Latest drill rig might be the most efficient yet: Atlas Copco

Image: Atlas Copco

Mining equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco believes the new SmartROC CL might be the most efficient surface drill rig it has ever built, providing Australian mining companies with potential to lower costs and lift productivity.

Despite company goals and expectations for the drill rig being high, Atlas Copco said testing showed that the SmartROC CL would “become a rig with impressive qualities.”

Atlas Copco recently sent the SmartROC CL to eastern Finland for rigorous testing in tough conditions, both in terms of the work environment and drilling conditions.

The test site is in the Northern Hemisphere’s largest source of apatite, a mineral that defines the rank of five-of-10 on the Mohs hardness scale, according to the company.

Mattias Hjerpe, Atlas Copco’s product manager for the SmartROC CL and its testing, said it was crucial that field tests were tough.

“It’s when things don’t work that we can learn and make improvements. We’re really satisfied when we get performance numbers like these, despite the challenging conditions.

“It’s good to know that the results we got here can actually be even better for many of our customers.”

After an autumn of demanding operational hours in Finland, the SmartROC CL showed impressive numbers, Atlas Copco continued.

Fuel consumption was below initial targets and the SmartROC CL also demonstrated a penetration rate up to 50 per cent greater than previously attainable with conventional DTH rigs.

The average penetration rate recorded during testing reached over one metre per minute with a 165mm drill bit.

Even in harsh conditions, like in Finland, the SmartROC CL maintained an impressive production speed with low fuel consumption, Atlas Copco added.

Hjerpe said optimisation of the rig’s engine power, combined with the opportunity to utilise Atlas Copco’s COPROD drilling technique for high penetration and accuracy, made for an advantageous rig.

“Many of our mining customers who use the DTH drilling method in Australia, South Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia and other regions can now lower their fuel bills and boost their productivity at the same time,” says Hjerpe.

“Since the current economy can be hard on miners, an efficient low-fuel drill rig like the SmartROC CL will help for sure”.

Atlas Copco has previously stated that the new rigs would be shipped out globally in the current quarter, with Australian miners first in line to receive the product.