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The RoXplorer drill rig is set to “revitalise” Australia’s mining industry.
The RoXplorer drill rig is set to “revitalise” Australia’s mining industry.

“Revolutionary” drill rig trials conducted

A new drilling rig system has undergone successful trials in South Australia, with the technology being described as having the capability to “revitalise” Australia’s mining and quarrying industries.

The successful trials represent the culmination of a seven-year, $20 million project that is aiming to develop a “next generation” mineral exploration drill rig, capable of drilling down to a depth of 500 metres.

As previously reported by Quarry, AMIRA International, an organisation of minerals companies and suppliers that develops, brokers and facilitates collaborative research projects, initiated the RoXplorer project in 2010.

The Deep Exploration Technologies Co-operative Research Centre (DET CRC) led the project, while partnering with the CSIRO, Curtin University and three drilling suppliers – Boart Longyear, Imdex and Teakle Composites.

The prototype underwent its first field drilling trials earlier this year in a site 20km west of SA’s Port Augusta, adjacent to an area previously drilled by conventional diamond drilling methods.

According to a media release for the company, the RoXplorer differs from conventional drilling in that the drill string is a continuous, malleable steel coil, as opposed to being comprised of individual steel rods that must be connected and disconnected.

Commenting on the field trials, DET CRC CEO Richard Hillis said the performance of the RoXplorer was “outstanding.”

“It is a revelation to watch rapid drilling with no rotation, no one near the drill string, no rod handling and no fluids on the surface,” Hillis said in the company statement.

“Not many people see the start of a revolution in an industry and I was lucky enough to see one on the Eyre Peninsula.”

According to DET CRC, the RoXplorer will offer a “substantial” improvement in safety, as individual rods will not need to be manually handled. The technology will also offer environmental benefits, as the drilling fluids are recycled and no sump would need to be dug.

A final field trial is expected to go ahead in the next few months before the technology will reportedly be licenced by DET CRC partners.

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Thursday, 18 October, 2018 10:42pm
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