By Kim Kemp
By investing heavily in R&D, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Southern Africa is seeking new ways to lift production and lower costs in the mining sector, enabling them to deliver products and equipment that meet and exceed the sector’s needs.
As the industry increasingly demands technologically advanced ‘intelligent’ equipment, OEM Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology recently revealed its first intelligent down-the-hole (DTH) surface drill rig: The Leopard DI650i, designed for larger hole sizes.
Designed for DTH blasthole drilling, the Leopard DI650i is intended for demanding high-capacity production drilling applications in surface mining, as well as large-scale quarry applications. The Leopard is a diesel-powered, self-contained crawler-mounted drilling rig, equipped with an operator’s cabin, fixed boom, dry dust collector and drill pipe changer, and incorporates a cutting-edge design and layout.
“It is good to note that the Leopard DI650i has scalable automation, which means that clients can customise it to meet their immediate needs and expand existing equipment capability with additional functionality as the need arises.” – Rumisha Motilal, Sandvik
Rumisha Motilal, Sandvik’s business line manager: surface drills and exploration, is effusive: “Sandvik is extremely excited to introduce the first intelligent machine within the 115mm to 203mm range of down-the-hole surface drill equipment to industry,” she says.
Delivering a number of benefits, such as improved productivity, efficiency, and safety, as well as reduced costs, the machine is also equipped with intelligent control technology applied in both the compressor and the hydraulic system’s cooler fan, which can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15% compared with conventional DTH rigs. Leopard DI650i’s fuel efficiency is further enhanced by the flow-controlled drilling control system that eliminates fluctuations in airflow, instead allowing the pressure level to fluctuate in response to more difficult ground conditions and increased back pressure (for example, owing to groundwater or collapsing holes). This makes maximum flushing pressure and penetration rates available in the most challenging rock conditions, while still retaining the low fuel consumption of the traditional pressure control approach in easy ground conditions.
In addition, this automated product is easy to use and comes with a highly ergonomic iCAB cabin. Thanks to excellent visibility to the drilling area and a single integrated touch screen for all monitoring, diagnostics, and mining automation displays, Leopard DI650i’s silent, ergonomic iCAB cabin provides the rig operator with a safer, more productive working environment.
The standard rotary head option HTRH6 has a proven track record on current Sandvik DTH rigs. For Leopard DI650i, Sandvik also offers a new heavy-duty option MRH6, which is designed to perform in the most robust environments and larger hole sizes. It is a perfect fit for Sandvik’s new powerful RH560-series DTH hammers.
The maintenance crew can carry out all daily servicing tasks at ground level on both sides of the machine. The advanced serviceability and reliability features can increase Leopard DI650i’s availability by up to 20% compared with conventional DTH rigs at a similar technology level.
The product has been developed at Sandvik’s Finland Tampere branch, which produces all Sandvik’s top hammer drill rigs — including the DPi1500 range, a market leader in terms of top hammer drills, Ranger DX800, DX900, and the Leopard DI550.
To produce this intelligent drill, Sandvik collaborated closely with Aveng Moolmans.
Motilal adds, “We have conducted trials in Europe where the DI650i has exceeded the benchmark criteria against the competition. Therefore, we are excited to see how this machine will perform on site with Aveng Moolmans, one of the largest surface mining contractors in Africa.”
Given the solid relationship between the two parties, spanning over 20 years, they were keen to partner to embrace the latest technology journey. Following product development, Aveng Moolmans purchased the first DI650i drill rig for use at its Gamsberg operation in the Northern Cape.
Initially launched at Electra Mining — Africa’s key mining and construction equipment event which showcases the latest cutting-edge innovations and technologies in machinery, equipment, products, consumables, services, and solutions — the DI650i will be showcased to Sandvik’s customers at a roadshow in Kathu, Northern Cape.
Though, with Africa often viewed as somewhat ‘behind the curve’, is the continent ready for a smart drill rig and, despite an eagerness to acquire the latest autonomous drill rig, are customers really set up and ready to embrace it? Motilal believes that many mines are; she explains: “It is good to note that the Leopard DI650i has scalable automation, which means that clients can customise it to meet their immediate needs and expand existing equipment capability with additional functionality as the need arises.”
“In essence, a client can, with just a click of a button, accurately drill as per requirement.” – Rumisha Motilal, Sandvik
The latest on-board options include TIM3D drill navigation with wireless data transfer, My Sandvik fleet monitoring system, and full-cycle drilling automatics, which merge functionalities such as uncoupling, feed auto aligning, and feed auto positioning into a single efficient sequence.
These capabilities can be further upgraded with more advanced modules such as single-rig or fleet remote control systems by Automine® Surface Drilling.
Motilal continues that from an operator perspective, operators have taken well to Sandvik’s drilling product range, and she states with conviction, “Once they become accustomed to using the product, it becomes their equipment of choice.” The new-generation machine is appealing to experienced operators and youngsters accustomed to the use of joysticks as used on PlayStations.
In addition, all Sandvik’s automation platforms have a similar set-up; therefore, operating various pieces of equipment in the range is seamless, making the training of operators on newer equipment easy, she adds.
Pipe sizes range from 89 to 140 millimetres, depending on the size of the hammer. The maximum hole depth is 53.6 metres when utilising the carousel option with pipe sizes from 89 to 114mm. The capacity range of 403kW Tier 3 CAT C15 diesel engine and reliable compressor is adequate for high-pressure drilling with 4-6.5-inch DTH hammer sizes.
According to Motilal, the intelligent drill rig with full cycle one-hole drilling automatics can be equipped with a wireless data transfer option, which offers the possibility to download and transfer drill patterns from the mine to the machine and back. Alternatively, the information can be extracted and saved onto a USB.
“This offers the client a platform to access information from various locations in real-time, which assists with ensuring accuracy as related to size, depth, and drill hole interval. Editing tools also make it possible to design each hole individually. In essence, a client can, with just a click of a button, accurately drill as per requirement,” says Motilal.
|Recommended hole diameter||115–203mm|
|Drill rod / tube diameter||89, 102, 114, 127 and 140mm*|
|DTH hammer||4, 5, and 6 in. (Sandvik RH460 and RH560)|
|Rotary head||HTRH6, MRH6 (heavy-duty option)|
|Engine type||Caterpillar C15|
|Engine output power||403kW /1800rpm (Tier 3)|
|Flushing air capacity||28.8m³/min, at 24 bar working pressure up to 30 bar|
|Certificate||ROPS and FOPS|
|Production capacity||2.1Mt/a, one shift|
|Weight approx.||25 100kg|
*Available only with MRH6 rotary head