Underground Hardrock Exploration & Market Analysis of Asia Pacific Region

William Maurice Howard

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis (University Course)


UG exploration within Hardrock mines is an activity that utilises geochemical and geophysical methods to obtain ore delineation and Rock mass characteristics for the mine Geologist and Engineer/Planner. Geophysical methods are the predominant methods used and these can be divided into Imaging and Borehole logging. UG exploration uses borehole logging as the preferred method as this is well suited to resource definition and gives better rock mass characterisation. Imaging is used also down the hole after drilling to analyse the wall of the borehole. Within borehole logging there are 3 methods used for drilling underground, core drilling, RC (Reverse circulation) drilling and Rotary RC. There are 3 types of drill programs issued by the mines Infill drilling which is between 100 and 300m depth and is primarily used for resource definition, Grade control programs which are up to 150m deep programs and used for proving grades between stopes and finally Exploration drill programs which can be up to 2000m deep holes and are used for find new ore deposits and proving the extent of existing ore bodies. The equipment used for coring is primarily skid mounted machines which are transported on site by loaders or forklifts. This drills are offered by Sandvik Atalscopco and Boart Longyear and are offered in class sizes 4-6.5ton, 8-9.5ton and 13.5-15ton. Atlascopco also offer an MCR or Mobile Carrier rig for their coring drill and this is aimed at the contractors who are doing lots of grade control programs at the drill is much easier and quicker to setup. Sandvik offer an RC version of MCR however this drill is limited to 100m depth. In general the current equipment is very basic with most drills using Pilot hydraulic controls for operation with minimal electronics. The industry is looking for improvements to eliminate the manual tasks currently performed by the driller and offsider and also there is a demand for more intelligence to be built into the machines with autonomous features and MWD (Measure While Drilling) top of the demand list from mine and drill owners. Feedback from the drillers looked for simple improvements to the machines such as better guarding and access for manual tasks. The APC region was analysed to understand the size, mines and contractors involved to build a picture of equipment being used, by whom and support Sandvik’s equipment business in this area. The analysis found Boart Longyear are the market share leaders in equipment with over 75% of the market. Atlascopco are second in terms of drills operating and that Sandvik had only one RC drill in operation out of a total of 135 drilling rigs operating in the market. The analysis also highlighted that due to Boart’s strong market share the only real way Sandvik can gain market share is to come with a superior product to the market and utilise the same control system technologies used on the highly successful UG production drills. Overall the project has been able to build a picture of the market in APC, discovered the methods used and the different way the methods are applied to deliver the information required by the mine Geologists, Mine Planners/Engineers and Contractors. This has helped to formulate a list of improvements for Coring drills, RC drills and the tools associated which will be used by Sandvik to focus efforts in the future.
Translated title of the contributionUnderground Hardrock Exploration & Market Analysis of Asia Pacific Region
Original languageEnglish
  • Moser, Peter, Supervisor (internal)
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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