Can you provide an overview of Epiroc’s presence in Nevada?
Epiroc has been present in Nevada for many years – our legacy goes back to companies such as Atlas Copco and Ingersoll Rand. The surface mining business used to be handled through a distributor and the underground business directly by us, however, we acquired the distributor a few years ago and today all the business in Nevada is transacted directly through an Epiroc company. The greatest demand in the region is for our equipment and consumables sales as well as support services, and we primarily service the gold and copper mines.
Can you tell us about Epiroc’s new Exploration Competency Center in Elko?
Together with Fordia, an Epiroc company well known for exploration drilling tools, Epiroc opened an Exploration Competency Center in Elko in May 2021 to improve the customer experience for the US exploration market. The new center provides more flexibility and customer focus over the entire sales and service process. By bringing all exploration products and applications together, customers can expect a one-stop exploration solution for all products, parts and aftermarket service needs with greater efficiency and shorter lead times.
What are Epiroc’s best-selling and fastest growing products in Nevada?
Epiroc sells both surface and underground mining equipment. On the surface side, we sell drilling equipment such as the Pit Viper drills, which have been part of the Nevada surface mining landscape for a long time. These drills have seen a great evolution in performance thanks to years of development and investment in the Pit Viper platform, and now we are exploring what we can do in terms of automation, digitization, and connecting these pieces together. Our Pit Viper range has fully autonomous capabilities and we have also ventured into automated hands-free bit changing. For the underground business, Epiroc has a complete range of drilling, loading and hauling equipment, with the same opportunities in terms of automation, connectivity, and systems integration.
We pride ourselves in having the availability of parts and services to take care of our installed base in Nevada, ensuring that our clients can continue to operate at the high levels of utilization they require despite the current supply chain challenges. In addition, we have competency as application specialists to be a partner to our customers.
How do you see the rate of adoption of automation and digitalization technologies in Nevada’s mining industry?
There is an increasing demand and interest for automation and digitalization solutions in Nevada, although the adoption rate is still slightly slower compared to other parts in the world. Epiroc has projects with Nevada Gold Mines and Robinson Nevada Mining Company where we are testing autonomous equipment and experimenting with the best ways to deploy these technologies in their operations. We have a continuous proof of autonomous projects contributing to productivity increase, but the key is to set it up for success in an existing mining environment so that it becomes the standard way of working rather than a special way of working within a standard operation.
Can you share details about Epiroc’s battery powered equipment and how it can reduce the environmental footprint of mines?
When taking diesel underground, you must have an extensive ventilation plan, which becomes an inherently important part of the underground operation. Battery powered equipment changes this landscape, how you approach your equipment, and the overall design of your mine. Battery equipment is a cleaner solution and significantly impacts on how mines are designed from a ventilation point of view. From the safety perspective, the new electrics mitigate the risk of fire and overheating while reducing ventilation needs.
Do you believe that we will start seeing continuous mining methods in hard rock mining, or will the industry continue using “drill and blast” methodologies?
We expect to start seeing more continuous mining methods in hard rock mining moving forward. Epiroc has a continuous miner and has successfully implemented it in a few regions globally and will be running more trials in the US. The mine needs to be designed to accommodate a continuous mining setup, and our aim is to establish how we can make this method fit in an existing mining operation while ensuring the same or better efficiency and cost that would be relevant to a standard drill and blast method.