INNOVATIONS IN EXPLORATION — A KEY TO STABLE GROWTH!

Despite the fact that the situation in mining industry has somewhat stabilized, raw material prices remain low, and even in the absence of turbulence mining companies and their contractors have to solve a number of problems associated with reduced demand and lack of financing, and with increasing demands of industry insiders. Companies continue to minimize expenses, cut costs and do not rest on their laurels, as they understand that while supporting the reached level of savings they need to raise the operational efficiency.

Industry leaders are trying to apply various approaches; one of them is continuous investing in innovative technologies. Automation and improvement of drilling systems, data analyses and mobile technologies allow companies to increase productivity while reducing personnel and electrical power expenses. Now innovations play an important role being a flagship of entire industry.

The development of cross-industry innovation is a key to sustainable development of the company, which can influence the growth of the industry in future, the transition to fully autonomous vehicles and other automation technologies.

By increasing of «intellectualization» stages machines will be able to perform more complex tasks including different hazardous works, which in turn makes it possible to reduce labour costs and increase productivity. Already now companies are employing specialists who are able to ensure systematic introduction of innovations.

In order to cut down work scope but manage to ensure long-term projects implementation at the same time, it is vital to learn how to adjust scopes according to changing economic trends, and also to reduce costs on geological works through the use of modular highly automated equipment, to slowly but steadily build up their power.

For example, the usage of removable core receiver allows to increase the production of drilling up to 1,5–2 times comparing to conventional diamond drilling due to reduction of trip time and the possibility to conduct drilling deeper and with higher frequency of tool rotation. This reduces the consumption of diamonds and increases core extraction. High technical and economic characteristics of drilling are achieved by using of improved quality diamond bits, which provide not less than 30 meters feed range. However, during the exploration of several fields the effectiveness of Wireline core barrel application is proved even at smaller feed range at a trip due to dramatic increase of acquired core quality.

Advantages of Wireline core drilling:
1. Drilling progress in one trip can reach the same value as if with diamond bit, i.e. dozens and hundreds of meters. This can significantly reduce the amount of drill string trips which need laborious running in and out of drilling pipes.
2. The reduction of drill string trips amount decreases drilling pipes and their threaded joints wear, and also non-production wear of diamond bit, increases the stability of borehole.

At the moment leading manufacturers of surface and underground drilling rigs for core drilling and the most presented on the market of Russia and CIS are Swedish and correspondently Chinese companies. The only Russian manufacturer of hydraulic surface and underground drilling rigs for Wireline core drilling is ZBO Drill Industries, Inc., Orenburg, Russia.

Beside the most popular version of surface drilling rig ZBO S15 for high-speed diamond exploration drilling for solid minerals by using wireline core barrel ZBO Drill Industries, Inc. is ready to offer underground drilling rig with 6.5 tons load capacity — ZBO U7. The rig is completely equipped with hydraulically driven equipment, it is supplied with full set of drilling string and additional equipment. Powerful, compact construction consists of three main modules, providing high mobility and a wide range of drilling operations. This universal positioning device makes it possible to drill in any direction (360 °). Drilling rig ZBO U7 was designed as a part of the project «Development and launching of production line of surface and mine drilling rigs, including rigs for application of Wireline method of drilling (with removable core barrel), aligned with directional drilling system», which is included into the Register of top-priority investment projects.

Unit’s reliability is ensured by double-acting telescopic cylinder (chainless). Flexible, screened, rubber coated high wear resistant electric power cables are designed especially for the aggressive mine environment. Soft starter is used to launch the power unit (75 kW). Standard configuration includes current leakage control device, guarding device and emergency stop device, which are assembled on each block.

Electronic control system of the rig shows main parameters of incoming power network, displays on the screen full history of errors and causes of engine emergency stops, in on-line mode shows the parameters of power supply equipment work and event log. Phases sequence chain protection is installed: as for electric motor overheating, low level of hydraulic oil, low and high line voltage. Fast shipping, no customs clearance, absence of sanctions threats, round the clock service and high quality are the hallmarks of ZBO Drill Industry, Inc. products, which is confirmed by numerous positive feedbacks and high loyalty of customers. Drilling rigs are designed to completely meet requirements of International Standards and Technical regulations of the Customs union. Drill rig’s and tools design is protected by the patents.

Besides existing ones, to advanced solid minerals extraction technologies can be added not only the development of new control systems, but also designing of geo-data software and automatic command system. Specific place is occupied by «unmanned» or «minimally manned» technologies, which imply high requirements to the quality of the equipment working underground, reliability of technical solutions, possibility to reduce the scope of repair works, development of technologies of conducting underground mining using high-performance self-propelled equipment.

At the moment engineers of ZBO Drill Industries, Inc. have defined several stages of transition to «unmanned» technologies and stated four types of control:
1. Hydraulic
.
2. E
lectro-hydraulic.
3.
Remote/wireless.
4.
Automated.
It is due to the fact that each stage is based on previous one wih a gradual build-up of electronic components, and as a result transition o completely automated type of rig commanding and exclusion of obligatory human presence in the hazardous area.

At present core drilling is impossible without the presence of a human. But even now leading manufacturers offer their solutions, e.g. computer-driven control system which allows one operator to perform all range of necessary operations as the system provides full automation of the drilling process.

In the II quarter 2018 ZBO Drill Industries, Inc. will present its newly designed ZBO U7E — an improved model of the underground drilling rig ZBO U7, thereby providing the basis of transition to the third stage: engineering of remotely operated drilling rig.

The main control of a new electro-hydraulic drilling rig ZBO U7 comes from hydraulic distributors via electronic control channels. Most of the mechanisms are connected by an electric wire, which greatly simplifies the installation and quickens the setting and adjustment processes. Weight and dimensions are also significantly reduced.

All drilling rigs ZBO U7Е will be equipped with «ZBO Drill Control» system which displays such technological parameters as:


frequency of drilling string rotation;
flow and pressure of drilling mud;
weight of the column;
bottomhole load;
mechanical drilling speed;
torque at the rotation unit;
deepening index.

Additionally to stated above advantages of drilling rig ZBO U7E it can be stated that this innovative solution of domastic production is much cheaper than foreign analogues.

With the persisting trend of increasing main minerals production and positive dynamics in the geological mine exploration growth the demand for underground rigs with Wireline method of drilling will grow. If in 2016 the underground rigs market accumulatively made $231mln, by 2020 the amount will grow to S280mln. Given the average 3-5 years lifetime of the rigs annual import volume will increase proportionally to the growth of solid minerals production in an average of 4,7 %. The demand for drilling rigs with built-in system of «minimally manned» technologies proves the theory of promising projects connected with engineering of «unmanned» ZBO Drill Industries, Inc. technologies.

Underground operations are defined by high risks, and that means that application of cutting-edge technologies are vitally important in this industry, especially to ZBO Drill Industry, Inc. clients conducting drilling operations.

Kristina Prentich — Deputy Commercial director, ZBO Drill Industries, Inc.
Dmitry VoroninSenior Designer, ZBO Drill Industries, Inc.

«Zoloto i tekhnologii» June №2(36) 2017 г.