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Locally made, fully automated rock bolter launched for the mining industry

27th February 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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A new fully automatic bolter has been launched by mining services company Buraaq into the South African mining industry for use in underground and opencast operations.

The Buraaq SD212i bolter is locally designed and built, with its core design focusing on improving the safety of the operator and cost-effectively improving efficiency, Buraaq CEO Sam Kader said at the launch event on February 27.

"We started design in 2017, and there has been a need in the marketplace for a fully mechanised bolter for quite some time. Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19, we have completed this machine that is made with more than 95% local procurement," he noted, while thanking the Buraaq team for the success of the project.

The fully mechanised, intelligent rock bolter removes the operator from the rockface and unsupported areas to prevent injury and fatalities. The extendable boom keeps operators away from the bolting area, explained Buraaq design engineer Muhammad Kudoos.

The bolter has a falling object protective structure that is certified to Level 9 safety standards of the Mine Health and Safety Act. It also has various electronic safety interlocks, including proximity detection systems, to ensure that the machine only operates when it is safe to do so, he noted.

Further, the SD212i has a large-diameter stinger cylinder for high-accuracy indexing, thereby reducing the potential for misalignment, and the robust magazine securely holds the unused bolts for vertical and horizontal bolting, said Kudoos.

The SD212i has a 2 m x 2 m low-profile envelope and can work in an operating headroom of 1.6 m, but can reach heights of 4.5 m.

To improve safety further, operators can use the IP 65-rated wireless controller, which uses frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology to ensure that the controller can operate interference-free in a 100 m radius and thereby ensure that the operator is out of the danger area, or if the operator needs to take a different viewpoint to conduct his or her work.

The programmable logic controller-based event logging provides an intelligent, programmable platform with safety interlocks to govern safe operations, and continuous event monitoring enables efficient fault-resolution, he added.

Additionally, the SD212i also predicts significant-risk scenarios and can bring the machine to a controlled stop when such a dangerous situation is detected, said Kudoos.

"The bolting process is fast, repeatable and safe. We also provide training for operators and maintenance technicians to ensure that our clients have access to the required skills to gain the safety and productivity benefits of the SD212i," said Kudoos.

Meanwhile, industry organisation Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa CEO Lehlohonolo Molloyi said at the launch that, although the mining industry in South Africa is facing many challenges, some successes must be acknowledged, including that fatality statistics have been dropping and reached the lowest in South African mining history of 49 fatalities recorded in 2022, and January saw no fatalities during the month.

"I congratulate Buraaq on their successful launch of this machine and dedication to safety and zero harm of people and the environment. All stakeholders in the industry must acknowledge that, as [industry organisation] the Minerals Council [of South Africa] says, zero-harm is achievable through the use of technology, such that we will be able to realise our goals of keeping people out of harm's way while still reaching our abundant and deep deposits of crucial minerals," he said.

South Africa has good engineering talent and skills that realise high levels of innovation within the industry. Although some of this is being lost to other parts of the world as local companies are bought over by larger multinational companies, South Africa can still take its advantage to the African mining market that is starting to flourish, said Molloyi.

"Mining stakeholders in Botswana, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d'Ivoire are starting to knock on our door to find out how best to develop their mines and mining industries," he noted.

Kader said the idea behind the new rock bolter was to ensure safe bolting while being cost-effective and based on local procurement.

Kudoos echoed this, noting that miners risk their lives daily to extract the minerals and resources required by the world and Buraaq's response is that they must return home safely each day.

"This was the vision that drove the development of the local fully automated bolter," he said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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