Tag Archives: Scooptram

Epiroc books battery-electric orders from mines in Finland, Australia and Canada

Epiroc says it has recently secured orders for its second generation battery-electric machines from miners in Finland, Australia and Canada.

The orders come less than a year since the mining original equipment manufacturer launched the new range at an event in Örebro, Sweden.

In Finland in the September quarter, Agnico Eagle Mines ordered the Boltec E Battery rig for use at its Kittilä mine, Europe’s biggest gold operation.

The company, as part of the EU-led Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) project where Epiroc is serving as a coordinator, has also been testing Epiroc battery-electric equipment. A Boomer E2 Battery has been operating for some months at the mine and, in August, a Minetruck MT42 Battery (42 t truck) and a Scooptram ST14 Battery (14 t LHD) arrived as part of the project.

Jari Kolehmainen, Production Manager at Agnico Eagle Mines, said the Boomer E2 Battery had been performing well and a diesel engine had not “been missed”.

He continued: “Operator feedback has been positive and we are looking forward to expanding our fleet with more electrical powered equipment in the near future. Therefore we are also very excited to be testing the battery-powered mine truck and loader. These tests are giving us the confidence to be a successful early adopter of this new and exciting technology.”

In addition to the orders and testing at Kittilä, several orders from other companies have been booked in previous quarters for battery-electric versions of the Boltec rock bolting rig, Boomer face drilling rig, Scooptram loader and Minetruck hauler, the company said.

Epiroc, upon launching its second generation machines in November 2018, said it had clocked up more than 60,000 hours of operating time with these electric machines. It is being helped along the way by battery maker Northvolt and ABB. Epiroc has committed to its Batteries-as-a-service offering that sees the mining OEM provide a warranty for the battery and provide both software and hardware updates on an annual basis.

The company launched its first battery-electric machines in 2016, adding, in November 2018, 14 t and 18 t LHDs, a 42 t truck and a mid-sized drilling family including face drilling, production drilling and rock reinforcement rigs. Epiroc aims to be able to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025.

The benefits of this technology include improved health and safety, lower total cost of operation and higher productivity. The advantage is especially significant for deepening underground operations where mining companies traditionally must invest heavily in ventilation to air out the diesel fumes.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We see very strong customer interest for our new battery-electric mining machines. The technology is now well established, and more and more mining companies are realising the significant benefits that come with using electric machines instead of diesel. We are proud to spearhead the mining industry’s drive toward a fossil-free future.”

MacLean Blockholer to keep ore flowing at all-electric Borden gold project

The flagship unit of MacLean Engineering’s Ore Flow suite is now ready to join the equipment manufacturer’s battery-electric fleet at Newmont Goldcorp’s Borden project, in northern Ontario, Canada.

The MacLean Blockholer is a “versatile warrior”, according to Viv Bhatt, Product Manager – Ore Flow, Drill & Blast at MacLean Engineering.

“We call it a Blockholer, you may know it as a secondary reduction drill, but either way it comes down to the same thing…a critical tool for making sure the ore flows in underground mining,” Bhatt said, adding that there are more than 125 success stories from across the globe that attest to this.

MacLean’s battery-electric fleet at Borden, billed by its owners as being the world’s first all-electric mine upon start-up (expected later this year), has been steadily growing over the past year or so. The company said back in March that the delivery to Borden of the Blockholer would see its fleet hit 15 units, comprised of six bolters and nine utility vehicles.

On the Blockholer specifically, Bhatt said: “Whether it’s a low hang-up in a drawpoint, or oversize rock on the ground that’s too large for scoops to handle and too disruptive to get rid of with concussion blasting, it’s your secondary reduction rig that solves the problem and ensures that production isn’t held up.

“And when it’s not tasked with this mission, it can be put to use for ancillary drilling for mine services.”

Bhatt listed off five reasons why the self-contained blockholer drill could become the workhorse of hard-rock underground mining fleets:

  • “Improved safety – In dealing with low hang-ups, runs of muck remain a potential risk. Remote-controlled drilling and loading explosives from a safe distance is a much safer option than manual loading of concussion blasts, and this is precisely what Blockholer drills deliver;
  • “Improved production – One mine went from 700 tons per day (635 t/d) off a mucking horizon to 3,000 tons/d after the introduction of a Blockholer. Another had a pillar blast break poorly and they were unable to make 50% of schedule prior to acquiring a Blockholer. (In this instance the unit was paid for entirely with the savings in secondary blasting explosives.) Also, pulling the wrong boxhole because of a hang-up or because it is choked with large muck results in improper draw leading to dilution and/or loss of metal vis-a-vis calculated reserves;
  • “Reduced Scooptram maintenance costs – The safe and efficient treatment of oversize improves scoop availability (ie it increases tonnage) and, at the same time, it reduces parts costs especially for major items in the drive train such as planetary gear boxes, drive shafts, and differentials, and in the mucking action for cylinders, linkages, and buckets;
  • “Reduced blasting powder and rehab costs – Over and above the safety benefits, self-contained blockholer drills deliver substantial cost savings with regard to the use of secondary blasting powder, as well as reduced detonation effects on ventilation air. Elimination of concussion blasting in drawpoint throats (especially with powder packs wedged between a large chunk and the brow) also significantly reduces the need for brow repair and re-bolting, as well as damage to mine services like air lines, water lines, power cables, ventilation doors, vent ducting and fans”, and;
  • “Versatility for mine support – Blockholers can also efficiently and safely perform mine service support functions such as drilling for the installation of ventilation doors, dams, fans, pipelines, power cables, etc. This is particularly beneficial when installing or repairing services in remote or high-traffic areas of a mine.”

And, of course, the Blockholer is equipped with MacLean’s latest EV Powertrain, providing zero emissions, low noise and low heat operations, Bhatt concluded.

Autonomous haulage trials produce “favourable” results at Agnico Eagle LaRonde

Agnico Eagle, during the June quarter, continued to test out autonomous mining at its LaRonde Zone 5 underground gold operation in Quebec, Canada, and, so far, the results have been encouraging.

The company has been increasing the network and communications capacity at the deep underground mine in the last year or so, with an LTE network now deployed in Zone 5.

The use of this advanced communications infrastructure should help facilitate the use of autonomous mining equipment at the operation, Agnico said; a theory it is currently testing out.

Agnico said, in its June quarter results, trials of automated mining equipment (two trucks and one scooptram) continued over this period, with testing taking place on weekend night shifts when underground activity is at reduced levels. Trials initially began in the December quarter of 2018.

The company said: “Testing has yielded favourable results as autonomous mucking and hauling of ore from underground to surface was successfully achieved.”

Trials are set to continue throughout this year, the company said.

Epiroc loaders and drills set for Codelco El Teniente underground copper mine

Epiroc says it has won a “large order” from construction company Züblin International GmbH Chile Spa for equipment to be used for the expansion project at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine in Chile.

Züblin International GmbH Chile, owned by STRABAG Group and the contractor for Codelco, has ordered multiple drill rigs and loaders for use in the El Teniente underground copper mine, with Epiroc’s state-of-the-art equipment ensuring “high productivity and safe operation as the mine will be deepened, extending its lifespan by an estimated 50 years”, Epiroc said.

The order totals around SEK135 million ($14.03 million) and was placed in the June quarter. It includes different models of the Boomer face drilling rig (including the Boomer E2), Simba production drilling rig and Scooptram loader, as well as on-site technical support.

The machines will be equipped with the Epiroc telematics system Certiq, allowing automated and intelligent monitoring of productivity and machine performance. Epiroc said delivery has started and will take place through early 2020.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We are proud to play a vital role as the El Teniente mine is expanded and gets to thrive for many more years in a productive and safe manner.”

Dirk Pförtner, Commercial Managing Director at STRABAG Spa Chile, said Epiroc had been able to put together a comprehensive offer that included not just equipment but also service support and in-depth training.

Epiroc helps Barrick Gold’s Hemlo mine go deeper with automation and teleremote control

An autonomous and teleremote solution from Epiroc has allowed Barrick Gold’s team at Hemlo in Ontario, Canada, to enhance safety, and reduce ventilation and climate control requirements, even as the underground mine goes deeper.

These innovations are the most recent addition to an automation programme at Barrick’s Hemlo open stope mine. The programme began with an autonomous truck circuit in 2007 and is now accelerating with a five-year plan following a year-long search for a solution offering the lowest cost, quickest implementation and solid product support, according to Epiroc.

Hemlo has produced more than 21 Moz of gold, and has been operating continuously for more than 30 years. It produced 196,000 oz last year and is expected to produce 200,000-220,000 oz this year.

The complex is made up of an open pit and underground mine, with the latter expected to operate until 2021 at an average production rate of approximately 3,600 t/d, according to the latest mine technical report.

Patrick Marshall, Manager Automation Projects for Barrick, said the company studied all available technology before settling on Epiroc’s solution.

“We had conferences with manufacturers and visited their facilities. We toured operations where their equipment was at work,” he said.

“We believe the Epiroc package featured the product support we wanted, had the best integration capability for our multivendor operation, had the right pricing model and, in general, was the best fit for our needs.”

Barrick preferred to use Cisco for wireless infrastructure, with Marshall explaining the Epiroc system was “easily adaptable for use with third-party wireless systems”.

For Hemlo, which is now being mined from around 1.4 km below surface, safety is the greatest benefit of the automation-ready Epiroc Scooptram ST14. Combining autonomous tramming with teleremote operation also increases productivity, according to Epiroc.

Hemlo Mine Superintendent Jon Laird said: “Automation and teleremote control get workers away from the operating environment to an office on the surface ‒ the ultimate in safe operation. And, since it continuously mucks from stopes at a steady rate even through shift changes, it eliminates having to move operators to it every shift.”

Laird said the 14 t-capacity Epiroc Scooptram is “so efficient it threatens to outpace crushing operations at the ore pass”.

One solution to this ‘overproduction’ being discussed is creating additional ore passes to give one crushing operation time to clear ore between dumps. The Scooptram loader can easily learn multiple routes and alternate between them.

“Other systems Hemlo looked at took up to a full shift for the route-learning process,” Epiroc said.

The automation zone is marked with a laseractuated barrier at Hemlo. Crossing this light curtain will trip a shutdown of the level and alarm those on surface. An electronic ‘key’ from a safety box near the light curtain is required before a unit can enter the zone.

Operator Wayne Locht said: “It (the key) connects the rig to the automation area so that the safety system knows that the rig is in the area.”

Equipment at Hemlo is tagged to display its location in the mine with Mobilaris real-time tracking software. The same Mobilaris technology is planned for miners’ hard hats by the end of 2018.

Once in the zone, Locht radios the operator waiting at the control room operator station on the surface, 1.4 km above the mine. The rig can now be operated from this vantage point.

Certiq, the telematics system installed on the Scooptram, will be important for tracking, documenting and analysing operational data to learn how much Barrick gains from its investment in automation, according to Epiroc.

Mucking is not yet an automated feature, so this task is carried out by Locht remotely once back on surface.

“Until the rig is refueled, after approximately 16 hours, no human being will visit the rig or enter the automation zone. Teleremote operators will monitor its routine, taking control only during loading and dumping operations,” Epiroc said.

Barrick’s next step is finishing the wireless infrastructure throughout the Hemlo mine, expanding the automation zones, and getting more loaders. A single operator will run more than one machine from a control station, and the mine will have more than one station. Operators at any station will be able to control any of the automated Scooptram loaders, anywhere in the mine.

Marshall said: “Today, we’re connected. Tomorrow we’ll have optimised fleet management. In the near future, we’ll achieve our ultimate goal – fully autonomous mining underground executed by our operators from the surface.”

Epiroc names five keys to success of this operation:

  • “Mobilaris real-time location tracking: Mine-wide use of Mobilaris Mining Intelligence not only gives Hemlo real-time equipment tracking, but the precise location of each person underground – a vital advantage in case of an emergency;
  • “Designed with operators in mind: Operators report high satisfaction with the ergonomics, power, comfort and features of the Scooptram ST14 loader. Transitioning to teleremote and autonomous operation is quick and easy to learn;
  • “Capacity and speed boost productivity: The Scooptram ST14 loader with 14 t bucket capacity gives fast, fully loaded tramming speeds rated up to 29.5 km/h on level ground and up to 4.8 km/h up a 25% grade;
  • “Safer, more comfortable environment: Automated LHD operation reduces ventilation and climate control requirements for deep mining operations and moves operators to a safer, more comfortable environment than is possible with line-of-sight radio remote control;
  • “Multi-use Wi-Fi: Wireless infrastructure for autonomous operation also enables live access to performance data and provides minewide network access for location tracking and communication capabilities like mid-interval reporting.”