Engineering & Mining Journal

MAR 2017

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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SURFACE DRILLING MARCH 2017 • E&MJ 29 well as some copper and strip coal appli- cations," he said. Also unveiled in Vegas, but as a con- cept design, the Pit Viper 275 CA, a fully autonomous and cabless blasthole drill, features the company's proven CAN-BUS Rig Control System (RCS), which enables the miner to operate the drill from an of- fice. "We can put that machine out in the field today," Inge said. "That is our confi- dence level in autonomous drilling." To maneuver it for maintenance, the drill is equipped with a terminal with an RCS display, controls, stool and table. The location of the terminal wiring makes it simple to select a cab or terminal without sacrificing lead time, the company report- ed. This enables a miner to remove the cab, if needed. RCS components, such as GPS radios, network hardware and the Common Communication Interface data platform are located in a lit ground-level cabinet. The rig also features a boarding safety system, a high precision GPS sys- tem, spinning lasers for obstacle detection and a personnel detection system. The PV-275 can drill to depths of 195 ft (59.4 m), with hole diameter sizes at 6.75 to 10.63 in. (171 to 270 mm). Key to enabling control from an office at a distance of up to 1 kilometer (km) from the site, Atlas Copco's BenchRE- MOTE system, empowered by the com- pany's patented Autodrill and Auto Rod Change programs, reportedly provides a 10% increase in utilization benefits. "An operator can control one or more ma- chines," Inge said. "What they are doing is supervising or overseeing the process. Rather than one machine per operator, you could potentially have one operator focus on two or three machines. We actu- ally are doing that in the field." Autonomous drilling benefits the min- er "through efficiency, productivity and safety," he said. "We try to start every discussion around automation with the problem statement. What problem is the customer trying to solve? Sometimes it is all three of those. But usually there is one or two that really stick out in the custom- er's mind." Regarding productivity, often the problem statement centers on a desire for greater predictability. "Drilling is at the beginning of the mining process," Inge said. To build plans, miners want to know the rig's availability. "They are go- ing to optimize their fleet, their trucks, their shovels, their blasting, all of that based on what the drill is able to do," he said. "If the drill goes down, that process breaks. We have to make sure it is rugged and reliable. It is that first gateway into producing more." Thus far, the CA technology has prov- en itself in field tests. "The mine with At- las Copco autonomous drills has seen a 30% increase in productivity," Inge said. "They've also seen an increase in bit life, an increase in availability and utilization, energy savings, and the drill that they have is on the 271." Last July, E&MJ re- ported that BHP Billiton tested two auton- omous PV-271s at the Yandi mine for a to- tal of 15,000 hours. 1 The miner reported that the automated rigs were 16% faster per hole, had 20% additional utilization, and one-third extra drill capacity. As a result, the company ordered autonomous upgrade packages for 18 drill rigs for a staged rollout to be completed this sum- mer at five iron ore mines in the Pilbara. Atlas Copco provides training and ser- vice to facilitate a swift transition from on-rig to remote control, sometimes oc- curring in as little as a week. For its electric over hydraulic con- trolled rotary blasthole rigs, Atlas Copco showcased the RCS Lite at MINExpo. For the DM30 II, DM45, DML, DM-75 and DM-M3 rigs, and offered as part of three packages, the system supports touch screen displays and cab-mounted user interfaces, and gives operators data needed to improve efficiency for higher quality holes, the company reported. The BASIC system package offering features the AutoLevel functionality. The CON- NECTED system package includes that and wireless connectivity through WLAN. It features the SurfaceManager software for managing and reporting drill perfor- mance. For maintenance and monitor- ing, it features the Desktop Viewer, pro- viding a remote read-only connection to the rig for troubleshooting. The TOTAL package features the aforementioned, plus a high-precision GPS functionality. The package enables miners to wirelessly send drill patterns and receive data from the drill, the company reported. A geo- fence creation functionality is included. The RCS offerings reflect the com- pany's commitment to completing each crucial stage of development on the path to full automation, Inge said. "That's why you see our drills in the field drilling au- tonomously today," he said. "We've done that due diligence. We've done that long process so it is making sure our systems are rugged enough so there is no weak link in the process." Satellite Guidance Cuts Costs Caterpillar showcased at MINExpo the MD6420C Rotary Drill, which can drill holes up to 311 mm (12.25 in.) in diam- eter and down to 74.3 m (244 ft) deep, the company reported. Designed for a long service life and high production at the lowest total cost, it features an applica- tion-matched power train, advanced con- trol systems and an optional automation system. "The MD6420C with computer controls drives lower total cost of owner- ship than a conventional drill," Greg Scott, application specialist, said. "Even drillers that initially reject the technology, find the machine offers them advantages in safety, ergonomics and productivity that are just unachievable with earlier models." The rig is mounted on a Cat excavator undercarriage with three-point oscillating 1 Fiscor, S. (July 2016). Advances With Large Rotary Blasthole Drills. 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