Drill

Continuous drilling

Challenge

Continuous cable-bolt drilling – safer and more productive

Considering the current state of drilling technology, the fundamental practice of adding screwed sections of jointed drill rods has changed very little for over a century. Although improvements, such as the ability to directionally steer in real-time, have been developed more recently.

An absence of viable alternatives has forced industry to accept the inherent limitations of jointed drill rods, namely:

  1. Low productivity associated with frequent rod changes, during drill advance and drill-string extraction
  2. Safety hazards associated with intense manual rod-handling and man-machine interactions

Technology Overview

Continuous drilling with a flexible hose

Mining3 has been examining a new continuous cable bolt drilling technique.

The prototype developed, uses a flexible hose for continuous drilling of small < 45mm holes of varying lengths up to and over 8m holes. This essentially negates the need for manually handling drill rods.

Moreover, the continuous nature of drilling is highly compatible with automation and remote controlling, potentially removing operators from working near hazardous rock mass environments.

Benefits

Continuous cable-bolt drilling – safer and more productive

The ultimate vision of this technology is to provide a safer and more productive means of developing roadways and thereby accessing the orebody more efficiently.

When automated, the new technology will improve productivity, reduce operator risks and has the potential to replace the manual drill-rod handling system.

Status

Mining3 engineers conducted capability tests of the prototype and continuous drilling techniques at the Peabody Wambo mine, 30 kilometres west of Singleton in New South Wales.

The results demonstrated positive benefits of continuous cable-bolt drilling techniques through various strata conditions, although further developments are still required.

Trials also revealed the need to stiffen the flexible drilling conduit to enable more effective penetration and reduction of conduit buckling through long-hole distances.

This experiment led to solutions being identified by Mining3 engineers to re-design the system component to be integrated into future versions of the continuous drilling equipment.

Knowledge gathered from this project will be applied to other continuous drilling technology projects planned later in the year.