Plant & Equipment

Automation options for hard rock mining

The company has applied the technology and experience used to develop its underground automated mining systems to hard rock mining.
Pieter Prinsloo, Sandvik Mining’s Australian-based product support manager for mining systems (automation) said the options were flexible and scalable and offered increased safety.
Efficiency is gained through real-time process control to enable consistent productivity levels, superior drilling accuracy and more effective use of what has traditionally been non-productive time.
Surface drill rigs
AutoMine Surface Drilling is available for Sandvik?s existing DPi series of surface drill rigs, as well as its Next Generation Pantera drill range ? which was launched at Finland?s EuroMining 2013 exhibition earlier this month.
A key aim of AutoMine Surface Drilling is increasing mining personnel safety by minimising the need for them to access hazardous areas. 
These include:
  • Blast-damaged areas. 
  • Areas where underground drilling or mining has previously taken place and where there may be sub-surface voids. 
  • Areas close to high walls. 
  • Water drainage drilling. 
  • Pre-split and unscaled crests.
AutoMine Surface Drilling consists of:
  • An ergonomically designed remote operator station ? including a full set of standard drill rig controls.
  • A fully integrated on-board automation system within the drill rig.
  • A dedicated safety system.
  • A robust, reliable wireless network communications system between the rig and the operator station.
{{image2-a:r-w:200}}Real time connectivity
The wireless network connection provides continuous, reliable real time video and data communication between the drill rig and the operator station.
The operator station was designed to be installed on a range of mobile platforms, for example in a van or a trailer, enabling simple and quick relocation from one operational area to another.
Operator station hardware consists of two large touchscreen displays, along with drill rig controls identical to those in the rig itself. All drilling controls and equipment status are displayed on a graphical screen, while direct visual contact to the rig is provided by seven on-board video cameras. 
The cameras ? including a remote-controlled pan/tilt/zoom camera for drilling, rod-handling and tramming controls ? transmit real-time images on the operator station?s displays, eliminating blind spots in the drilling area.
Personnel in the remote operator station can carry out exactly the same tasks, using the same controls as conventional manual operation but with none of the potential hazards and health risks.
Removing operators from the drilling area significantly reduces their exposure to risks related to the drilling operation, including ground collapses, rock falls, dust, noise and vibrations.
And because the system allows drilling in areas inaccessible to manually operated drill rigs due to safety concerns, previously inaccessible resources can be more readily accessed ? significantly adding to mine production levels.
Sources: Sandvik Mining and Construction

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