Master Drilling to launch new technology to increase mining productivity


Master Drilling has revealed that its Horizontal Raise Boring (HRB) technology is ready for international roll-out after a successful pilot test at the Cullinan Mine in Gauteng, South Africa. 

Unlike conventional drill-and-blast mining procedures, HRB technology can increase mining productivity due to its continuous process of rock boring.

As it offers significant safety benefits, projects with less safe access and those requiring deeper mining operations can pass feasibility tests by using the new technology.

Master Drilling CEO Danie Pretorius said: “HRB is a locally developed, world-first technology that promises to change the very fundamentals of the global mining industry.

“The feedback from our multinational business partners from Southern Africa and Latin America on visits to the actual technology has been highly encouraging.”

HRB provides an excavation and construction tunnelling tool for the mechanical excavation of a tunnel between two existing access points.

The steady progress of the reamer can excavate an average 6m a day, compared with 2m in conventional drill-and-blast cycles.

"Tunnel cutting technology seems to be the next logical step in underground mine development."

The company also claimed that the new technology offers various other advantages, such as not requiring use of explosives, and lower excavation costs.

In the pilot project at the Cullinan Mine of Petra Diamonds, Master Drilling was involved in boring and excavating a 180m horizontal tunnel with a 4.5m diameter through the diamond deposits.

The construction method requires a smaller pilot hole to be drilled through the kimberlite, which can be challenging given that there should be no usage of water for flushing. Furthermore, the pilot hole was also needed to be almost straight.

For these reasons, Master Drilling used vacuum air suction and laser assisted directional steering in collaboration with a US-based company as the pilot hole was required to be nearly straight.

Petra Diamonds mining projects group manager Ben Swarts said: “Tunnel cutting technology seems to be the next logical step in underground mine development. This technology brings with it additional benefits such as improved excavation integrity and safety, better advance rates and possible downstream financial benefits.

“The HRB is one of the very few options currently in operation. We are optimistic about the technology and in progress to finalise a commercial agreement to continue the use of the HRB within Petra Diamonds.”

Established in 1986, Master Drilling is a South Africa-based provider of drill solutions.