Raise Boring and Shotcrete Specialists

Mechanization is increasing safety and reducing waste

The amount of small to medium-sized underground mines in Peru has created a sub-segment in the industry where Peruvian companies have established a leading position in the development of machinery and services for narrow-vein operations.

Equipment manufacturer Resemin, raise boring contractor Tumi Raise Boring, and shotcrete specialist Robocon can all be credited with innovations in their separate niches that have started to gain international recognition in jurisdictions outside of Peru.

Traditionally, raise boring’s purpose is for ventilation of the exhaust of diesel-driven equipment within mines. However, Tumi Raise Boring has developed the raise boring process to put it into the production field, initially because Nexa Resources needed it for slot raising, according to general manager, Marc Blattner.

“We designed and have a patent on a semi-automated raise boring machine called the SMB 400 SR, and a bigger model called the SBM 700 SR. The slot raise (burn holes) that mines use for production are now being done by raise boring machines, which allows for less explosives and therefore less waste,” detailed Blattner, who noted that this brings down the cost, improves efficiency and set up time, and makes human contact as minimal as possible. “This renders diamond drilling and all other forms slot arising inferior to the SBM-400SR system,” he added.

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“We designed and have a patent on a semi-automated raise boring machine called the SMB 400 SR and a bigger model called the SBM 700 SR. The slot raise (burn holes) that mines use for production are now being done by raise boring machines, which allows for less explosives and therefore less waste.”

Marc Blattner, General Manager, Tumi Raise Boring

In recent years, Robocon has become a more vertically integrated business to provide a full range of services related to shotcrete, including technology such as slick lines – a piping system that helps transport concrete within a mine.

On the topic of innovation, Enrique Sattler, Robocon’s CEO, spoke of how the introduction of laser technology has been an important focus for Robocoon: “We specialize in the operation of small machinery and laser technology is an excellent complement to this. Wet shotcrete technology offers considerable benefits in terms of safety and speed, regardless of the operation’s size. In robotics-led operations, risk is minimized and efficiency is increased.”

Sattler explained that the speed of processes is key, especially for mines that rely on small tunnels, because it can contribute directly to profitability. “Laser technology also optimizes operations because it determines the best processes for a given volume and area and helps verify the correct width of drilling,” he added.

Normet, the Finnish OEM that specializes in underground mining equipment, provides shotcrete spraying machinery to underground contractors in Peru such as JRC, AESA and Robocon. Franklin Pease, general manager of Normet Peru, described the benefits of reducing shotcrete waste with laser technology that measures the thickness of shotcrete layers: “The data obtained helps make the ground support process more efficient by reducing shotcrete waste, which can be very costly.”

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Pease added that Normet is currently testing machines with its SmartScan system and working with different contractors on the analysis and interpretation of the information that this system provides to optimize the process.

On the subject of smart shotcrete solutions, José Midzuaray, general manager of Metal Técnica, gave details of the Geokret 2.0 system, a collaboration between Putzmeister and Leica Geosystems for scanning the shotcrete surface and analyzing shotcrete thickness. “With Geokret 2.0, the operators visualize the shotcrete application in the same jobsite, being able to adapt the thickness in the moment and learning from their mistakes for next applications, so the safety and optimization of the shotcrete operations increase considerably,” said Midzuaray.

For Master Drilling, the South African multinational, raise boring equipment and support services account for all of its business in Peru, according to Belisario Tijero, general manager. The company is a pioneer of horizontal raise boring (HRB) technology, developed to replace drill and blast activities, which can dangerous. “HRB technology is used to create horizontal excavation between two existing tunnels in an underground mine. It is mostly used for ventilation shafts from the surface to underground, but also assists in providing access for personnel or material underground,” explained Tijero.

He added that, compared to conventional methods of excavation, HRB is safer, quicker, there are no explosives used, no rock fractures associated with blasting allowing more accurate excavation, the operation is autonomous, and the solution is more cost-effective.

Tijero pointed to the trend of mines moving deeper underground that requires raise bore drilling machines that can drill deeper, faster and more accurately. “To ensure that rod handling is easy and quick with the minimum human intervention to reduce risk, all our machines are automated (with pipe handlers & feeders) and a control panel provides readings to the operator,” he added.

Montali S.A., the international raise mining and shaft sinking contractor, works with the likes of Buenaventura, Poderosa, Sierra Metals and Hoschchild Mining in Peru. Yrán Ludeña Santana, Montali’s general manager, detailed the company’s wide range of underground services in Latin America, which include ground control, underground construction, infrastructure development and underground rehabilitation. “We are specialized in excavating raise climber chimneys using Alimak equipment,” said Santana.

Santana underlined the importance of collaboration to confront the challenges of operating under Covid restrictions in a country with political turbulence: “Now, more than ever, there is a need for increased solidarity; we all need to work together for our industry,” she stated, highlighting Montali’s initiatives to hire employees from local communities to train local talent as technical specialists.

Image courtesy of Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash