Equipment supplier Epiroc recently delivered three FlexiROC D65 surface drill rigs to Northern Cape-based drilling specialists Booysen Bore.
The delivery has increased Booysen Bore’s total drilling machine fleet to 51, while the addition of the new machines has strengthened the relationship between Booysen Bore and Epiroc, a wholly owned subsidiary of sustainable productivity solutions provider Atlas Copco Group.
Epiroc evolved from the global split in January of Atlas Copco into two separate companies and comprises the Mining & Rock Excavation Technique Business Area and Construction Tools division to focus on the mining and civil engineering sectors.
Booysen Bore rents out drilling machines to the opencast mining exploration sector in the Northern Cape, with the drilling machines used for diamond core exploration drilling, reverse circulation drilling for fill-in exploration, resource drilling, as well as for grade control purposes.
The company is active mainly in providing services to the province’s opencast iron-ore and manganese mines, and holds a sizable market share in the supply of drilling services to the solar energy facilities in the region. Of the 51 ROC L8, D60 and D65 machines, 38 are currently in operation.
The company now operates three generations of surface drill rigs, the ROC L8 mark (MK) 1 and ROC L8 MK 2, supplied by Atlas Copco, and the new FlexiROC D65 machines from Epiroc.
Booysen Bore purchased its first FlexiROC D65s in 2013, which has drilled more than 500 000 300-mm-diameter holes for nine Northern Cape solar farms and a large number of blast hole metres in the Northern Cape for surface mines. The company’s fleet also includes a SmartROC D65 for blast-hole drilling, as well as a few CS14 and CS1500 core drilling machines.
“Mobility, flexibility, reliability, efficiency and precision drilling capacity define Epiroc’s ROC family of drilling machines, making them the most suitable and up for the task,” states Booysen Bore Sishen GM Pieter Malan.
He adds that the company is impressed by the fact that, when new ideas were raised, Atlas Copco and Epiroc listened and responded to the requirements in the development of the machines, which resulted in the ROC family becoming the preferred drill rigs for Booysen Bore.
Malan explains that the Northern Cape area presents some of the most challenging conditions in the world, as the company drills into some of the hardest rock in the world.
“With compressive strengths above 500 MPa under extreme surface and weather conditions, these drilling machines take a significant hammering. While most machines start to fall apart after only a short time of drilling, the Epiroc drill rigs give us up to 80% availability over many years of operation,” Malan says.
He adds that only machines of this quality will last for more than 30 000 hours. Further, the ROC hosts the lowest fuel consumption per drilled metre, compared with all other machines used by Booysen Bore in the blast-hole environment.
Malan highlights that developments at Booysen Bore prompted the company to replace all its MK 1 machines, which, at one stage totalled 16, to MK 2 units, when the machines reached the end of their life span. He also notes Atlas Copco’s assistance with the conversion of a ROC10 MK 2 to a reverse circulation machine for exploration drilling.
Developments made to the machines include a lighter tower, the replacement of steel feed with stronger and lighter aluminium feed, improvements to the air system, changes to the cooling system and break out table, an improved engine uptake, as well as a stronger compressor.
Booysen Bore was also impressed with the ROC L8’s performance during tests and decided to keep the machine for blast-hole drilling on the mine and to systematically replace all their non-Atlas Copco drill rigs at the end of their life cycle with ROC L8s.
Epiroc surface and exploration drilling business line manager Hedley Birnie further acknowledges Booysen Bore’s fundamental role in the joint development of the machines from the ROC L8 MK 1 up to the FlexiROC D65.
Booysen Bore Beeshoek GM Hein Booysen explains that the latest FlexiROC D65’s automation capability is a function of productivity and safety. “Alongside manoeuvrability, automatic alignment further contributes to penetration rate, as set-up time between holes is substantially shortened.”
According to Booysen Bore, the latest FlexiROC D65 crawler rig “sets the benchmark in down-the-hole (DTH) drilling, delivering a balance between productivity and efficiency to provide a complete drilling solution”. With hole diameters of between 110 mm to 203 mm, the rugged multifunctional machine is able to handle a vast amount of drilling angles and delivers smooth holes with sufficient air to keep the hole clean for easy charging.
Meanwhile, the high efficiency of the DTH hammer relies on its precisely matched compressor capacity.
Owing to its low weight, the rig can be transported across mine areas on a low bed without requiring an escort, which speeds up productivity. The rig further contains a rollover protection structure and the falling object protection systems-approved cabin, which has been designed around the operator and provides the operator with full control and increased visibility of drilling activities.
The satellite navigation system capability facilitates machine location and the compatibility of the D65’s computerised management system with most mine and fleet management systems is another key feature.
“Epiroc remains committed to growing this longstanding partnership through continued close collaboration with Booysen Bore,” says Birnie.