Modern Mining

Vedanta’s Black Mountain Mine in the Northern Cape will become the first local mine to adopt a new generation jumbo Sandvik DD422i with the new control system technology for tunnelling and blasting of a new decline shaft development.

The delivery of the automated Sandvik DD422i mining jumbo to the mine later this year once again propels it to the forefront of mining technology. According to Saltiel Pule, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s Business Line Manager – Underground Drills Southern Africa, Black Mountain has been eager to adopt new technologies for drills. The addition of the automated jumbo at the mine will deliver higher development rates and increased production.

Next generation jumbo for Black Mountain

The Sandvik DD422i mining jumbo features new control system technology.

“Black Mountain Mine was always going to be the right partner, the right cause and the right application. The rig will be breaking new ground in a defined decline development and shaping the course of the mine for the next few years. This will be a giant leap similar to the AutoMine, automated truck loop system used at Finsch mine since 2005, which has provided an incredible 12 years of automation demonstrating the technology leading role of mines in the Northern Cape,” says Pule.

“We believe that the Northern Cape is the jewel in the crown when it comes to technology and breaking ground in the South African industry. Because of its geology and remoteness, it has that something special when it comes to adapting and attracting high level technologies.”

Global trends

Pule explains that the Sandvik DD422i has the widest range of automatic drilling functions available which allows significantly improved productivity and reduced costs. This dovetails with global trends that reveal that mining houses and mining contractors are looking for more cost-effective ways to mine and develop declines effectively.

The challenges arise from Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) pressures on both the mining suppliers and the owners for lower emissions, improved ergonomics and reduced noise, while deeper orebodies pose increased environmental challenges, combined with a worldwide shortage of skilled operators. The Sandvik new generation mining jumbos and technology overcome these challenges.

While a shortage of skills may be relevant in South Africa, the use of the AutoMine platform and other technologies demonstrates that Sandvik has the skills and expertise available to address this challenge and ensure that these technologically advanced mines remain in a position to achieve production objectives.

Sandvik’s training of mine personnel to perform advanced operator functions is widely recognised as providing a competitive advantage to its clients.

New generation

“Mines are able to make use of skilled staff from Sandvik on this unit as it requires in depth training. In fact, we will support the unit from global and local resources in the initial phase and hand over to the mine at the appropriate time,” says Pule.

“We invested in career paths of our local technicians and operational facilitators within the Sandvik Training Academy to ensure operator instructors are developed into drill masters over time. This requires individuals to attain certain milestones to be recognised as competent and able to effectively undertake the job that is required at customers’ sites. Our internal talent identification process is focused on the passion that these individuals show when working on the equipment and on the technical aspects of the job. We are fortunate that we have access to many talented individuals within our entire organisation and are preparing them for next generation roles within customer mines.

“Similarly, for the new Sandvik DD422i we send our teams to Finland for training. The same training programme will then be rolled-out to mine operational teams to upskill them accordingly. Who knows, in the future we might be exporting our drill rig supervisors globally,” Pule adds.

Technical advantages

According to Pule, many of the performance characteristics are made possible directly as a result of the Sandvik DD422i machine’s integrated iSURE software for optimised drilling and blasting parameters, as it allows absolute precision in drilling, charging and blasting which leads to better pull-out with less overbreaking per blast. It also assists in achieving the critical requirement for optimum end of the hole drill patterns.

Pattern optimisation is based directly on feedback from actual blasting performance and allows improvements to be made on specific charges (kgref/m3), burden and hole spacing. This is a unique feature that is patented by Sandvik. The rig can also self-navigate to ensure the drill plan has the correct sets of holes and that each hole has two sets of x, y, z coordinates (start and end position). This corresponds with the mine’s own coordinate system that defines where tunnels, drifts and the like are located. To achieve this, the DD422i uses either drill bit navigation, laser line navigation or total station navigation.

As its classification suggests, this next generation jumbo can provide a comprehensive list of available data, including hole position, angles and rollover info, drilled metres, average penetration rate (m/min), gross penetration rate (m/h) and various time counters (boom movements, drilling in full power, collaring, idle).

Across the globe

Mine management teams from Black Mountain, accompanied by Sandvik teams, visited best practice mine sites to evaluate the new technology before introducing it into South Africa. Their findings were that apart from improved drilling ergonomics, the Sandvik DD422i has the widest range of automation functions.

The fully automated version that Black Mountain opted for has operator assistance features and fully automatic face drilling that enables it to drill the whole face automatically while handling boom movements and hole drilling automatically. Hole sequences imported from drill plans or created onboard with well-functioning hole sequences and roll-overs can be retrieved from previous rounds. While booms have self-collision avoidance, they can still be supervised by an operator.

Case studies revealed that the machine had vastly improved throughput time per face compared to standard DD421 drilling control with minimised jamming and reduced tool consumption. This has been underpinned in tests lasting 105 days that revealed that 51 000 drill metres were achieved with less jamming and major improvements in shank and rod lifecycle.

More impressive

In addition, the system maintained good penetration rates even when drilling with worn bits. The new touch screen display was said to be easy to use while the boom control system was exceptional. Another customer verified these benefits reporting improved productivity with the new drilling control system, less overbreaking with instrumented drilling plus improved safety and ergonomics.

In tests at another mine that lasted 72 days, the unit was used in a total of 210 faces with over 50 000 drill metres being achieved. With three faces per day, it matched the production target level for 2015–2016 and contributed to a record-breaking month in UG development drilling. The current record for the DD422i as of May 2017 sits at around 1 000 m per month.

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Contact Modern Mining

Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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