SIMULATED DRILLING DEMAND
AUSTRALIA’S MINING MONTHLY – FEBRUARY 2015
At least that is the experience of South African simulator maker ThoroughTec. It has noticed increased demand for its CYBERMINE simulators to help train blast-hole drill rig operators.
ThoroughTec vice-president of research and development Richard Bellengere said that despite advances in automation, the complex rigs still needed skilled operators to run them safely and efficiently.
“Besides learning how to accurately position the rig and the mast, the operator needs to know how to change rods on the carousel and drill at the right angle and pressure so the rods and drill bit don’t burn up or break,” he said.
“The operator needs to know how to change rods on the carousel and drill at the right angle and pressure so the rods and drill bit don’t burn up and break.”
Controlling the load on the rod and bit is vital. Blast-hole drill rig operators often have to work with an outside assistant and ThoroughTec has catered for this by creating an artificially intelligent mine worker that works in the three-dimensional virtual world while the operator is training in the simulated cab.
The company has developed a significant number of its CYBERMINE blast-hole drill rig simulator cabs for clients around the world over the last year. This includes five different models from three different OEMs: Atlas Copco, CAT and Sandvik. Kazakhstan’s biggest copper miner ordered a Sandvik D55SP simulator for one of their operations, while a major manganese producer in South Africa ordered two drill rig simulators: Atlas Copco Pit Viper 271 and Sandvik DR580.
Bellengere said the company’s first blast-hole drill rig simulator had been a P&H 250XPC for a diamond mine in South Africa nearly 10 years ago.” Since then the company has progressed significantly with the in-house development of blast-hole drill rig simulators.
Swakop Uranium’s Husab Mine in Namibia recently took delivery of a simulator for a CAT MD-6640 and is due to get a simulator for a MD-6290 soon. This project needs to train many novice operators for dozers, haul trucks as well as blast-hole drill rigs.
Swakop Uranium training manager Ferdy Schwartz said ThoroughTec had all the drill basics right, “along with accurately simulating the finer details such as percussion and drill length.
New drill rig operators will be trained on the simulator for five weeks, then in the field for five weeks before being put back onto the simulator for another five weeks. “There will also be annual refresher training to check that operators are adhering to the correct safety procedures,” Schwartz said.