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Rise in demand for blast-hole drill rig simulators

World Coal,

Blast-hole drill rigs are complex machines and vital cogs in opencast mining operations. Global training simulator provider, ThoroughTec Simulation, is seeing growing demand for its CYBERMINE simulators to help train operators of these machines. With mine site safety and productivity of paramount importance, these training simulators are vital tools in ensuring that operators know exactly how to operate rigs safely and efficiently without the mine needing to take an actual rig out of production for too long. Increased availability of the drill is vital, as it aids cost efficiencies.

Blast-hole drill rigs are complex machines and vital cogs in opencast mining operations.

“Despite advances in automation, these complex machines need a skilled operator to run safely and efficiently,” says Richard Bellengere, VP of Research and Development at ThoroughTec Simulation. “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.” 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 have catered for this by creating an artificially intelligent mine worker that works in the 3D virtual world while the operator is training in the simulated cab. 

ThoroughTec 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.

“When in the market for a blast-hole drill rig training simulator, it’s important to consider the supplier’s experience in building reliable systems, which ThoroughTec has been doing for years,” says Bellengere. “Our first blast-hole drill rig simulator was a P&H 250XPC for a diamond mine in South Africa nearly ten years ago.” Since then, the company has progressed significantly with the in-house development of blast-hole drill rig simulators and continues to be a reliable provider of these systems to mines around the world.  

Swakop Uranium’s Husab Mine in Namibia, one of the biggest uranium mining projects in the world, recently took delivery of a simulator for a CAT MD-6640 with their simulator for a MD-6290 being delivered soon. This project needs to train many novice operators for dozers, haul trucks, shovels and of course, blast-hole drill rigs. “We’re very pleased with the excellent, detailed work done by ThoroughTec,” says training manager at Swakop Uranium, Ferdy Schwartz. “They got all the drill basics right along with accurately simulating the finer details such as percussion and drill length. They did their homework.” New drill rig operators will be trained on the simulator for five weeks, in the field for five weeks and then back on the sim for five weeks. “There will also be annual refresher training to check that operators are adhering to the correct safety procedures,” says Schwartz.

In Chile, one of the world’s top ten copper projects received their Bucyrus 49HR (now CAT MD-6640) simulator earlier in 2014.

“We’re very proud of our extensive range, which is the widest available,” says Greg Lew, Executive Vice President and Director of Global Business Development. Simulated cabs from various OEMs that have been or are in the process of being developed, include ADTs, bolters (including meshing and scaling), continuous miners, dozers, draglines, excavators, graders, haul trucks, LHDs, locomotives, personnel carriers, scalers, shotcrete sprayers, shovels, shuttle cars, surface and underground drill rigs and wheel loaders. “Offering a diverse and extensive range of cabs from many of the OEMs means mine operators can get the most out of their simulators, with the safety and productivity benefits realised in the actual mining fleet,” says Lew. 

Adapted from press release by Sam Dodson

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