Hydro Power Equipment (HPE) supplies a number of machines for drilling applications powered by water, says director Andre Swart.
He relates that hydropower has a number of advantages, including improved visibility, which leads to improved safety.
The lower noise levels, as well as the non-use of oil also lead to improved safety conditions.
Furthermore, when mining is taking place far from the mining station, air-pressure is sometimes as low as three bar.
This hampers the effectiveness of pneumatic drills, and it is in these conditions that hydropowered equipment really comes into its own, says Swart.
In line with these advantages, HPE has developed a micro-hydropower system for conventional pneumatic mines.
The system is made up of a drillrig, a power-pack, a roof-support rig and a water-loader.
One of HPE’s stock pieces of equipment is the development-end drillrig, which was developed in conjunction with Northam Platinum.
The rig can support two or three hydropowered drills for faster development.
Swart tells Mining Weekly that the rig can be used on trackbound or trackless mines and is capable of drilling holes three metres deep.
The Northam rig is fully collapsible for ease of storage, and is towed to the face by a locomotive.
The use of the drillrig allows mines to open up new stopes and reserves more quickly, says Swart.
The roof-support rig also allows the operator to stand three metres away from the face, enhancing safety.
Further, the worker is standing under an area that has been secured previously.
The support system has a retractable mesh-steel cover that can be put over the miner, protecting him, but not interfering with his field of vision.
The power-pack is the energy source for the microrig, supplying water at a pressure of 180 bar.
The pack consists of six pumps, five operational and one standby, and eliminating stoppages should one unit fail.
The micro-system also has a water-powered rock shovel.
HPE has been involved in conceptualising and designing innovative mining solutions for over 20 years.
Currently, the company has more than 100 development-end rigs in use in gold-, platinum- and chrome-mines around South Africa.
About 120 water loaders are in service, says Swart.