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Phosphate mine first to adopt Top Hammer XL

Sandvik Top Hammer XL

Sandvik supply Top Hammer XL drilling technology for Tapojärvi at Yara’s Siilinjärvi open-pit mine in Finland

THE strategic alliance formed between Tapojärvi and Yara has selected Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions as the drilling technology supplier of choice for Yara’s open-pit Siilinjärvi mine. Sandvik will supply six new Pantera DP1600i drill rigs, leveraging Top Hammer XL technology.

The rigs are remotely operated by the AutoMine system and accompanied by a comprehensive package of solutions for maintenance, rock tools and OptiMine information management. The products in the delivery scope support the alliance on their digitalization and automation journey towards more productive, efficient and sustainable mining.

The Finnish mining and industrial services specialists Tapojärvi Oy are initiating a 10-year strategic alliance with Yara’s Siilinjärvi mine starting on 1 January 2022. The collaboration has begun with a two-year preparation phase, which focuses on the planning, management and development of the mining operations. The agreement covers drilling, loading and haulage operations at the mine site.

Yara are global suppliers of fertilizers, industrial chemicals and environmental solutions, and their Siilinjärvi mine produces the world’s purest phosphate for use as raw material in fertilizer. The goal of the alliance is continuous development of mining activities, and Sandvik’s new solutions will increase production sustainability by improving drilling safety, productivity and fuel efficiency – ultimately reducing emissions that are harmful for the climate.

The drilling and automation technology supplied by Sandvik will create significant opportunities for optimizing drilling operations and data-driven rock excavation. Sandvik launched the new Top Hammer XL drilling system globally in March 2021 and Tapojärvi will be the first to begin using the innovative technology at the Siilinjärvi mine.

The components of the system – the new Pantera DP1600i drill rig, new RD1840C rock drill and new LT90 rock tools – are all optimized to work seamlessly together in order to achieve exceptional drilling results.

The key benefit of the new technology is the expansion of the application area of top-hammer drilling technology to significantly larger hole sizes, up to a diameter of 178mm (7in). Another considerable customer benefit is improved fuel efficiency compared with down-the-hole (DTH) drilling, traditionally used for holes with larger diameters.

Tapojärvi will operate all six Pantera DP1600i drill rigs remotely with the AutoMine surface drilling automation system designed for Sandvik’s i-series surface drill rigs. The rigs will initially be operated from remote control stations near the drilling area and at a later stage from the mine control room. Yara’s LTE communication network will be used for remote operation and data transfer.

‘A single remote-control station will be used for controlling the drilling operations of two rigs,’ said Tapojärvi’s chief operating officer Martti Kaikkonen. ‘The system provides the capability to move the drill rigs from one hole to another by command from the remote station, and the rigs drill the blastholes autonomously. Controlling the rigs from a remote centre improves the working conditions of our employees. It is cleaner, more ergonomic and safer.’

OptiMine for Surface, a new solution for optimizing and analysing surface drilling processes, will be used by the alliance partners for continuous improvement of their mining operations. The system produces real-time data on drilling productivity, equipment condition and availability, as well as data that can be used for predicting and developing mining operations. Together with the TIM3D drill rig navigation system, it also serves as a tool for planning drilling and blasting, quality assurance and determining rock conditions.

‘Top Hammer XL, together with the AutoMine and OptiMine systems, support Tapojärvi’s technology strategy for more sustainable mining operations,’ said Jari Weman, sales manager for north-east Europe at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. ‘We have co-operated with the mine since it was founded and developed many new solutions together over the years.

‘Through this agreement, we will further develop productivity and safety in collaboration with the alliance, using Sandvik’s latest drilling technology, automation and digitalization solutions.’

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