Drill & Blast

Contractor breaks ground with “intelligent” rig

Maxfield Drilling has been working closely with Boral in Tasmania for the past 30 years, but it was only in January last year that the companies partnered for their first project on the mainland.

“We have a great relationship with Boral,” said Dean Maxfield, the general manager at Maxfield Drilling.

“We’re very proud that they’ve shown the confidence in us to give us work in Victoria – a new state – so we’ve set up a workshop and office in Victoria and hopefully it’ll grow from there.”

Established in 1984, Maxfield Drilling is primarily a blast hole drilling contractor for quarries, open-cut mines and large-scale civil construction projects. It also conducts grade control drilling services and is currently working on about 46 sites across Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Tasmania.

The company has always placed an emphasis on keeping abreast of the latest technological developments, to ensure it remains at the forefront of the industry.

This shared vision has led to a close partnership between Maxfield Drilling and Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology. The relationship has gone from strength to strength since 2004, when Maxfield Drilling purchased its first piece of Sandvik equipment – a Pantera 1100 crawler rig. Since then it has bought more than 25 machines and its fleet now includes 20 Sandvik drills.

Now, in a first for Australia, Maxfield Drilling has been operating Sandvik’s Ranger DX900i surface drill rig at Boral’s Lysterfield Quarry, in the southern foothills of Mount Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east.

“We’d been talking to Sandvik for some years about getting a machine that was versatile in reach and movability, as well as being capable of achieving high production rates. When the DX900i was released, we thought it was a machine that could hopefully achieve both these tasks,” Maxfield said.

Rotating coverage

{{image2-a:r-w:300}}At the rig’s Australian launch in April 2018, Sandvik personnel said the DX900i had potentially the widest drilling coverage available in its class, with its revolving upper structure offering a 290-degree drilling reach and 55m² coverage.

Despite the rig’s ability to rotate, it maintains maximum stability through a counterweight structure opposite the boom. Its low centre of gravity and high tramming power also allow it to remain mobile.

“In a conventional rig, your reach from one spot to where you tram is only the boom movement and the areas of a few square metres maximum,” IIkka Lahdelma, Sandvik’s global director of product management for surface drilling and exploration, told Quarry.

“So basically, in this kind of drilling pattern, you are able to reach two holes, if you are tramming to a row of holes.

“Because the [DX900i] has a 290-degree turning upper structure, we are able to reach four-hole rows from the one set-up.”

During his presentation, Lahdelma also outlined how the Ranger DXi series is equipped with the latest versions of “Sandvik intelligence”, including full hole automatics, troubleshooting functions, iTorque drilling control system, full radio remote control and optional extras available for hole navigation, on-board data collection, wireless data transfer and drill plan creation and analytics.

In the field

Since becoming operational at Lysterfield, Maxfield told Quarry the rig has been performing well.

“From a movability and reach point of view, it far outperforms anything else we’ve used. Its penetration performance has met expectations and so far we’re very happy with the Volvo engine package. Fuel burn has been really good too.”

Sandvik’s publicity for the Ranger DX900i has emphasised that fuel consumption can be reduced by as much as 15 per cent on previous models.

“As with most new model machines, you can have some teething problems, but Sandvik have addressed all of them and have been very proactive in resolving any ongoing issues,” Maxfield said.

Feedback from the client, Boral, has also been positive.

“From my perspective, it’s been good,” said Rodney Krins, the drill and blast manager for quarries in Boral Construction Materials & Cement’s southern region. “We haven’t had any major issues. The versatility of it is good. Availability-wise, it’s been good, and the operator certainly seems to like it.”

While the Ranger DX900i hasn’t even finished its first assignment, it seems it will be only a matter of time before it starts appearing on more Australian sites. Based on what Maxfield Drilling has experienced in this short time, it is increasingly likely the company will consider more additions to its drill rig fleet in the future.


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