Sandvik’s Leap Towards Surface Drilling Electrification
Sandvik, a global engineering group, is actively working towards influencing the discourse around surface drilling electrification. The company’s President, Mats Eriksson, announced the launch of Sandvik’s latest battery-electric concept surface drill rig at the Capital Markets Day in Tampere, Finland, signifying their progress in modern mining technology.
Sandvik, capitalizing on the abundance of “good rock”, is preparing to trial all boom and rotary drill rigs, particularly those up to the DR413 classification, aiming to advance progress in existing and new surface mining.
The Sandvik Test Mine, currently being prepared for trials, will also serve as a platform for demonstrations on automation and electrification in the mining industry.
Customer trials are planned for the upcoming year, following the completion of internal testing. These trials will provide real-world experience and feedback about the equipment’s performance.
We are showing what technology can do today.
-Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
At the Capital Markets Day in Tampere, Finland, last week, Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, gave an account of the launch of Sandvik’s most recent battery-electric concept surface drill rig.
The use of this rig showcases not only Sandvik’s progress in the development of modern mining technology, but also their ambition to become the premier provider of surface drilling solutions.
Four years ago, Sandvik announced a plan to do something and since then they have made considerable advances towards its realization.
For the three-year period between 2019 and 2022, Sandvik witnessed a 100% increase in the orders of its rotary drills. To further its autonomous drilling operations, the company launched the Leopard™ DI650i DTH drill rig and was subsequently awarded major autonomous drilling contracts in Latin America, Australia, and Finland.
The Original Equipment Manufacturer is expecting to raise their revenue from surface mining at least twofold from the year 2022 to 2028. Agreements with Boliden and MACA in 2023 have already provided a good start in helping to achieve this aim.
Sandvik has the capability to gain an advantage over their rivals in this area, as those companies have already automated the largest blasthole drills in prominent regions such as the Americas and Australia, by taking advantage of the know-how they have gained in underground electrification.
Sandvik has created the first vehicle of its size that can bore holes as wide as 229 mm in diameter with a mix of the battery’s autonomy and the unending energy of a power cable.
Sandvik research has revealed that this rig has a battery with enough energy to allow for either seven hours of tramming or one hour of drilling. In addition, an electrical connection can be established through a 37-mm in diameter, 180-m-long tethered cable, granting flexibility and optionality.
At the Sandvik Capital Markets Day event last week, Lauri Laihanen, the Vice President of R&D at the Surface Drilling Division of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, articulated that the primary advantage of the battery-electric solution is its capacity to autonomously move around for up to seven hours.
After drilling a section of the pit, the rig can be disconnected from the cable and independently trammed away if there is a need to move it. Without requiring a recharge, the rig can be brought back when it is time to perform the next drilling sequence following the blasting and explosives loading process.
Virrankoski, leader of the Surface Drilling Division, remarked: “The utilization of these drills is distinct from rotary drills. To an extent, they are employed in production drilling yet in a more dynamic fashion – for instance, executing pre-splits or blasthole designs on more diminutive benches.
Considering the extra flexibility and cable management requirements, they must take a more agile approach.
According to Laihanen, they could also take advantage of the situation during “black outs” by continuing to drill or tram. On mine sites where cable-electric equipment is already installed, it is possible to connect the rig to the grid after diesel-electric blasthole drills and cable shovels have been set in motion, in order to prevent power surges.
Customers who have already embraced electrification on the surface and set up the necessary infrastructure can start utilising this rig for drilling and tramming with the addition of a single transformer to reduce the voltage level that their larger pieces of equipment use, the speaker noted.
Sandvik is demonstrating a switch to electrification in the surface mining industry through this kind of more practical than theoretical discussion.
Having first presented an electric concept rig, derived from a diminutive top hammer drill rig designed for urban building, just over twelve months ago, the comprehension of what is required to electrify these large rigs has advanced significantly.
Laihanen noted the importance of comprehending the framework of the drilling portfolio from the bottom to the top from a technological improvement and demonstration perspective. This allows for the monitoring of customer requirements and the finalizing of the productization plan to reach the 2030 ambition of having an electrified solution for the entire range.
Eriksson states that the corporation is sure of their capacity to deliver electrified surface drilling equipment across their variety by the year 2030, with Sandvik’s further progress in the electrification of subterranean mines providing stimulation for this.
At the Capital Markets Day, it is worth mentioning the data that was generated from the underground load and haul division.
Brian Huff, the Vice President of New Technologies for the Load and Haul Division at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, noted that the firm had achieved success in more than 75% of the tenders they had been engaged in from the start of the year until October. In addition, he reported that over 15% of the company’s load and haul order intake was made up of battery-electric equipment.
The sales of the company’s underground battery-electric drills, which have been available to the public since 2016, can be factored into these numbers.
During our recent visit to Tampere, we observed the significance of the Test Mine operated by the company, as it is in the process of increasing its underground battery-electric population. This was followed by the Sandvik Test Pit announcement, placed 40 km away, which is a reflection of the firm’s determination to become a major player in open-pit drilling.
According to Virrankoski, the Test Mine has been essential in enabling their successes underground. It has made it possible to test and refine not only the drill rigs, but also tooling, digital tools, automation, and rock drills.
It was obvious roughly four years ago that a function similar to this was needed for surface-level operations.
The selection of this spot outside of Tampere was based on the abundance of “good rock”, the capacity to trial all boom and rotary drill rigs, up to the DR413 classification, plus providing customers with demonstrations on automation and electrification. Furthermore, the Test Mine can be used to gain knowledge and develop surface drilling, and Sandvik engineers are able to further their progress in existing and new surface mining.
By utilizing a drilling plan, the Sandvik Test Pit, a former quarry, will be readied for use.
The facility, which is still in the process of being prepared for trials, currently has several boom and rotary rigs on the premises, with a novel electric prototype rig anticipated to be added shortly.
Laihanen mentioned that the subsequent step is to initiate trials with customers in the upcoming year. He indicated there have been early talks with a few clients, however they have to complete their own internal testing before they can confirm the customer trials.
The company’s focus on surface mining is a testament to the potential it has to influence the dialogue about battery-powered equipment in the surface drilling industry.
According to Laihanen, having a physical sample is vital when communicating with customers. Having an example in hand simplifies the dialogue about functions and boundaries, raising it to a higher plane.
According to Virrankoski, this will spark a discussion about the upkeep processes, knowledge requirements, and service delivery models.
Playing in a real-world sandbox with a machine is much unlike demonstrating a virtual model on a display.
Sandvik has established itself as a leader in surface drilling. Now it will be up to the market to decide if this is the path it wishes to pursue.
It is universally acknowledged that the use of technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. From the way we communicate to the way we work, technology has had an immense impact on every aspect of our lives. It is so pervasive that it is hard to imagine life without it.