities for underground miners around the globe.

“With Avatel, we can now effectively manage risk for the people who spend the most time every shift directly exposed to hazards at the development face while delivering all of the blast optimisation benefits that Orica’s flagship technologies bring. The combination of digital, automation and wireless blasting technologies and by partnering with customers and peers, we can continue to solve the industry’s biggest challenges across safety, productivity and sustainability, together.”

Sami Niiranen, President for Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “This is a true milestone achieved for our industry where Epiroc in partnership with Orica have led the way to safer underground operation. By building on our recognised solutions and advanced Rig Control System, Avatel paves the way to safe productivity for the mining industry.”

Jari Näsi, Development Manager – Kittilä Mine, Agnico Eagle, said: “We are proud to create history here at Kittilä where the first mechanised and wireless development blast was initiated. There is always some risk when working close to the face; being able to do this work safely and efficiently from the cabin is promising, and mechanising the process will give a better blasting result.”

The first commercial implementation of Avatel will take place at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations from December 2022.

Epiroc to use SSAB fossil-free steel on prototype battery-electric Minetruck MT42 truck

Epiroc says it is pioneering a battery-electric underground mine truck prototype made from fossil-free steel in line with the company’s vision to produce the world’s greenest machines.

This partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB, Epiroc says, accelerates the journey towards reduced carbon-dioxide emissions, ultimately helping mining companies reach their climate goals.

In partnership with steel manufacturer SSAB, Epiroc is now prototyping an underground mine truck with a dump box made of fossil-free steel, the battery-electric Minetruck MT42. The result is a 10-t reduction of CO2 emissions per manufactured dump box, the equivalent of taking five gasoline cars out of service for an entire year, Epiroc said.

The partnership will help Epiroc accelerate its journey to create a more sustainable future, deliver the world’s greenest machines and support its customers.

“Our innovation agenda goes hand in hand with our customers’ sustainability agenda,” Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, says. “In the shift to a new, low-carbon economy, our products and services will be a key contributor for our customers to meet their climate goals.”

SSAB aims to deliver fossil-free steel to the market in commercial scale during 2026, and delivered the first steel made of hydrogen-reduced iron in 2021. SSAB works with iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall in Sweden as part of the HYBRIT initiative to develop a value chain for fossil-free iron and steel production, replacing coking coal traditionally needed for iron ore-based steelmaking, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. This process virtually eliminates carbon dioxide-emissions in steel production.

“The development of new technologies is essential to enable the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Johnny Sjöström, Head of SSAB Special Steels, said. “Our fossil-free steel immediately reduces the carbon footprint to near zero without compromising the high quality and properties you would expect from SSAB steels. It is the same steel, just without the negative environmental impact.”

The battery-electric Minetruck MT42 is a breakthrough for Epiroc’s sustainable innovation, the company said. It is a significant step in the company’s ambition to produce cutting-edge, environmentally smart mining equipment. It is emissions-free in operation, generating a strong positive impact on the climate as well as on operators’ work environment and productivity, according to the OEM.

“We all play a part in creating a more sustainable future,” Camilla Goldbeck-Löwe, Vice President Corporate Responsibility at Epiroc, said. “Our partnership with SSAB has enabled us to present the world’s first underground mine truck made using fossil-free steel.”

Epiroc advances face drilling automation with Boomer E10, E20 rigs

Epiroc says its new Boomer E10 and E20 mark another breakthrough for automated face drilling rigs, offering “outstanding” operator assistance features, optional battery-electric driveline for zero-emission tramming, and “great” flexibility and coverage.

Besides being compact enough for mine development, both drill rigs feature BUT 45-booms with telescopic feed beams. These powerful booms fit a wide range of applications and can tackle the requirements of heavy-duty construction work with ease, according to Epiroc.

“This is yet another automation breakthrough for face drilling where Epiroc leads the way to safer and more productive mining and construction operations,” Sami Niiranen, President at Epiroc Underground division, said.

With features like teleremote drilling, auto level and setup assist, the Boomer E10 and E20 strengthen productivity and safety for operators, according to the company.

Camilla Spångberg, Global Product Manager at Epiroc’s Underground division, said: “Thanks to teleremote drilling the operator can drill a full face from a control room. Naturally, this is a safer workplace. In addition, you can reach up to 25% increased productivity by drilling during shift changes and lunch breaks.”

Furthermore, both drill rigs provide operators with setup assist. Thanks to the carrier being equipped with an advanced scanner measuring the distance to the walls and face, positioning the rig perfectly in the mine or tunnel becomes an easy task for the operator, according to the company.

“In combination with digital drill plans, setup assist eliminates time-consuming repositioning,” Spångberg added. “It also ensures both productivity and great quality.”

In the comfortable and safe cabin, operators can enjoy low sound levels (<65 dbA) and less vibration, and a new panel interface for tramming. In addition, great visibility and multi-functional joysticks ensure that operators always keep their eyes on task, the company added.

Epiroc battery-electric retrofit solution coming in Q1 2021

Epiroc has confirmed that its battery-electric retrofit solution for diesel-powered machines is expected to launch in the March quarter of 2021.

Speaking at the company’s Capital Markets Day Fika 2020 event on Monday, Mattias Olsson, SVP Corporate Communications, confirmed the launch date during an investor Q&A session.

Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, said during the same event that the ST1030 underground loader would be the first unit to undergo a diesel- to battery-powered conversion. These 10-t-payload LHDs are the company’s largest loader segment, according to Niiranen.

Jess Kindler, President of Parts and Service, said these conversions were expected to be conducted during a midlife service rebuild process.

Epiroc ‘new generation’ Boomer drill rig to launch in 2021

Epiroc is planning a “new generation” Boomer face drilling launch in 2021 as it looks to capture more market share in the underground mining contractor market.

Speaking at Epiroc’s Capital Markets Day Fika 2020 event on Monday, Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, said the new rigs would be designed for increasing both production and safety.

The company referred to the machine in presentation slides as a “true development rig, fully equipped for multi-task operation and automation”, with Niiranen adding that the Boomer will come with a battery-electric driveline option.

During his presentation, Niiranen also provided investors and interested parties with the latest numbers on Epiroc’s digitalisation and automation solutions.

He confirmed that more than 1,000 machines were now connected to the company’s Certiq telematics system, while there were circa-90 production Simba production drills operating autonomously. This came alongside around 50 automated underground LHDs and some 670 drills with full automation capability.

Epiroc and Orica announce world first semi-automated explosives delivery system

Orica and Epiroc Rock Drills say they have successfully co-developed a prototype of the world’s first semi-automated explosives delivery system.

A sought-after technology by customers in the underground hard-rock mining sector, Avatel™ will deliver a completely new way of approaching development blasting operations by eliminating charge crew exposure at the face, according to the companies.

Orica and Epiroc expect to commence commissioning on Avatel, the first-of-its-kind, industry-driven explosives delivery system, in the coming weeks, meaning the solution could be deployed at underground mine sites as early as the end of 2021.

The solution provides safe access for an operator in cab to execute the development cycle while reducing the reliance on costly, time-consuming and, at times, ineffective controls put in place to manage the risks to personnel working in one of the highest risk areas of an underground mine, the companies said.

Orica’s Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions.

“Achieving this significant development milestone, despite COVID-19 disruptions, shows the strength of our collaboration with Epiroc and our collective ability to deliver the future of mining.”

Epiroc’s President Underground division, Sami Niiranen, said: “With this partnership, we continue to raise the safety bar by combining world leading technologies that will make a difference in underground mines.

“The Avatel prototype represents the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground. We are looking forward to bringing this ground-breaking solution to customers worldwide.”

A key enabling technology of Avatel and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, Orica’s fully wireless initiation system. When combined with Orica’s LOADPlus™ smart control system, specifically designed on-board storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek™ Control bulk emulsion, Avatel provides customers with complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution, the companies say.

Built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and integrated with Orica’s latest explosives technology, Avatel is a twin boom, semi-autonomous and fully mechanised development charging solution that, Epiroc and Orica says, allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of Epiroc’s enclosed ROPS and FOPS certified cabin.

“Avatel is equipped with the most sophisticated version of Epiroc’s acclaimed Rig Control System (version 5),” they said.

“Through its intuitive interface, with a large touchscreen and dual multifunctional joysticks, and, combined with Epiroc´s computer assisted boom positioning features, it can be easily handled. Integrated with Orica’s LOADPlus, charge plans and other important data will be communicated between the systems.”

The design of Avatel builds on Epiroc’s application design experience, further adapted to match conditions this new solution will face. Future developments can be extended to other Epiroc carriers including battery drivelines, they say.

Other advantages include flexibility at the face through Epiroc´s dual diesel/electric plug-in power solution.

“The convergence of these technologies ultimately ensures that the right explosives will be safely delivered into the right holes and given the right timing to achieve optimal efficiencies and the desired outcomes,” the companies said.

Extensive trials of Avatel will take place throughout 2021, before the first commercially available systems are expected to enter service.

Orica announced in November 2019 that it had entered a partnership with Epiroc to develop a semi-automated explosives delivery system.

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).