Narrow Vein Mining Machines
Improve Life for Operators
The top offerings have performance specs that more than meet the needs of modern mines, and feature the operability and cabs that meet the needs of operators
By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer
Still, the primary beneficiary is, in most cases, the operator. Compared to those of earlier models, the cabs are often spacious, quiet and air conditioned. The controls are ergonomic. Visibility is optimal. The screens are relatively small and nonintrusive, but the information they give is critical.
These machines were developed to meet the strict criteria of miserly mine managers and conscientious engineers, who prioritize production, cost savings and sustainability. But clearly they were also designed to be sold to operators.
Better Battery Drives
Aramine reported improved capacity life for its multi-purpose energy module. The development comes as the company prepares announcements for multiple new battery machines that will be released before 2024. The energy module, which was originally designed for use in the compact L140B loader, was further developed in 2020 and 2021, with the first units delivered to customers in 2022. “It was 24 kW/hr with the battery before,” said Arnaud Paul, product director, Aramine. “Now it is 42 kW/hr,” he said. “It is a brand new capacity for us.”
With 60% more capacity life, the battery powers the loader for up to six hours, compared to up to four hours with the predecessor battery. “It is very interesting,” Paul said. “Depending on the application we can double the capacity of the machine.” With the additional capacity, some operations can now run a machine for a workday and then charge it overnight. “They run the machine for the day, maybe for five to six hours, and then they just plug it in the wall at the end of the day and use it the day after,” Paul said. “They don’t have to change the battery.” For those that do, the battery is designed for use with the Quick Replacement System (QRS). “If they have more shifts, two or three shifts, then they can use the QRS,” he said. “The energy module can be changed in a maximum of five or 10 minutes.” QRS requires a 1-mt crane.
The battery has the same chemistry and dimensions as its predecessor. “The only difference is we improved the time to cool down,” Paul said. To upgrade with the new battery requires an update to the energy module software. “In the CAN bus, you just have to upgrade the program and the PLC,” he said. “Just upgrade it, and then it goes with the previous energy module and the new energy module power, as the latest software version recognizes each energy module by its serial number.”
The new battery is designed for a total life of roughly 12,000 cycles. Beyond powering mining machines, it can be used as a generator, Paul said. “For example, the module can be used to power lights underground with a specific circuit,” he said. “LED lights are perfect for that because they don’t use much energy and they have a good result regarding light.”
The new battery precedes the release of multiple new battery machines before the end of 2023. First, Aramine plans to release the L440B, a battery-powered 4.2-mt loader. “The prototype will be tested soon,” Paul said. “The production version should be released Q1 2023.”
Based on the L140B, the unit was developed in parallel with the popular L350 diesel, a 3.5-mt loader. “The L440B is the same technology as the L140B, but with improvements,” Paul said. “It is going to be the only 4.2-mt battery-powered loader that can offer much more efficient performance and cost effectiveness than a diesel equivalent despite a much higher level of options.”
Operators will benefit from the enclosed, air-conditioned and -filtered cabin, which features a new console and dashboard. “It has a large cabin with sufficient space, which is unique in this loader range,” he said. “Of course, because it is a battery machine there is basically no noise,” Paul said. “That is also very comfortable for the operator.”
Miners who are operating the L140B are amazed by the performance and reliability, and are eager to test the L440B prototype, he said. “As we do with every piece of equipment we manufacture, they can come from anywhere in the world and test the machine here,” Paul said. “And every time they do with battery equipment they are very surprised by the low noise of the machine, the capacity of the machine, and the power of the machine.” The loader can be operated remotely from the surface. “That is something we worked on with a partner,” Paul said. The advent of the loader will be followed by the launch of a support service offering. “We realize that most clients interested in this kind of machine, with zero emissions and low ventilation requirements, they really look for making a clean production with OEM service and support,” he said.
“If a client has a specific maintenance request, we would be able to develop that locally, depending on the country and depending on the application, through our world service network,” Paul said. “We have several distributors and subsidiaries around the world.”
Armine is also developing two new battery-powered mine trucks. Both units will use the L140B and L440B bases to match the loading capacity and have common parts and systems. Currently, Aramine is also developing an electric DM901HDE front face drill rig. “It will be battery for tramming and electric for drilling,” Paul said. “You still need to plug it in the wall for drilling, but you will not need a diesel engine for tramming.” At 1 m wide, the current diesel version is compact, with a low center of gravity, and is ideal for sections between 4.5 m2 and 12 m2.
Drill Rig Offers Levels
J.H. Fletcher & Co. said the J101 drill rig features a state-of-the-art rockdrill, automation and machine health monitoring capabilities for optimized drilling efficiency and versatility in varying rock conditions. “This machine, like all Fletcher products, works towards creating a safer and more efficient underground environment,” said Katey Matney, marketing coordinator. The diesel-tram, electric drill jumbo is 2.3 m high by 1.4 m wide, and 11.2 m long. “The rig is nimble in tight quarters,” she said. It has a 4.6-m outside-turn radius, and a 2.4-m inside-turn radius that “helps it navigate narrow conditions.”
Features include a proven rockdrill, advanced hydraulics, and optional levels of automation. The HVL-38 rockdrill comes standard. HVL stands for hydraulic valve-less, and the unit “is a high-performance, low-operating- cost percussive rockdrill,” she said. “It provides an impact frequency of 97 hertz, an impact energy of 196 Nm, and output power of 19 kW,” Matney said. “All at around 190 kg.” The rockdrill requires no maintenance of accumulators. “Therefore, there is no requirement to charge accumulators with nitrogen and replace damaged diaphragms,” she said. “The HVL-38 is designed with the ability to utilize female striker bars, eliminating one extra threaded connection and decreasing the overall feed length,” Matney said. “A shorter feed length reduces weight, decreases boom wear, and improves equipment mobility.” The rockdrill is on roughly 115 machines in the field.
The J101 rig can be modified to accept other rockdrills, illustrating the versatility of the rig. “The J101-AD/E’s ability to accommodate a variety of rockdrills for various rock conditions gives the end-user the ability to use their tools and procedures,” she said. The Graphic Operator Angle Display (GOAD) system is optional and offers different tiers of automation depending on the customer’s need. “The latest addition to the GOAD system is the Automated Entry Driver that allows full automation of the drilling process,” Matney said.
GOAD uses “sensors on the boom and feed mechanisms, and it displays hole angles and depth of drilling on an in-cab monitor,” she said. “This helps ensure accurate boom and feed alignment for precise hole placement and direction.”
The system can be used for both burn patterns and V-cut patterns. “In operations using burn patterns, the drill round can be optimized, or longer rounds drilled due to precision drilling,” Matney said. “In operations using V-cut patterns with variable hole depth, the system automatically calculates the proper depth for a flat blasted face and retracts the rock drill when the correct calculated depth is reached.”
In the field, GOAD has been used for an up-to-30% improvement in tonnage blasted and significant savings in fuel, blasting agents, drill steel and bits, she said. “The new GOAD MPA and AED system makes operator training easier, as the system visually sets up guides for the operator and can perform drilling functions.” The GOAD system operates through the Fletchbus system, which “works as a smart hub for machine operations and data collection,” she said. “In other words, Fletchbus works as a port of communication between the operator and machine, by interpreting to the operator what the machine is doing, and to the machine what the operator wants it to do,” Matney said. “The system incorporates and refines previous features offered through the GOAD system.”
The Fletchbus system is equipped with a home screen display specific to the machine. “Through this screen, the operator can perform machine functions and view an active dashboard for machine statistics,” she said. “The operator also has the ability to review schematics, circuits, and feedback information through the home screen display.” During drilling, Fletchbus “adjusts the drilling parameter for different strata and drilling conditions,” Matney said. “This includes the ability to limit the drilling rate when drilling through contrasting strata layers and will help prevent acceleration when encountering voids or soft layers,” she said. “The Fletchbus system also aids in preventing rotation stalls, issues resulting from voids, and plugged steels.”
Fletchbus also provides numerous interlocks for improved safety. “This feature makes the state of functions mutually dependent,” she said. “Interlocks aid in preventing the machine from harming its operator or damaging itself by preventing one element from changing state due to the state of another element.” For example, the boom swing interlock “limits the machine from allowing the boom to swing without a stab jack in place to stabilize the machine.” Other top tier features on the J101 rig include electrically actuated hydraulics. “Previously manually hydraulic operations now function through electrically actuated hydraulics,” Matney said. “This refinement translates to less wires, hydraulic logic, hoses, and valves.”
The automation capabilities on the rig are determined by customer specifications. “GOAD and Fletchbus allows Fletcher to program the system specific to each machine, and accommodate any additional options,” she said. “Because the system can be programmed in-house or on-site, adding and updating features has never been more flexible.”
Beyond automation, the rig features a cab designed for operator comfort and ease of use. The rig was also designed to reduce and simplify maintenance tasks. “The J101 comes equipped with easyto- access panels that allows technicians quick access to main components,” Matney said. The rig is “designed with access holes for oil drainage and filter replacement, and batteries mounted for easy access.” The rig, like “all Fletcher equipment, is supported by a team from start to finish,” she said. “This team continues to support the equipment after it is in the field, providing the customer with easy access to field sales representatives, internal sales associates, field service technicians, project engineers, and bay leaders who managed the build of the equipment,” Matney said. “The quick turnaround in continued support helps maintain equipment and reduce downtime.”
The rig accomplishes what it was designed to do, which is add value for customers operating in challenging conditions. “Fletcher’s main goals in entering the narrow vein market was to provide relief to operator’s manually performing functions,” she said. “Mechanizing the processes will help improve the safety level as well as efficiency, thus improving the bottom-line cost.”
Drill Rig Offers Speed,
During a 3-month site acceptance test, the new Sandvik DD212 narrow vein rig drilled 30,200 m, at a rate of 127 m/h. “This is more than 35% faster than the current DD210s owned by the mine,” said Jean Christophe Goiffon, product manager, narrow vein drills, Sandvik. The unit had an availability rate of 93% and accumulated 265 percussion hours. It increased productivity over the predecessor units in the mine, and gave better pull out and better tunnel shape, he said.
“Operators like the ergonomics of the drilling panel, and the digital screen showing the feed angles is very useful for the feed positioning,” Goiffon said. “The customer is now operating two DD212 drills and has purchased four additional units.” The hard rock mine is located 4,600 m above sea level with 3- x 3-m and 4- x 4-m tunnels.
It offers reduced overbreakage and better control of dilution, improved quality of drilled face and tunnel profiles, and increased drill performance and meters advanced, “leading to improved pull out per round compared to peers,” he said. Three low-emissions Deutz engines are available and ensure “compliance with most restrictive local regulations,” Goiffon said. “It also offers decreased total cost of ownership compared to existing offerings.” Top features include a compact drill module and small carrier dimension to fit into tight drifts. The standard 20-kW RDX5 Rockdrill gives high-performance drilling in the 43- to 64-mm-diameter range. It allows a cut hole diameter of 76 to 127 mm. The 210-kg rock drill has a maximum speed of 250 rpm, and gives 400 Nm torque. The drill lowers ownership costs by enduring longer service intervals, reducing tool consumption, and requiring less maintenance, Goiffon said.
THC561 drill controls further the longevity of the rockdrill. The controls give “feed percussion follow-up, anti-jamming, stop-and-return automatics and feed deviation adjustment,” he said. The controls feature a built-in reaming hole selector, and give a roughly 15% drilling performance improvement over the DD210 hydraulics. The THC561 system “reduces the wear on both the rock drill and rock tools for an extended lifetime,” Goiffon said.
The DD212 has a new instrumented boom, the SB20i, offering fast and precise feed positioning and feed auto-parallelism. “The 1-m boom extension and the two rotation actuators, narrow vein type, of the drill ensure a large face coverage from 6 m2 to 25 m2,” Sandvik said. “Equipped with the compact, versatile CFX feed system, the rig helps mines to open smaller tunnel sections.” A new display for easy positioning and drilling instrumentation for face and vertical positions are optional. “Hole angles for face drilling, vertical and inclined holes can easily be visualized on the colored screen,” Sandvik reported. The “incorporated automatic functions allow the operator to concentrate on safe, precise and productive operations.” The entire drilling operation is “made from under the FOPS-certified canopy,” Goiffon said.
The DD212 offers performance gains over the DD210. There is an “up to 20% reduction in boom positioning time per hole with electric parallelism,” he said. One result is an “up to 15% gain in drilling time,” Goiffon said. Another highlight is an “up to 3% better pull-out ratio, which can result in up to 10 cm more advance per face.”
The rig is capable of multiple applications, such as development, cross-cut, long hole, or cable-and-bolt-holes drilling. “Since its release in 2021, more than 20 DD212s have been shipped worldwide from the Lyon factory,” Goiffon said. With the adoption of the unit, Sandvik provides training and support, he said. “Operator and maintenance technician training is driven by our local teams and our Drill Master’s team to ensure optimized operation performance.”
for Complex Challenges
After producing exemplary results at field trials in Kazakhstan, the new 16-mt-capacity PMKM 8030 truck, with a complete redesign, will be showcased at Bauma, said Hermann Paus Maschinenfabrik GmbH. “The first prototype now has more than 4,500 operational hours,” said Oliver Wilke, sales manager, Hermann Paus Maschinenfabrik. “The reliability of this machine is absolutely tops,” he said. “It is a tiny, productive machine with a powerful setup.”
The third generation of the PMKM 8000 series, the unit features an 8-m3 dump box. The truck is roughly 8 m long from tip to tip, has an articulated chassis and a hydrodynamic drive, and can travel at up to 30 km/h. “You can choose between a Mercedez Benz engine or a Cummins engine with roughly 170 or 173 kW power,” Wilke said. “It has a small envelope size to work easily in small gallery sizes.” Loading cycles are swift. “Lifting time is 10 seconds. Tipping time is 6 seconds,” he said. “So it is supremely fast and easy.”
Maintenance technicians will benefit from use of the diagnostic display. “A report is given and he can check out easily the points and can try to solve the problem quickly,” Wilke said. “On the other hand, the access to all the engine parts is easier, with wide openings,” he said. “The daily service can be done from one point, so he has not to run around the machine.” The Paus Connect telemetrics system is offered. The system uses Wi-fiand is designed to manage connectivity interruptions. “It simply stores the information as long as you are not in range of a Wi-fiaccess point or a GPS GSM module,” said Franz-Josef Paus, executive manager, Hermann Paus Maschinenfabrik. “As soon as there is connection, it throws the data to us.”
The OEM processes the data and reports to the customer. “If he wants us to provide that information permanently, he needs to give us access to his Wi-fisystem so that we have access to the machine at all times,” Paus said. “Most of the customers don’t do that for the time being because there is no universal Wi-fisignals and, if there is, they don’t want any kind of machine in their system,” he said. “But that will change in the next couple of years. I am pretty sure about that.”
The series first launched 30 years ago with the release of the PMKM 8000. “This is really the first time we completely redesigned the entire machine,” Paus said. “The other previous modifications were basically upgrades,” he said. “This time we took the entire machine and made it completely new, with new components, new engines, new axles, and a new cabin.” The new design “combined the best of both worlds,” he said. “As much as possible, it is a very simple unit with not too much electronics to keep it as robust as possible.”
The new truck advances the company mission to develop niche machines. The units typically go to customers with very specific challenges. For example, in late 2021, the OEM supplied a customized PTM 100, a mining production machine with a rotating head, to a Turkish copper mine. The rubber-tired unit is based on a rugged LHD carrier and has a transversal hydraulic cutter head.
“It has a telescopic extension of 500 mm, has a 1-m-wide rotator hydraulic cutter head in front of it, and has an adjustable cabin to have a better overview to the working space,” Wilke said. The unit was originally designed “to level the surface in ore mines with rock hardnesses of 80 and above, to clean the surface and then afterwards grade it with a grader that we have had in our range for more than 10 years,” Paus said. “Every now and then there was a customer that was asking for this if they had this kind of road maintenance job to do,” he said. “Also every now and then one is qualified not for work on the surface of the roads but rather on the face.”
Which was the case with the Turkish mine. The ore was rife with fractures. “The compressive strength of the rock is not so high so that they cannot easily use a rotator,” Wilke said. “Before they had a hydraulic excavator actually with a cutting head in front of it, and it was too unproductive,” he said. “With our machine they can be much more productive than before.” The order came after several visits and consultations. The supplier had previously built a unit for a customer that ultimately balked. The Turkish mine adopted it with some modifications.
The operator benefits from the ease of operation and the lifted, pressurized cabin. “It works much faster than the hydraulic excavator,” Wilke said. “You have an air conditioned, enclosed cab with a good overview,” he said. “And again you have the diagnostic display that gives all the information needed.” The unit has a 224-kW QSL9 Cummins engine in Tier III configuration. “They can move the machine from one face to another really easy and fast,” Wilke said. “This is a point that they really like with the machine.”
“We typically get inquiries like this: ‘We have an idea and can you provide a machine for this?’” Paus said. Based on the “job or application, the entire features of the machine are defined,” he said. “We then look for a platform within our vehicle range. Do we have something in terms of drive line, engine and overall size that we can basically use for this new application? That is what we did in this case.” The OEM is also preparing to launch in 2023 the next generation of the popular Universa 50 carrier. “This is next on the agenda here, and the design department has completely redesigned one of our most successful product lines for all kinds of applications and in three different sizes,” Paus said. “We are going to redo the line, and we may have for those customers that we know some internal information at Bauma, but only as a very preliminary preview.”
Powerful Loader for
Caterpillar reported the Cat R1300G loader offers top performance in tight galleries. The smallest model in its line, it has a 6.8-mt payload capacity and offers 12,000 kg of breakout force. “With its 117-kW engine, the R1300G brings maximum production capability to smaller mines,” Caterpillar said. “It also delivers faster cycle times at just 9.3 seconds.” The unit is designed for a lower total cost of ownership. “As with other Cat LHD models, it’s built to be rebuilt to lower cost-per-ton operation over the loader’s life,” Caterpillar said.
The loader features a vertically integrated design, something the company says offers a performance advantage. “The R1300G’s performance isn’t restricted by third-party component integration, as we design and manufacture the major power and drivetrain components ourselves,” Caterpillar said. “Plus, it has a larger, 295-l fuel tank to offer longer runtime between refills.” The LHD has a fully sloped rear section for sufficient ground clearance when going from level surfaces to a ramp, which improves component longevity. “The Caterpillar- designed drivetrain boasts four forward and reverse speeds in its electronically controlled powershift transmission,” the supplier said. “The operator has the choice between manual or auto shift modes for optimum machine performance, and the brake pedal allows the operator to engage the service brakes to neutralize the transmission, maintaining high engine RPM to enhance digging and loading.”
Designed for use in small galleries, the R1300G has a 2.8-m inner turn radius. “Offering a 42.5° articulation angle, the loader’s hitch features sealed joints to retain lubrication and prevent contaminant entry, resulting in a lower maintenance design,” Caterpillar said. “Its upper and lower hitch pins pivot on roller bearings to distribute horizontal and vertical loads over a greater surface area.” The LHD has five bucket options, four dump and one ejector, with capacities ranging from 2.4 to 3.4 m3. “Mounting for both bucket designs incorporate sealed, collected pins that are fitted to all bucket and lift arm hinge points to deliver longer pin and bushing life, reduce maintenance costs, and extend service intervals,” the OEM said. “The machine has a greater dump angle for better and faster bucket emptying.”
New Cat Bolt-On Half-Arrow ground engaging tools (GET) offer superior hardness compared to welded components and deliver best-in-class lip protection with fewer parts than competitive systems, reducing maintenance costs, the supplier reported. “Individual segments of the new Cat Modular Segment Welded GET System are configured to form lip assemblies that cover all LHD size classes,” Caterpillar said. “With wear indicators visible from the topside, the modular shrouds deliver welded part reliability with the replacement simplicity of a mechanical system.”
The cab is ROPS- and FOPS-certified, and is mounted to the frame, reducing vibrations. “A low-effort, pilot-operated joystick implement control with simultaneous lift and tilt functions optimizes operating efficiency,” Cat said. “Our STIC control system integrates both steering and transmission functions into a single controller for maximum machine responsiveness and smooth control.” Optional ride control dampens lift arm and bucket movements when on rough ground to improve cycle times and load retention.
The R1300G can be shipped equipped with the Cat Remote Control Interface option. The package includes the interface kit, valve groups, ABA transmission switch and remote light. “It reduces field installation time of available remote-control systems to minimize machine downtime,” Caterpillar said.
The loader has large grab handles, offering safe access to the rear top deck from the cab or hydraulic tank. “Simplifying servicing and reducing time spent for routine maintenance, easy access is offered to daily service points, and all tanks, filters, lubrication points, and compartment drains are conveniently accessed from ground level,” the company said. “The use of Cat Electronic Technician enables quick electronic diagnosis of machine performance and key diagnostic data for effective loader maintenance and repairs.”