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May 16, 2018

At Your Service: Customizing the new Stopemaster™ MDR in Canada

Recently, a mining client in Canada requested that Boart Longyear develop a mobile drill rig to solve the issues faced in moving their existing operating StopeMaster™ equipment safely and quickly through the mine. 

With the current procedure, the StopeMaster rig had to be escorted by a scoop in front of and behind the equipment on every move. The StopeMaster rig is essential in production drilling in the mine, but slow to move and it would hold up traffic on the ramp as it moved throughout the mine. This process was costing the mine time and resources.

In order to solve this challenge, Boart Longyear’s Drilling Services engineering team created a multi-phase plan to add both functionality and mobility to the existing StopeMaster equipment. The first phase of the plan was to design and build a more mobile StopeMaster rig, then move to hands-free rod handling, and finally to semi-autonomous drilling.

With the combined dedication of many remarkable Boart Longyear™ employees around the world, the team started engineering a new Stopemaster™ MDR rig that would solve the issues the mining company was experiencing.

A few weeks before the MDR rig was to be delivered, representatives from Boart Longyear’s Drilling Services team accompanied the mine’s pre-assessment team to scour every nook and cranny of the prototype rig to proactively identify and address conformance to the customer’s standards.

To ensure successful deployment of the new StopeMaster MDR mobile drill rig, a specialized Boart Longyear team spent 16 days onsite working out all the fine details and making sure everything was up and operating smoothly. The team included dedicated percussive drillers and a senior production designer.

On the afternoon of March 10, 2018, the very first Stopemaster MDR rig took to the ramp as it entered the portal for its inaugural deployment at a mine in Northern Ontario, Canada. Shortly thereafter, it collared its very first hole.

Drilling with the new StopeMaster MDR rig

From the moment the rig arrived at the mine, the Boart Longyear™ team worked diligently with the customer to rapidly address any new concerns identified by the onsite reviewers. Over the subsequent days, the drilling team quickly learned the new LMi interfaces - a couple of joysticks, a knob, and a touchscreen had replaced the recognizable matrix of gauges and controls native to the stalwart StopeMaster™ machine. 

(Left-to-Right) Boart Longyear employees: Willie Coderre, Tyler Allin, Zane Clark, Al Portugie, James Forest, Dan Kirkey

After days of fine tuning the rig and tweaking the software controlling the rod handling aspects of the drill, the drillers were finally allowed to drill. These enthusiastic men cooperated as a tag team to complete the first 17-meter hole that expectantly broke through a known water fault that cascaded 4°C water down onto the drill and drillers. 

Setting up the MDR on its first hole

Then it was time for a crew change, and a new set of drillers embarked on the project. The next hole had to be drilled in the stope with a cascade of refreshing Canadian ground-water endlessly spewing onto the drill. Without much of a grumble, the assigned driller donned his oilers and dutifully braved the damp, frigid conditions, rod after rod. The drill was struggling to dig with the last few rods, so the dedicated driller pulled them all to check the bit, then sent the drill string right back up. Only later was the penetration issue attributed to a malfunctioning valve, but the driller trudged through. With half a meter to go, the shift was over and it was time to quit for the day.

Due to logistical challenges that followed, some members of the drilling crew were, for one reason or another, temporarily unavailable. Another team member accepted the challenge of training on the new drill.

Willie Coderre tramming the MDR into its first Stope.

He diligently battled through the still undiagnosed valve issue to complete the last half meter of the previous hole and followed that performance up by completing a 17-meter-long hole of his own. With the drill onsite for well over a week at this point, the latest driller now held the “Most Meters Drilled” title for the new StopeMaster MDR rig. 

After agonizing over the extremely slow penetration rate, the striking bar on the drifter snapped with only three more meters left in the hole. The crew replaced the striking bar and completed the stubborn hole. 

While repositioning the drill for the next hole, the driller was quickly able to identify a weakness in one of the actuators that deploys the drill’s outriggers. The drill was again shut down and made safe before the team made their way back up to the surface to brainstorm a plan to reinforce the outrigger. With a plan in hand, the team took another maintenance day to execute the fix.

With the outrigger issues now resolved, the drill was successfully repositioned and began another hole, this time with the team focusing a keen eye on the detailed micro-behaviors throughout the drilling process. The drilling team was able to identify and diagnose the misbehaving valve and in no time, the new drill received a replacement part. A couple of hoses here, a few bolts there, and the feed pressure control was snatched from the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and temporarily placed back into the hands of an experienced longhole driller.

Finally, with multiple issues resolved, the team united to attempt to get some meters drilled without issues. With the drill behaving much better, five holes were easily drilled for a total of 83 meters that day.

Although challenges were initially experienced with the prototype, having the Boart Longyear team available onsite meant they could quickly adapt, adjust and correct any problems. Because of their dedicated teamwork, the crew was able to deliver on the customer’s request to upgrade the StopeMaster to a mobile drill rig with rod handling and semi-autonomous drilling.

The newly commissioned StopeMaster MDR rig solved the issues of moving the StopeMaster, making moves from stope to stope faster and requiring less time and resources from the mine. The StopeMaster MDR equipment is also safer with rod handling capabilities and semi-autonomous drilling with a new LMi control panel which controls both the rod handler and the StopeMaster MDR rig.


Learn more about Boart Longyear Drilling Services capabilities, fleet, safety programs, and drilling methods and applications by downloading this Drilling Services Overview. 


Media Permission: Boart Longyear grants you immediate agency to republish this article. We request that you cite Boart Longyear as the source and provide a link back where appropriate.

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