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Manufacturer accelerates autonomous drills transformation

Two autonomous drill rigs owned by Epiroc on the surface of a mine

GOING GLOBAL Epiroc’s autonomous drill rigs have successfully drilled the equivalent length of the circumference of the world

21st April 2023

     

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Mining and infrastructure equipment manufacturer Epiroc says it is continuously accelerating the transformation of the mining industry towards lower emissions, improved safety, and higher productivity.

Epiroc is reported to be a leading productivity and sustainability partner for the mining and infrastructure industries.

The company says its autonomous drill rigs have now achieved another milestone: they have successfully drilled the equivalent length of the circumference of the world.

Epiroc’s drill rigs, used by mining and construction customers across the world, are increasingly operated autonomously.

The company’s Pit Viper surface drill rigs have now drilled holes totalling more than 41-million metres, exceeding the world’s circumference of 40.1-million metres.

The societal benefits generated so far are significant, including a reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) emissions of more than 100 000 t.

An equivalent in effect would be to plant a new forest the size of the Swedish capital. The reduction in CO2-e emissions is achieved through increased efficiency of autonomous drilling, higher-precision drilling and significantly less need to travel to the rigs.

Similarly, Epiroc’s autonomous underground rigs, such as the Simba production drill rigs, are increasingly being used by customers.

One of Epiroc’s mining customers has drilled more than a million metres autonomously underground using a single Simba rig.

In addition to lower emissions, other benefits of autonomous drilling include a safer and more comfortable work environment for operators, as well as higher productivity.

“Our autonomous drilling solutions are one example of how we are accelerating the transformation towards a more sustainable future,” says Epiroc president and CEO Helena Hedblom.

“We have a rigorous innovation agenda, also within digitalisation and electrification, to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact, while increasing safety and productivity.”

Minerals such as copper and nickel are key to society’s transformation towards a more sustainable future as they are needed in electric car batteries, solar panels, and other renewable-energy technologies.

A report by the International Energy Agency concluded that, if the world is to meet net zero as a global goal, the demand for clean-technology minerals, including copper and nickel, will increase significantly in the coming years.

Epiroc has launched several initiatives to support the industry to extract these minerals in the most sustainable and efficient way possible.

For example, Epiroc is working towards offering its complete fleet of underground mining equipment in emission-free versions by 2025, and its full fleet of surface equipment in emission-free versions by 2030.

Another example is the partnership with Swedish steelmaker SSAB, which began in 2022, to produce mining equipment using fossil-free steel.

Epiroc also supports the transition towards a circular economy by providing equipment and services that enable the recycling and reuse of materials.

For example, Epiroc's hydraulic attachment tools are used by the construction industry to process concrete, asphalt, and other materials on site, reducing waste and improving resource efficiency.

In 2021, Epiroc received validation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for the 2030 targets to halve its CO2-e emissions in its own operations as well as from the use of sold products.

The SBTi validated Epiroc’s climate targets as being in line with keeping global warming at a maximum 1.5 ºC above preindustrial levels, consistent with the latest climate science and the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Hedblom says that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and Epiroc believes it is its responsibility as a global industry leader to accelerate the transformation towards a more sustainable future.

“We are looking forward to continue supporting our customers, and society, on this journey,” she concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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