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2020 / 2021 Edition

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RJ Blasting choose Atlas Copco for opencast work

Atlas Copco FlexiROC D55 drill rig

RJ Blasting, the Ayrshire-based drilling contractors, have a long history of working in the demanding opencast mining industry in Scotland and the north of England, and are continually striving for increases in productivity and reliability. This has allowed them to improve their turnover from 1.5 million cubic metres when they started in 1986, to 25 million cubic metres today. According to Andy Canavan, managing director and owner of RJ Blasting along with his co-director Ian MacDonald, this has been achieved by forward thinking within the company in order to find the best solutions to the testing environment of opencast mining.

The most dynamic change came 11 years ago when faced with the prospect of removal from a UK Coal site due to unreliable drilling. Mr Canavan explained: ‘I had seen an Atlas Copco ROC L8 (current model name FlexiROC D60) on demo and realized that, even with its impressive 6m drill steel, I could add an additional 1m drill pipe, allowing a 7m single pass. That meant that we could work at optimum drilling depths for the drag link on the cuts as well as for the dig for the primary movers on all our coal sites.’

The changing face of the opencast mining industry has made speed, reliability and availability of drilling machines even more vital in order to keep ahead of the primary movers in the mines, particularly with the greater digging rates and larger muck-shifting capacities now achievable. Moreover, sites that previously operated for just one or two years are today operating for six years as standard, without extended permission, making machines work longer and harder.

In order for the drilling to keep ahead, contractors must have equipment to keep productivity and availability at the highest possible level, which is reflected in RJ Blasting having the largest fleet of new D-series FlexiROC rigs in Europe – two FlexiROC D50 machines, one D55 and 10 D60 units.

Mr Canavan says he is ‘totally committed’ to Atlas Copco because his company achieves in excess of 90% availability and receives very good back-up through its service contracts. He also believes the positive working relationship he has with Atlas Copco means the future of RJ Blasting is looking even stronger today. ‘We are looking forward to 2013 and working with our key clients to give them the service they have come to expect,’ he said.

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