The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by productivity and safety. Technologies such as earth drilling equipment can improve the success of mining activities, improve productivity and also reduce the environmental impact, and are amongst many innovations for mine sites. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Extraction Technology in Mining: Earth Drilling Equipment.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 350,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Earth drilling equipment is a key innovation area in extraction technology

Earth drilling equipment refers to Earth augers used for making holes in the ground and are built with a rotating metal pipe or rod with one or more blades attached at the lower end. Auger mining operations drill a series of parallel holes perpendicular to the highwall, leaving adequately sized pillars between holes to maintain the highwall’s and overlying surface area’s stability. The technique is also commonly used to recover coal beneath surface features such as rivers and roads that limit surface mining. Contract auger mining can be used by coal mine operators to gain access to additional coal reserves without investing additional capital or diverting resources away from their current mining operations. The additional tonnes that low-cost contract auger mining can provide can significantly improve the host mine’s profitability.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of earth drilling equipment.

Key players in earth drilling equipment – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Leaders in Earth drilling equipment include Epiroc and Sandvik .

Epiroc , a Swedish manufacturer of mining and infrastructure equipment, aims to address its customers' key concerns, such as the need to reduce operating costs, increase equipment utilisation, reduce environmental impact, and improve health and safety conditions. Epiroc designs and manufactures rig main structures, with its rotary blast hole drills ranking first in their class. The blast hole range comprises of the drill master series, a market leader, and the Pit Viper series, a premium range product that delivers highly efficient drilling with fully autonomous capabilities.

The company’s value series drills holes with diameters ranging from 5 1/2 to 9 7/8 inches and pulldowns ranging from 30,000 to 75,000 pounds. The Pit Viper series has hole diameters ranging from 6 to 16 inches and pulldown capacities ranging from 60,000 to 125,000 pounds. The PV-230, PV-270, and PV-310 are single-pass and multi-pass options that build on the highest industry performance and innovation standards. As mining becomes more difficult and mineral locations become deeper, the Pit Vipers rotary blasthole drill rig meets deep drilling requirements extremely efficiently.

Sandvik ’s highly automated drills are powered by electric motors and feature cutting-edge technology in drilling automation, data management, and tele-remote operations. The i-series automated battery-powered drills from the company help to reduce thermal load and the need for ventilation capacity underground by avoiding the spread of diesel emissions into the environment.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.