Sandvik develops its second battery-electric concept surface drill rig

A sandvik drill in a snow filled field

Sandvik is advancing its surface drilling technology with the introduction of a new battery-electric surface drill rig as well as a new testing ground for machinery. 

The manufacturer recently introduced its second battery-electric concept surface drill rig. The BEV is the first in its size class, and capable of drilling DTH holes up to 229 mm diameter. The drill blends the autonomy of battery with the continuous endurance of a power cable.

Electric surface rigs have long depended solely on a tethered cable as the power source. With its second battery-electric surface concept, Sandvik showcases the latest technology advancements to push the potential of more sustainable surface drilling.

“With the industry shifting towards intelligent, autonomous and emission-free equipment, surface drill rigs need to be reinvented,” said Lauri Laihanen, Vice President of R&D, Surface Drilling Division, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. “This new concept rig elevates electric surface drilling.”

The intelligent DTH rig’s battery pack provides power for up to one hour of drilling or as long as seven hours of tramming. The battery is primarily intended for tramming and drilling individual holes, while the bulk of a pattern is carried out via power from its 180-metre tethered cable.

“The battery means greater freedom and flexibility and more efficient use of time, as the rig can drill immediately while the cable is being set up,” Laihanen said.

Ease of movement

Sandvik designed the cable setup to be as effortless as possible. The cable tightens itself automatically according to the direction the rig is moved and is wound on a single layer. This allows a thinner, more manageable tether. An operating voltage as high as 1,000 volts also helps enable a lighter cable.

While Sandvik’s latest concept introduces battery-electric operation to a larger size class down the hole drill, its subsystems and technologies are all tried and tested, mine-proven and energy-efficient.

Sandvik introduced its smaller top hammer battery-electric concept surface drill rig in 2022, which was developed to support more sustainable drilling in construction applications.

“Testing of the smaller concept with our construction customers has been very successful and produced valuable feedback,” Laihanen said. “We’ve learned a lot, and now it’s time to apply these learnings to mining, which has its own unique challenges.”

Real world testing

Sandvik will test its latest concept drill rig in real-world surface mining environments in collaboration with mining customers.

“We need to identify the challenges, learn from them and share the knowledge,” Laihanen said. “The shift towards more sustainable mining will change the entire operating environment, and with the learnings from our latest concept rig, we can produce more value for our customers on their decarbonization journey. We’re excited to write the next chapter in surface drilling together.”

Sandvik test pit

Sandvik has acquired a new testing facility in Finland to develop and prove future surface drilling technologies.

The surface test mine is located 40 km northwest of Tampere and Sandvik’s renowned underground test mine. The area, which previously served as a quarry, will be developed by its own drilling plan. The site is Sandvik’s first dedicated exclusively to surface drilling on a large scale.

“The development of comprehensive solutions that not only harness the latest technologies but also deliver productivity and reliability in our customers’ real-life applications and conditions requires a real-life test environment,” said Petri Virrankoski, President, Surface Drilling at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

“The surface test mine will facilitate the exchange of our deep know-how in equipment manufacturing, rock tools, automation and digitalization, supporting the design and development of even more new products and solutions in the future.”

Sandvik is currently developing the site, officially known as the Sandvik Test Pit, and testing its first drills there. Over the next two years, the company plans to construct permanent office buildings and designated customer facilities at the location.

Sandvik will use the test mine for research and development as well as hosting customers for technology demonstrations, particularly those related to automation, digitalization and electrification of surface drills. The site will enable technology development and training for both surface boom and rotary drill rigs, as well as rock tools, parts and services and related digital technologies such as automation and fleet telematics and monitoring solutions.

The test mine will also allow Sandvik to explore and demonstrate power source alternatives in a real-world environment, in which infrastructure to support both boom and rotary drilling electrification can be provided.

“Decarbonization is accelerating across our industry, and the role of electrification in surface mining sustainability will help guide our development of new systems and solutions,” said Dave Shellhammer, President, Rotary Drilling at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. 

“Testing is a major part of our R&D cycle. This new test mine will help us shorten time to market and verify even more swiftly that we’re delivering the safest, most reliable and productive drill rigs to our customers.”