WorldWide Drilling Resource

Remote Operation of Blasthole Drill Rig Increases Safety Adapted from Information by Anglo American Australia Anglo American Australia’s first priority is doing everything they can to keep employees safe and well. Although the answers are not easy and because mining will always carry risks, they are working toward a future where serious injury or loss of life is reduced to zero. Knowing what the biggest risks are, they are put- ting improved rules, standards, and new technologies in place to prevent harm. To increase safety, the company is developing a new generation of engineered controls to move operators further out of harm’s way by reducing risk exposure. The world’s first remote operation of a rotary blasthole drill rig by Anglo American’s Dawson Mine won the JCB CEA (Joseph Cyril Bamford Construction Equipment Australia) Innovation Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards. The Dawson Mine team determined to make their open-cut operations safer by removing operators from the field. They worked with electrical control system supplier, Flanders, and their maintenance and engineering team to upgrade the drill rig system’s onboard computer, sensors, and new safety devices, as well as upgrading the mine’s Wi-Fi network to ensure connectivity. Around 18 months of tireless work delivered the project to completion. As a result of their commitment, they produced the first known rotary blasthole drill rig capable of completing multipass operations remotely. They drilled a hole at the Dawson mine using a machine operated remotely by a controller situated almost 2½ miles away. General Manager of Anglo American’s Dawson Mine, Clarence Roberts, commented, “Our project team did an incredible job upgrading the D90K drill rig by giving it a new control system and mechanical modifications. This allows the drill rig to continually add and remove multiple drill rods during the drilling process without operator intervention, making it more efficient and consistent.” Reaching depths up to six times deeper than standard single-rod drills, this drill rig can access coal seams more easily. The newly-automated drill rig is delivering excellent performance, and the company is in the process of automat- ing two more drill rigs during the immediate future. The most important thing about this innovation is the improved safety by removing people from an operational area where they could be exposed to noise, dust, vibrations, and vehicle movements. They can now work in an on-site office, where a remote operations center is set up for them to use the new one-touch drilling technology. Drivers’ Safety Tips Adapted from Information by United Rentals & National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Driving as part of a job comes with inherent risks. To avoid becoming a tragic statistic, companies would be wise to hold safety meetings, either formal or informal, to remind their drivers of best practices and allow them to share knowledge and experience with each other. Getting drivers together for safety meetings is a logisti- cal challenge, so short meetings with rele- vant topics are best. Interesting and en- gaging presentations will hold drivers’ attention and encourage dialogue. Asking drivers to share their safety suggestions is a good way for real life experiences to benefit other drivers. Top Concerns: *Pre-Inspections: Brakes/Tires/Engine. *Speeding: Slow down for inclement weather. *Defensive Driving: Never be presump- tuous; Leave adequate space between vehicles; Do not engage tailgaters or aggressive drivers; Beware in work zones. *Distractive Driving: Eating, drinking, talking, radios, navigation systems, cell phones. Get Home Safely. ENV EXB 39 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® FEBRUARY 2021

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