Transforming operations at the Sanshandao gold mine

Siobhan Doyle

A two-boom face drill rig has set a new drilling record in China.

The Sanshandao gold mine, part of the Shandong Gold Group, boasts China’s most mechanised underground operation. It is vital given its challenging location near Bohai Bay, subjecting equipment to severe corrosion, humidity, and heat. Equipment reliability, safety, and efficiency are paramount, with only robust machinery approved.

Since 1985, Epiroc has been the primary supplier, providing large-scale intelligent equipment such as 4-tonne loaders, Minetruck MT2200 haulers, and Boomer S2 face drill rigs, facilitating the creation of an advanced and eco-friendly mine.

In October 2020, the mine introduced its first domestic Boomer S2 face drill rig, assembling a specialised team to leverage its digital transmission, precise positioning, and fast drilling capabilities. They achieved a record-breaking blast footage of 4m in July 2021, demonstrating the rig’s efficiency.

Record-breaking

In July 2021, through continuous optimisation of drift profiles, hole layout, explosive structure, and blasting sequence, they successfully broke through a 4.5 x 4.25m section and achieved a single blast footage of four meters, setting a record of a single footage of 4.5m.

“Before using Epiroc’s automation-ready Boomer S2 with two booms, we used a single-boom drill rig with a traditional hydraulic control system. The operation involved manually painting hole positions on the blasting face, which had low efficiency, poor drilling accuracy, short blasting footage, uneven blasting block size, excessive over-excavation, and uneven roof and wall surfaces, greatly affecting the overall mining progress,” says director Weihua Xu. “In October 2020, with the introduction of the first Boomer S2 in China, we broke the record of a single blasting footage, 4m, which not only significantly improved construction efficiency but also opened up new exploration and improvement in underground mining automation, digitalisation, and intelligence.”

Automation capabilities

Operator Wei Li is conducting rock drilling operations at a working face 960m underground. Sitting in a fully enclosed cabin with ROPs and FOPs, he only needs to gently push the control lever and the Boomer S2 accurately positions itself according to the design and start drilling.

“Its automation capabilities are very powerful, with precise positioning, long drilling rods, and fast drilling speed. Moreover, the driving experience is more comfortable, and the fault self-diagnosis and intelligent operation assistance functions make our work easier,” says Li. “There is often a need to move underground, and the Boomer S2 is smaller in size, making it more convenient for transportation compared to other equipment of the same calibre.”

Improving safety

Drifts constructed using the Epiroc Boomer S2 have better shaping, greatly reducing loose rock on the working face, reducing the labor intensity of workers for inspection and prying, and further improving the safety level of the working environment.

The harsh underground construction conditions – high temperature, high humidity, and high corrosion – lead to high drilling tool consumption and equipment maintenance costs. Epiroc’s extensive service effectively addresses concerns at the Sanshandao gold mine, alleviating worries for the mine operators.

The Boomer S2 not only raises equipment standards but also drives Sanshandao towards becoming an intelligent mine. By continually innovating to reduce explosives consumption and optimise blasting, the mine contributes to the high-quality development of Shandong Gold Group.

Epiroc continues its collaboration with Sanshandao, integrating 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and AI into traditional mining, with the goal to establish a leading mine model.

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