Master Drilling’s Horizontal Raise Boring (HRB) technology is ready for international roll-out after the successful pilot test at the Cullinan Mine.
CEO of Master Drilling, Danie Pretorius, commented, “The feedback from our multinational business partners from Southern Africa and Latin America on visits to the actual technology has been highly encouraging.”
The pilot project at the Cullinan Mine of Petra Diamond Mines involved boring and excavating a 180 meter horizontal tunnel with 4.5 meter diameter through the kimberlite ore, i.e. diamond deposits.
HRB can replace conventional drill-and-blast mining and promises to increase mining productivity, thanks to continuous process of rock boring, in addition to significant safety benefits.
HRB will enable mining construction projects to meet the required hurdle and feasibility rates towards becoming productive mines. Projects with less safe access, such as deeper mining operations and higher stress zones, are also more likely to pass feasibility tests thanks to the safety improvements that HRB brings.
HRB will provide the mining industry with an excavation and construction tunnelling tool for the mechanical excavation of a tunnel between two existing access points, very similar to the standard form of raise boring. The steady progress of the reamer is able to excavate an average 6 meters per day, compared to 2 meters in conventional drill-and-blast cycles.
The technology offers the much-needed mechanisation to reduce the number of workers who are exposed to dangerous underground conditions.
The benefits extend across the project-chain and include amongst others:
No need to use explosives
No blast effected damage inflicted to the tunnel sidewalls
The structure of the tunnel is stronger due to the circular profile of the tunnel
Reduced rock support costs
Improved tunnel construction accuracy
Lower excavation costs
Continuous operations not effected by blast re-entry
Greater remote operated possibilities
In certain locations it is impossible to assemble a tunnel boring machine (TBM) due to its length and size. In these locations the plant for raise boring is smaller and easier to transport.
Master Drilling was established in 1986 and listed on the JSE in 2012 and operates in the mining, underground and open pit business. The business model is that of a contractor who designs and manufactures its own drilling equipment to provide complete drilling service solutions, and does not sell any of it’s machines. Master Drilling recorded revenue of USD 58.3 million in the six months ended June 2016, and net profit of USD 9.6million for the period and market capitalisation of R2.5 billion, with a $209 million order book excluding HRB.
“Master Drilling is about selling a solution and not a product. Our technologies is the result of identifying and responding to needs in the market – ahead of the curve,” said Pretorius.
Over the years, Master Drilling has developed new technologies including the Remotely Operated Shaft Inspection Unit (ROSI), amongst others. Currently Master Drilling is developing the Blind Shaft Boring System (BSBS), a mechanised system for boring a vertical shaft to a depth of 2 000 meter with finished diameters ranging from 10 meter to 13 meter. No underground access is required for the BSBS to start boring operations as a shaft sinking method.