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Intelligent rig begins work at limestone mine

A new, heavy-duty mining-spec drill rig has been put to work in hard rock conditions, utilising the quarrying expertise of a drill and blast service provider. As Damian Christie reports, it is the downstream benefits of the rig that will most benefit extractive operators.

Fullbore Mining has been operating predominantly in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for more than eight years. The company comprises 35 staff, many with more than 15 years of blasting experience in the quarrying, construction and mining sectors.

About 75 per cent of the company’s work is with quarries, which includes contracts with the larger extractive businesses in Boral, Holcim and Hanson, and smaller independents and small to medium enterprises.

Fullbore Mining offers contract drilling, rock on ground services, blast design and surveying, laser profiling and bore tracking, shotfiring, and explosives transport and storage. Its project work has included crushing contractors, road cuttings, windfarms, shafts and trench work.

“We provide comprehensive drill and blast services,” Reza Ghaemi, the business development manager at Fullbore Mining, told Quarry. “We survey and design the blast, using the latest technology in the market. We drill, using GPS drilling system and boretrack blastholes . We obtain supplies from an approved explosive supplier to provide shotfiring services.”

Sandvik’s Australian surface drilling and exploration business line manager Scott Wright (centre, right) formally presents Luke Martyn (centre, left), the managing director of Fullbore Mining, with the keys to the new rig.

“Our background – and our bread and butter – is in quarry work,” added Luke Martyn, the managing director of Fullbore Mining. “That’s where we’ve developed our skills and we’re really proud of that. The quarrying industry is full of a lot of interesting, knowledgeable individuals and it’s been built up over a long period of time. We have to be very particular about how we do things in quarries and we have to be very accurate about what we do. Our focus in the next few years is to develop the company and get into the mining space.”

Fullbore’s inventory includes a modern fleet of 23 top hammer and down the hole (DTH) intelligent drill rigs, equipped with a GPS guidance drilling system which ensures more accurate drilling, eliminates the need for surveyors to mark out blast holes on the bench, and increases safety for the drill and blast crew.

The rigs are fitted with the most advanced drilling control systems available in the market to “unite man and machine” and reach maximised productivity while potentially reducing fuel consumption on regular drill rigs, generating savings for clients’ operations.

The bulk of Fullbore’s drill rig fleet consists of Sandvik Pantera DP1100is and DP1500is, as well as a few DR500 machines. The company has in recent months acquired the Sandvik Leopard DI650i mining spec rig for work on a five-year project at a large limestone mine (whose name was not disclosed for this story).

The mine, which is an ongoing 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation, has an annual output of seven million tonnes, and the DI650i will be working non-stop over that five-year period. Fullbore will supplement the Leopard with other drilling equipment regularly in peak production periods.

Heavy-duty crawler 

The Leopard DI650i is a diesel-powered DTH crawler rig which has been designed for high capacity production drilling applications in surface mining and large-scale quarrying operations. The 25-tonne rig is equipped with the HTRH6 rotary head, with a hole diameter of 115mm to 180mm and maximum rotation torque of 4300 Nm, as well as 89mm, 102mm, 114mm, 127mm and 140mm diameter drill pipes and optimal size DTH hammers (101mm, 127mm and 152mm).

The HTRH6 is divided into four modules: the drive module, which generates high torque; the bearing module, for carrying high loads; the separate air inlet, for sealing maintenance; and the separated floating spindle, for serviceability.

The output of the Caterpillar C15 Tier 3 engine is 403kW (or 1800 revolutions per minute), with an air delivery of 28.3m3 working pressure up to 30 bar (435 psi). The Leopard’s production capability is 2.1 million tonnes per annum.

It has a fixed boom reach of 4188mm and collaring height of 714mm, with feed swing drilling angles of 30o and feed tilt drilling angles of 58o. According to Sandvik, the Leopard DI650i consumes up to 15 per cent less fuel per hour compared to conventional DTH drill rigs.

The DI650i’s other standard components include diesel-driven, hydraulic pumps and on-board compressor, a track-mounted carrier, electric load-sensing hydraulic and programmable logic controlled electro-hydraulics systems, and an X-200 dust collector.

The FOPS/ROPS-certified, ergonomic iCab offers a significantly low noise level of 78 decibels (dB). It features a touchscreen interface for the operator to set parameters and turn to trouble-shooting functions and the Sandvik iTorque drilling control system, which can be programmed with diverse drilling “recipes” for different rock conditions. In turn, the DI650i fits Fullbore’s philosophy of maximising productivity by investing in a feed alignment system that is designed to minimise hole set-up time and assist drilling in the desired direction and depth.

The cab allows for seating for a trainer or a service technician behind the operator’s chair.

“We chose this rig because of the hole size and the ground conditions,” Martyn said. “The machine has a high air capacity and it’s capable of drilling up to a 203mm hole. The Pantera DP1500i is capable of drilling up to 152mm but is obviously nearly a third of the air capacity of the Leopard. We need that air to be able to drill the geology at this mine site, to be able to push the cuttings out of the hole.”

Michael Forrest, the sales support manager for Sandvik, who worked with Fullbore Mining in the selection of the drill rig, said that the Leopard DI650i has been designed for mining applications but “also has the flexibility to be used in large scale quarry operations. As a DTH drill, it is generally more suited to the harder rock formations but flexible enough to work in varying ground conditions”.

“Machine model selection really comes down to the application requirements of the end user, and with Sandvik’s broad range of surface boom drills we have the customer needs covered,” Forrest added. “All Sandvik i-series surface boom drill rigs have scalable automation in various levels. These include our DI650i, DX800i, DX900i, DC400Ri, DC130Ri and DC300Ri models.

“The Leopard DI650i, like our other i-series drills, uses the common control SICA platform. All machine and scalable automation information is seamlessly integrated on one touch display. This allows the integration of smart features to be easily adapted to the machine as the owner sees fit or as their requirements change.

“It also means that this system will be capable of handling all our newer software improvements in the years to come. This includes our currently available options like the TIM 3D GPS hole navigation, one-hole full cycle drilling automatics, auto boom and feed alignment, automated feed to tram positioning, and the AutoMine tele-remote feature [which became available in Q4 2019].”

Forrest said the compatibility of the i-series drills means operators do not need to undertake intensive training on the DI650i. “With the Sandvik SICA control system utilised in our i-series surface drills, there are levels of commonality between all models and with on-board systems like the iTorque control which is also standard. This allows non-familiar operators to learn quickly while maintaining consistent productivity.”

Nonetheless, Forrest said Sandvik can customise training packages upon request, and the cab allows for seating for a trainer or a service technician behind the operator’s chair.

Martyn spoke highly of Forrest’s counsel and advice in Fullbore’s selection of the Leopard DI650i. “Michael has been really great to deal with. We originally went through the specs on the machine about two years ago. Back then, the Leopard wasn’t available – but Michael was liaising with the factory during the design process. Sandvik has listened to the customer about what works and doesn’t work on its rigs, and they’ve pulled it off pretty well, by all reports.”

All machine and scalable automation information is seamlessly integrated on a one touch display.

According to Sandvik, the Leopard DI650i encapsulates safety in its design and serviceability and conforms to European drill rig safety standard EN16228. In addition to the iCab, the rig features swing-out rear cooler covers for operators and technicians to fully access the cooler module for service and inspection. All other maintenance tasks can also be undertaken at ground level.

Martyn said Sandvik’s aftermarket service, at least based on other rigs in Fullbore’s fleet, is extremely good. Given the DI650i is the first of its range to operate on Australia’s east coast (the others are in Western Australia), he is uncertain how quickly spare parts will be available. However, the compatibility of the machine with Sandvik’s other drill rigs, along with the scalable automation feature, gives him confidence that Sandvik will deliver.

“One of the reasons we bought this machine was because of the ease of maintenance, and tried and tested componentry,” he said. “We are very familiar with a lot of the components that make up this machine. It is a similar brand and make to that of the Pantera series, and it is of a robust nature. The automation, the new technology and the fuel burn are meant to be very good as well.”

Given the DI650i is not your typical quarry-spec drill rig, Martyn cautioned operators about what they should be looking for in a new drill rig. “I suggest for other contractors, just do your homework and try to make a determination on what sort of machine best suits your quarry’s needs,” he said. “They all have different features, they all have different pluses and negatives, and you’ll just have to go through and try to make the best decisions.

“For quarry owners, I’d suggest you seriously look at your operation and what you’re good at, and try to make your money in that area. When it comes to the drill and blast process, I’d say to quarry owners to employ the most knowledgeable contractor, a top service provider, and focus on the areas where they know how to make money and focus on that, rather than being distracted by the drilling.” 

Leopard DI650i : Optional extras 

The Leopard DI650i is replete with options – from reverse cameras to compressor flow control systems to central lubrication systems to wireless and GPS control systems. The TIM 3D drill navigation system offers accuracy within 10cm based on Global Navigation Satellite System positioning signals and a correction signal – and through a two-way wireless connection can guide operators through all stages of the precision drilling process, from tramming, hole positioning and feed alignment to the drilling and reporting.

This includes transferring drill plans and surface models and hole quality reports between the rig and the control room.

The DI650i also utilises the TIMi angle measurement system for vertical holes and depth measurement, with additional options for inclined holes, GPS-aligned holes, and feed auto-alignment. This aligns with Fullbore Mining’s own goal to provide its customers with low cost operations that increase productivity, improve fragmentation, streamline time management and minimise fuel burn.

The rig also has an optional rotational head: the MRH6 (top left), which is optimised for hole diameters of 127-203mm and DTH top hammers of 152-165mm. The MRH6, which has a maximum rotation torque of 5800 Nm, is designed for heavy-duty applications and its gearbox can carry heavy loads. A patented bearing prevention mechanism eases bearing service and enhances durability. A separate floating spindle provides serviceability and the carriage can be separated for rapid replacement and maintenance.

Source: Sandvik Mining & Construction

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