• To the point

    To the point

    In South Africa, two rock-drill prototypes are being prepared to prove their mettle in deep-level mines as part of an initiative to enhance drilling operations and ensure safer practices across the sector.

    The prototypes have been developed by Novatek and HPE, both finalists in the Mandela Mining Precinct’s Isidingo Drill Design Challenge. The companies specialise in hydropowered mining solutions.

    The completed prototypes mark the end of the second part of the three-phase challenge, which was set to improve the efficiency, health and safety of drilling operations in the overall mining cycle.

    The prototypes are required to meet four key criteria, namely they must weigh less than 16 kg; their power source cannot be compressed air; the designs must incorporate parallelism of drilled holes; and the drills have to be able to be set up in less than 15 minutes, and dismantled within the same amount of time. Other considerations include thrust, noise and the operator involved.

    Novatek and HPE’s prototypes are undergoing initial testing at the Mandela Mining Precinct, in Johannesburg, after which they’ll enter the third and final stage of the challenge – in-field trials.

    ‘The [initial] tests successfully illustrate both companies’ adherence to the primary criteria of enhancing the performance of the drill, reducing the exposure of operators to dangerous conditions and contributing to zero harm,’ says Martin Pretorius, Mandela Mining Precinct programme manager. ‘The underground testing will take place at a mine to be announced closer to the time.’

    26 November 2019
    Image: CSIR