Diamond Drilling is an essential part of the exploration and definition of an ore body for precise mining. The ability to extract intact core rock samples from below current mining fronts allows for better interpretation of a project’s local geology. The delivery of this service is covered by several large players, who often have global footprints. In recent years the drill rigs have become much more maneuverable and smaller in size – almost looking like a jumbo rig to the untrained eye!
The move to electrification of underground mobile plant has been building momentum, as reported often on this website. Therefore, it is great to see that local Perth drilling contractor Swick are going to be trialing their new Gen3 E-Rig this month here in Western Australia! The drill rig will be the first commercialised fully electric diamond drill rig for use in an underground environment, and is expected to be fully field tested and available for underground campaigns by mid-2022. This machine will not only reduce the diesel emissions in the underground environment, but it will also improve drilling rates.
This is due to the development of the Swick Remote Control Drilling (RCD) innovation that will allow for drillers to complete automated drilling via video link. Controlled by a surface unit,this will further improve drill utilisation times (think avoiding shift change/re-entry process), as well as reduce manual handling requirements from drillers and their offsiders. The RCD system consists of three main parts which deliver automated drilling, high speed communications to surface and semi-automated robotic handling of tubes and rods.
“These new solutions will set a new benchmark for best practice drilling and will provide Swick with a significant competitive advantage and meet the changing demands of the industry.”Mr Kent Swick, Swick ASX release
Swick has dabbled with new mining technology, as well as delivering their main business in diamond drilling services and personnel provision over the past few years. It purchased and further developed the Orexplore portable X-ray mineral scanning system ready for commercial trials. The system could revolutionise the mining geological process by enabling significantly better interpretation and visibility at the drill site; delivering clear value if geologists can better interpret drill returns in near real time. Swick is now in the process of divesting this arm of the business into a standalone company.
With Swick now ramping up its drill manufacturing business with the development of the “Future of Drilling” department and Gen3 E-Rig, it is well placed to spread its revenue streams into emerging mining technology. This should be a big win for local manufacturing and product development here in Perth – I will keep readers updated of any further trial feedback and launch news.
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.