Sandvik Mining has announced the forthcoming release of its new DD422i development drill rig, the first of the company’s Next Generation underground hard rock drill rigs.

Alain Comorge, manager of underground drilling at Sandvik Mining, said the new rig will offer industry-leading levels of safety, productivity and automation.

"Our forthcoming Sandvik DD422i development jumbo provides a clear direction to the future of mining, incorporating a wide variety of new features for more efficient drilling," Comorge said.

To be released on the market this year, Sandvik DD422i will be the first Next Generation face drilling rig from Sandvik Mining with an intelligent control system.

"Sandvik DD422i development jumbo will be the most advanced underground mining drill on the market," Comorge said.

"As mines go deeper over the next 25 years, mine managers will face numerous challenges to ensure they can mine safely and cost-effectively. Our Next Generation range of underground drill rigs, spearheaded by Sandvik DD422i development jumbo, has been designed to meet these challenges."

In terms of safety and ergonomics, Sandvik DD422i features a completely redesigned and larger cabin, incorporating the highest levels of operator protection and comfort.

Key safety features include a Sandvik Access Detection system designed to reduce risks to workers who enter the rig’s operating area, readiness for teleremote operated functions that move workers from hazardous areas to locations where they can safely operate the rig and a ROPS/FOPS cabin, which is also available as an acid-proof option.

Ergonomic features include joystick controls, fully adjustable control panel and operator seating, significantly improved visibility through larger windows and improved illumination with LED lighting, reduced noise, heat and dust levels and an easy to use touchscreen graphical user interface.

Comorge said that to deliver the industry’s highest levels of drilling performance and safety, Sandvik DD422i would offer the widest range of automated features on the market, including new drilling and boom control systems, full face drilling automation and drill rig navigation and industry-leading drill planning, analysis and optimisation systems.

"At Sandvik Mining, our EHS vision is to achieve zero harm to our people, the environment we work in, our customers and our suppliers," Comorge said.

"The automation options we can offer with Sandvik DD422i and other rigs in our Next Generation drill range means we can ensure optimal working conditions and uncompromised safety.

"By removing workers from mine danger zones through our industry-leading teleremote equipment and automation options, we can help mine management deliver the safest-possible mining environments, even in the world’s deepest mines. Our Next Generation drill rigs will mean mines can offer their operators new roles as supervisors working in comfortable and safe conditions, rather than being directly involved in the mining process."

In addition, as mines go deeper, handling and managing waste material will become ever-more expensive, so the ability to achieve very precise, repeatable drilling will be crucial.

"Sandvik DD422i features a full-face drilling automation system that will ensure mines will consistently achieve their optimum decline profiles, with minimal over or under-breaking, speeding the development process and minimising waste material or rework," Comorge said.

"Finding skilled operators is already an issue for many mines around the world, particularly in remote mining regions, and there is also a wide variation in productivity and performance levels depending on operator’s skill levels. Increased levels of automation ensure more predictable and consistent mining operations."

With the new Sandvik DD422i, along with other forthcoming models in the company’s Next Generation family of underground hard rock drill rigs, Sandvik Mining will be able to offer:

– All machines online and connected, optimizing fleet management and securing total productivity
– Readiness for teleoperated drilling functions
– Timely service backups, both on-site and remotely

In addition, all rigs within the Next Generation range will include standardized controls and systems for both development and production rigs, making operator training significantly easier, particularly when operators have to work on a number of different rigs, as well as reducing the number of parts required in multi-model fleets.

"Within the next ten years, we expect to see the age of the ‘Intelligent Mine’; all autonomous machines, process-like production and mine-wide information networks, and our Next Generation intelligent drill rigs will be ready for that," Comorge said.

"The features built into Sandvik DD422i and others in our Next Generation range will enable mines to lead the industry in safety and precision production, while meeting their needs as mining evolves into higher levels of automation and process."