Anglo’s remote multi-pass drill wins plaudits for work at Dawson coal mine

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Anglo American has been recognised for the development and testing of a world-first remotely operated multi-pass drill at its Dawson coal mine, with the company recently taking out the JCB CEA Innovation (Miner) Award at the 2020 Queensland Mining Awards in Mackay.

Driven by a commitment to make its open-pit operations safer by removing operators from the field, the team at Dawson produced the first known rotary blasthole drill rig to be able to complete multi-pass operations remotely.

General Manger of Anglo American’s Dawson Mine, Clarence Robertson, said the team had worked tirelessly over around 18 months to deliver the project.

“Our project team did an incredible job upgrading the (Sandvik) D90K drill rig by giving it a new control system and mechanical modifications,” he said. “This allows the drill rig to continually add and remove multiple drill rods during the drilling process without operator intervention, making it more efficient and consistent.”

He explained: “The drill can reach depths up to six times deeper than a standard single-rod drill, including angled and vertical holes, to reach the coal seams more easily.

“Most importantly, the innovation is improving safety by removing our people from an operational area where they could be exposed to noise, dust, vibrations and vehicle movements. They now work from a site office environment, where a remote operations centre has been setup for them to use new one-touch drilling technology.”

Robertson said the drill rig is now delivering beyond benchmark performance, and the operation is in the process of automating two more drill rigs in the next six months.

Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said the project was a great example of the positive impacts innovation and technology can have on daily operations.

“The remote multi-pass drill is a strong demonstration of how technology, digitisation and remote operation can come together to make our operations safer, more sustainable and more productive.

“Congratulations to our team from Dawson Mine on their achievement, which has made a significant impact on the way we operate.”

Presented by the Bowen Basin Mining Club, in partnership with the Queensland Resources Council, the bi-annual Queensland Mining Awards recognise industry excellence across the categories of productivity, safety, innovation, environment, collaboration, product launch, community, staff engagement and equal opportunity initiatives.

Anglo American was also recognised as finalists the following Queensland Mining Awards categories:

  • Innovation Award (Miner):
    • Dawson Mine’s world-first remote multi-pass drill; and
    • Development of first electronic tablet device certified for use in underground coal mining.
  • Community/Staff Engagement Award:
    • Anglo American LIVE online concert series.
  • Equal Opportunity Award:
    • Moranbah North Mine’s Balancing the Team female trainee program.
  • Collaboration Award:
    • Mitchell Services/Anglo American for innovation in underground coal gas drainage UIS drill rig.

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