Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

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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www.e-mj.com E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 87 MINING IN PERU Drilling services Exploration was probably the segment that suffered the most during the crisis because the level of activity was drastically reduced or, in some cases, stopped altogether. Jorge Granda, general manager of AK Drilling International, a contractor with a fleet of 25 machines in Peru and operations in seven countries, explained that the low volume of work available and high pressure on drilling rates made the downturn a difficult period to adapt to: "During the crisis, the procurement specialists within the mining companies were empowered to take many deci- sions about which contractors to use. This always happens during the low cycles. Seeing the drilling service as a commodity means that you will only pay attention to the final price, and this is shoot- ing yourself in the foot." Geotec, another drilling contractor, has seen a positive trend in the market and doubled its sales in 2017. Recent drilling cam- paigns by the larger mining operators are prompting contractors to invest in automation and new technologies related to safety. Geo- tec's general manager, Miguel Ángel Arenas, said: "We increasingly see clients ready to pay more for safety and new technology. In Las Bambas, we incorporated seven hands-free rod handlers, so the whole drilling campaign was hands-free. This year we won a contract to introduce intelligent machines for rod handling in under- ground mining. It is the first hands-free diamond drilling campaign for underground mining in Peru." Arenas highlighted that some mining companies are willing to engage in long-term drilling contracts, like the three-year assign- ment Geotec has at Yanacocha, because they know the drilling rates will increase very soon. Asked about the investment required to incorporate the hands-free rod handlers, he explained: "If you include the training required, a hands-free rod handler for a sur- face drilling rig can cost US$450,000, while a brand-new drill- ing machine costs US$600,000. Not all clients are willing to pay substantially more for their drilling, but for us this amount needs to be seen as a long-term investment where we are also improving productivity, efficiency, and safety." Granda of AK Drilling affirmed that the introduction of these new technologies, however, should not be seen as a 'one-size-fits- all': "At AK Drilling we were one of the first contractors to use these technologies for an oil and gas project in Colombia. In the oil and gas industry, you spend months on the platform and each pipe weighs half a ton. In mining exploration, the rods weigh 35 kilograms, and you are on a platform for just a couple of weeks. In mining, you need an agile setup and competitive costs [...] At the end of the day, it is the end user who needs to decide what is best for each particular project." New blasting technologies If 2017 could be seen as light at the end of the tunnel for exploration- related companies, the blasting market remained tight with the arriv- al of new competitors and a continued focus on cost reductions and productivity. For Exsa, one of Peru's main rock fragmentation com- panies, innovation was instrumental to ensure the company's strong positioning in the open pit segment, where it has a 45% partici- pation. Through the introduction of the Quantex technology, clients obtained cost reductions of 30% in the blasting process and 80% reductions in CO2 emissions, according to Gustavo Gómez Sánchez, the firm's general manager. Gómez Sánchez highlighted that the second half of 2017 allowed for an increase of work volumes but that the higher price of ammo- nium nitrate presented some challenges as well. Moving forward, Exsa will continue expanding its scope, offering specialized blasting Jorge Granda, general manager, AK Drilling International. Gustavo Gómez Sánchez, general manager, Exsa. Benedikt Kirchgässler, CEO and founder, CyanoGuard.

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