Tag Archives: teleremote drilling

Rajant’s BreadCrumb Peregrine unlocks tech deployment possibilities for Anglo American in South Africa

Rajant Corporation, the pioneer of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, says it has successfully deployed its fourth-generation BreadCrumb® Peregrine node at an Anglo American operation in South Africa.

Peregrine, which supports a maximum combined data rate of 2.3 Gb/s and up to six times enhanced throughput performance over existing Rajant BreadCrumbs, is being used at the operation to support applications for mine production systems, including proximity detection, fatigue management and teleremote drilling.

It is the first deployment in South Africa with Anglo American.

“Rajant has always been the leader in industrial wireless mesh networking,” Reyno Eksteen, BU Head, Scan RF Projects, a Rajant Kinetic Mesh distributor, says. “With the substantial increase in performance of the new generation Peregrine BreadCrumbs, our customers now can support applications that require more bandwidth. Because all Rajant BreadCrumb models are fully backward compatible, it makes migrating to the latest higher-capacity radio nodes much easier while still redeploying the existing BreadCrumbs to other parts of the network to get the most out of the customer’s investment.”

After successful implementation, Anglo American confirmed a considerable increase in capacity of the Rajant Peregrine within its pit network, enabling the company to become more innovative by introducing technologies in areas of its operation where it was previously impossible, Rajant says. This allows the mine to scale the overall network with the operation’s demands quickly, bringing much higher bandwidth closer within areas of its pit production environment.

The new Peregrine BreadCrumb provides impressive performance with the same robust hardware, which can withstand the harsh conditions of an open-pit mine, Rajant added.

The Peregrine offers multiple MIMO radio interfaces, high throughput and enhanced security performance with up to 256-QAM and 80 MHz channels. It is part of Rajant’s initiative to develop deeply integrated solutions that securely combine data from connected people, vehicles, machines and sensors, with machine learning.

“This data combination unlocks the benefits of process optimisation, digital twins, predictive analytics, condition-based maintenance, augmented reality and virtual reality while improving worker safety,” Rajant says.

The Peregrine is interoperable with all BreadCrumb radio nodes to expand market capabilities for industries like mining, rail, shipping ports, public safety, agriculture and heavy construction. It is fortified with rugged, environmentally-sealed enclosures and supports several robust cryptographic options for data and MAC-address encryption and per-hop, per-packet authentication.

Scalable to hundreds of mobile, high-bandwidth nodes, the Peregrine enables data, voice, and video applications.

(photo credit: Anglo American)

Zinkgruvan Mining and Epiroc collaborate on teleremote drilling trial backed by LTE

Zinkgruvan Mining is feeling the effects of teleremote drilling using a 4G LTE network and Epiroc’s Simba E7 rig at its underground base metal mine, according to a case study from the Sweden-based OEM*.

In early spring 2021, Zinkgruvan Mining, working in conjunction with Epiroc and IT, and telecom operator Telia, first connected its Simba E7 rig to an LTE (Long Term Evolution) network. Since then, remote production has taken off like a shot in the areas where the LTE network has been commissioned, according to Epiroc, while acknowledging this is still in trial mode.

The mine has a total of four Epiroc Simba rigs, with, at present, one of these connected via Simba Teleremote, some 350 m underground. In the future, operators may move to an office 800 m underground to get closer to the rig.

“So far, we’ve drilled seven pallets remotely,” Operator, Jocke Lindblad (pictured on the left), said. “It runs very smoothly, and as soon as we find something that doesn’t work, I can call the Epiroc service engineer who has been there from the start.”

Lindblad monitors the rig from a quiet above-ground office, next to a window where daylight flows in.

“I like being down in the mine too, but it’s certainly safer and better for the body to sit here,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to take a coffee break or get a breath of fresh air when I feel like it.”

The fact the operators do not need to drive down into the mine on a regular basis means they can drill an average of four hours more per day, according to Epiroc. In purely technical terms, Lindblad can operate the rig from an office in the same way as he would down in the mine. The screens and levers are the same as on the rig.

“The only difference is that I can’t hear the drill,” Lindblad said. “But you do have to keep a close watch on the measurement values on the display.”

An LTE future

Epiroc said: “Building a dedicated LTE network has been a challenge. It is much harder to bring together a design in a mine than above ground. However, the choice was easy.”

Craig Griffiths, Mining Manager at Zinkgruvan Mining, said the company, a Lundin Mining subsidiary, looked at running automation via Wi-Fi, but decided against this as it wanted the network to work for at least another 10 years and be able to handle the demands of the future.

He is convinced the investment puts the mine in a good position for years to come.

“This will give us better control over our production and reduce our costs,” he said. “It feels really good. But the greatest gain will be in respect of safety, with our employees having to spend less time in the mine.”

No-one to ask

While the Simba occasionally – under Lindblad’s supervision above ground – changes position for a new drill hole, Mattias Dömstedt, Technical Production Coordinator, and Håkan Mann, Project Manager, have time to explain how the technology works, and how the work of installing it has progressed.

“Once complete, the project will have seen about 70 remote radio units, ie transmitters and receivers of radio signals in the LTE network, installed in the mine, providing coverage of around 70 km,” Mann said. “The LTE network will then be extended as the mine expands. The portion of the LTE network currently in operation covers around 15 km.”

By then, hopefully some time in 2022, it will be possible to run another Simba rig by teleremote, provided that RCS4 can be used via LTE, Epiroc said. But Dömstedt, Mann and their colleagues on the project have already come a long way since the very first tests in December 2020, which were designed to show whether teleremote over the LTE network worked at all.

Dömstedt said: “We were in Epiroc’s workshop 800 m down in the mine. We had a remote station in the room next to the rig, and we looked out to see if it was moving around on the rig, and it was.”

The company sees LTE opening further possibilities. For example, Zinkgruvan has collaborated with Mobilaris to set up unique, full site coverage, communication and positioning infrastructure at the site, a project that led to the development of Mobilaris Virtual Tag™, which is running on LTE.

Mann said: “As we are the first to build something like this, we haven’t been able to ask anyone for help, we’ve had to solve all the problems ourselves along the way.”

According to Mann, the key to success lies in clear, short decision-making paths and a responsive way of working where everyone, including partners and suppliers, takes responsibility and is fully committed.

“This is exactly our approach to this project,” he said. “Everyone involved has had direct contact with each other. Even the operators have been able to talk directly to those building the network.”

The close cooperation with Epiroc has been crucial to the project, according to the OEM.

“Our development has gone hand-in-hand with that of Epiroc,” Mann said. “They’ve known that we were going to build an LTE network and then developed their teleremote system accordingly.”

Despite the fact Zinkgruvan is still a long way from bringing home the project, both Mann and Dömstedt are proud of what they have achieved. After completing 6,500 remotely drilled meters, they say the drilling is more efficient than ever, while the operators are satisfied and happy. The target is to reach 10,000 m, after which a thorough evaluation of the technology will be carried out.

Dömstedt said: “It’s been fantastic to work on this project. I’ve been working with automation in different ways for four years here in the mine and now have started drilling and see how it has developed – it’s been really fun! Of course, the fact that we’re getting such good feedback from the operators makes it even more exciting.”

*This story is an edited version of an Epiroc Customer Story here 

OceanaGold’s Haile mine steps up drilling productivity with Epiroc BenchREMOTE

The drill and blast team at OceanaGold’s Haile gold mine, in South Carolina, recently added remote technology from Epiroc to its blasthole drilling process.

Haile is the first gold mine in the US to use Epiroc’s BenchREMOTE technology for remote control drilling with two of its three Epiroc drills, according to the miner.

“This technology provides many advantages for Haile’s workforce – no strangers to working in sometimes harsh South Carolina environmental conditions of extreme heat, wind, and rain,” the company said.

The BenchREMOTE system enables operators to work from a safe distance in a comfortable environment, handling up to three rigs in parallel. This technology allows the operator station to be placed up to 100 m away and +/- 30 m in elevation with a line of sight to communicate with the drills. Haile purchased two Epiroc D65 drills, BD7 and BD8, in 2019 compatible with this new technology.

“The BenchREMOTE package includes the operator station only, so installation design is determined at the operator’s discretion allowing for a customisable end product,” the company said.

Haile Drill and Blast General Supervisor, Aaron Kash, worked with ATC Trailers to design Haile’s housing, building the remote station into a fully insulated enclosed trailer.

“When we bought the equipment from Epiroc, I reached out to our local ATC trailer dealer and had them bring up the specs of a similar trailer,” Kash said. “We made a few changes – making it a little longer, equipping it with a bigger A/C unit to withstand the heat, and upgraded the generator.”

Safety is a primary concern any time people are present on a drill pattern with remotely operated drills. Communication, situational awareness, preparation, and warning systems are necessary for maintaining safe operation, according to the miner.

“Perhaps the most significant benefit of the remote drills is the potential for increased productivity,” the miner said. “Now one driller can operate up to three machines at a time, increasing utilisation.”

Another safety benefit is that the remote drill can access areas that may be unsuitable for people to access.

“With the development of the new Haile Pit, we are encountering historic workings,” Kash said. “We may want to drill into an area with little cover to see what’s there, but we don’t want to risk putting somebody physically in the drill.”

In 2020, the Haile gold mine is expected to produce between 180,000-190,000 oz of gold.

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.