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Africa|Automation|blasting|Business|Cutting|Energy|Infrastructure|Mining|Safety|Sandvik|Sandvik Mining|Surface|Technology|Training|Underground|Equipment|Maintenance|Solutions|Drilling|Infrastructure|Operations
Africa|Automation|blasting|Business|Cutting|Energy|Infrastructure|Mining|Safety|Sandvik|Sandvik Mining|Surface|Technology|Training|Underground|Equipment|Maintenance|Solutions|Drilling|Infrastructure|Operations
africa|automation|blasting|business|cutting|energy|infrastructure|mining|safety|sandvik|sandvik-mining|surface|technology|training|underground|equipment|maintenance|solutions|drilling|infrastructure|operations

Underground drilling revolution underway

Image of the Sandvik DD422iE drill

The Sandvik DD422iE drill

8th March 2024

     

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Underground drilling technology is said to be undergoing a significant transformation, with the  adoption of intelligent drilling and a growing interest in battery electric models for the future. The advancements are set to improve precision and productivity while also providing detailed operational data. New technologies also offer the potential for safer drilling practices through remote control.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions business line manager: underground drills Khomotso Duiker reveals that the Sandvik 400 Series and the Sandvik 300 Series now feature intelligent models. Duiker notes that these innovations are driven by Sandvik's iSURE Intelligent Sandvik Underground Rock Excavation software, enabling automated drilling cycles.

“In Southern Africa, some forward-thinking diamond mining customers are already reaping the benefits, using the DD422i development drill rigs, as well as the DL422i and DL432i top hammer longhole drill rigs,” he says.

Duiker cautions that integrating intelligent technology into drilling operations is not without its challenges and says that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions collaborates closely with customers during this transformative phase, offering training and support. The company facilitates the introduction of cutting-edge machines and its in-house training department guides operators and maintenance teams on the use of the equipment.

“Understanding the full potential of automated functions is crucial for operators. These functions not only enhance safety but also boost productivity. The level of automation can vary from individual machines to entire fleets, with some machines capable of completing development ends without any operator intervention,” Duiker says.

A specific feature of the intelligent machine models is the ability to download a mine's drill plan for development ends and execute drilling precisely according to that plan. This optimisation can lead to more effective blasting, eliminating issues like underbreak or overbreak.

Remote control capabilities are highlighted as another benefit. The tele-remote function allows drilling operations to be controlled from the surface, provided there is sufficient on-site network infrastructure. To facilitate this transition, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it has a dedicated business line manager overseeing automation initiatives.

The drill rigs come equipped with Sandvik’s Knowledge Box which can be used to gather data such as advance speed, penetration rate and cycle times.

“Operators can track rig performance from a control room, identifying signs of underperformance or potential failures in real-time. This data empowers mines to make necessary improvements, be it in operator behaviour or machine condition, all of which is aimed at increasing productivity and uptime,” says Duiker.

The company also highlights its support for small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa. By facilitating the extraction of carbide buttons from its drill bits in partnership with SMMEs, Sandvik says it fosters entrepreneurship, job creation, recycling of tungsten carbide buttons from drill bits, and a reduction in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

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