BHP to automate its WA iron blasthole drill fleet

Atlas Copco is providing BHP 18 autonomous upgrade packages to convert their fleet of Pit Viper 271 rotary blasthole rigs throughout their WA iron ore operations.

The contract includes repair work and audits associated with installation, as well as the provision of training, on site service, and support.

Twenty autonomous PV-271 drills will initially be controlled at five of BHP’s iron ore mines in the Pilbara, with the long term goal of having remote operation from Perth’s Integrated Remote Operation Centre.

BHP has been trialling Atlas Copco’s Autonomous Technology on its PV-271 blasthole rigs for the past two years at its Yandi iron ore mine; operating autonomously for more than 15,000 hours and drilling more than one million meters.

Earlier this month, it began planning for a new operation to potentially replace its aging Yandi mine, conducting scoping studies for a new mine at its Area C project.

Atlas Copco Australia’s business line manager for Drilling Solutions said the success of the trial and performance improvements have contributed to the order.

The technology is a modulated automation system that can be adapted from semi-autonomous teleremote to fully autonomous operation depending on the mining operational requirement. It can be adapted across all of Atlas Copco’s Rig Control System (RCS) based Pit Viper blasthole rigs and is a common platform across all Atlas Copco mining equipment.