NATIONAL drilling contractor Rock Engineering has set a new industry benchmark by selecting a Sandvik T600 DTH drill to achieve higher standards of accuracy in the drilling of pre-split holes at the Mount Keith open-cut nickel operation, 720 km north east of Perth.
The crawler-mounted rig, the first to be purchased in Australia, was selected primarily on the basis of its capacity to drill 203 mm and 165 mm holes with a degree of speed and accuracy not currently achieved by rigs in its class.
Rock Engineering’s project manager, John Ivanovski, said if the T600 had not been available, Rock would have had to invest in a larger class of rig, which would have had a substantial adverse impact on the drilling cost per metre.
“We were actually alerted to the T600 a couple of years ago, before it became available in Australia,” said John.
“We hired a European model to put it through its paces, but although the drilling performance was impressive, the rig struggled in the heat.
“To Sandvik’s credit they set up a stringent R&D program to adapt it for use in high temperatures and our tough outback conditions, and the local model has scrubbed up really well.
“What we’ve got here is a medium-sized DTH drill that has the grunt to produce larger diameter holes that would normally require a bigger – and more expensive – rig.
“It’s a solid, sturdy, well-built machine and, importantly in these resource boom days, we were actually able to get one when we wanted one, which is another important consideration.”
SMC account manager Graham Shipster said that the T600’s low centre of gravity made the rig safe and stable in rough terrain.
The 1000cfm/350 psi air package gave the rig the grunt it required to keep the Mission 6 hammer producing at maximum power and penetration in tough drilling conditions.
“Another key feature is two-speed tramming, with a top speed of 3.5 km/h. And, despite the drill’s big-league performance, it checks in with a transportation height of only 3.3 m, meaning contractors can move it around without an “over size” load permit,” said Graham.