Remote bogging & drilling are moving into the next era of digitalisation at underground mining projects. The major OEMs now have fully integrated systems for remotely and semi autonomously operating most underground machines. That said, for those with older fleets still in service there are options to improve efficiencies and tracking of production.
For example, at my current project we have a dedicated room where there is often an operator tramming machines or drilling a few extra meters with the longhole rigs at shift change time. All from the comfort of an office around 1500 vertical meters above the operating levels. These small advancements all add up and increase the productivity levels of a mine by utilising equipment during firing times.
OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have linked their equipment with impressive new technologies that allow activities to continue remotely. Originally when I started in underground mining back in 2015 this was done via a teleremote car that would travel to the active bogging area. This has now been superseded by a wifi network throughout the underground mine and a surface based remote operating room.
With newer drill rigs there is now the ability for them to be remotely operated. This has been been made possible with fully integrated software and hardware systems. This requires the very latest jumbo or longhole rigs with suitable wifi networks for data exchange. These rigs have many added features including drill bit changers, boom collision avoidance systems and ensuring designed drill steel trajectory is achieved.
For those who may be utilising older generation machines that still have plenty of hours of service there is a way of bringing your machines toward the automated age. The team at Minnovare have been having great success with their retrofitted tablet-based systems, which work on most vintages of development and productions rigs. This allows some of the major benefits of newer generation rigs but without the automation play added just yet.
The system and software are easily fitted to the drilling rig to ensure optimal drill string accuracy is achieved. This can be for either jumbo (horizontal mining) or long hole rigs (vertical mining). Therefore, reducing blast hole deviation and increasing the efficiencies in drill and blast performance. Alignment can be periodically cross referenced and checked by the survey team once installed on to the rigs.
It’s an exciting time for the underground sector as the digital world starts to reach the underground mining face. This is just the start of ongoing change in the sector and it will be interesting to see this push to automation and project transparency will advance and be adopted across the whole industry.
If you like my content and discussions on underground mining, please follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook. I continually strive to offer new and interesting content for those exploring new technologies and ideas for underground mining – so please send me an email if you would like to get involved.