Alkane Resource’s NSW gold operation has increased underground productivity by at least 10 percent with the introduction of automated Sandvik iSeries drill rigs.
Situated in the Central West region of New South Wales, Tomingley Gold Operations has produced more than 600,000 ounces of gold since undertaking its first pour back in 2014. Open cut mining commenced on the Alkane Resources-owned site in 2013, and a transition to underground mining was achieved in 2019.
When the lifespan of the site was recently extended to 2032 with approval for both a new underground and a new open cut mine, Tomingley’s operators were keen to source equipment that was both durable and would improve productivity. They purchased a Sandvik DL432i longhole drill in 2021 and have since purchased two Sandvik DD422i dual control jumbos and a Sandvik DL422i longhole drill.
The investment has paid off with the advanced Sandvik machines helping the operation to increase underground performance, with potential benefits for its bottom line.
‘’The jumbo numbers [we have achieved] are a 10 to 12 percent improvement in performance, and that’s put down to the drill rig itself,” says General Manager for Tomingley Gold Operations, Jason Hughes.
Simpler from an operator and maintenance perspective
Mr Hughes says the decision to go with Sandvik iSeries drills was largely based on the improvements they would provide in terms of automation and control. “With the iSeries we have less requirement from both an operator and also from a maintenance perspective. And we’re able to get equivalent performance from less experienced people and maintain normal production rates.”
Michael Parker, Maintenance Superintendent for Tomingley Gold Operations, says having a fleet of Sandvik drills also makes servicing easier and reduces stock requirements. And he is impressed by the drills’ advanced features.
“One of my favourite features about the 422 DL and DD models would be the ability to limit access through the GUI graphical user interface panel,” he says. “This allows us to maintain continuous production outputs thanks to minimal interference with drilling and maintenance settings.”
Recipes for quality assurance
Mine Manager Andrew Brown also points to the easy implementation of drill ‘recipes’ on the development drills – the pre-existing work settings for drilling pressures and speeds that can help maintain drilling consistency.
“The technology that I find appealing – and why we did lean down the drill control path for the development drills – is being able to engage the recipes,” he says. “That’s been a key part in ensuring our operators and green operators get up to speed quickly.”
Tomingley drill operator Greg Roger says transitioning to the new advanced rigs from earlier Sandvik models is also simple. “The best part about them being all the same controls, is you can hop off a Sandvik 420 or 421, and everything’s reasonably familiar,” he says. “All your levers are all the same. Everything’s a touch of a button away. They’re pretty foolproof that way. The advantages are they’re a lot more comfortable, they’re quieter, they’re faster.”
Mick Forrester, Product Specialist for Underground Drills at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, says he has seen first-hand the impact iSeries drills have had on the Tomingley operation. “With the DLs, we’ve seen an increase of getting operators up to skill quicker, which has then helped Tomingley get their production meters and meet the targets that they require. Same as with the DD 422 with dual controls.”
Sandvik is a global, high-tech engineering group providing solutions that enhance productivity, profitability and sustainability for the manufacturing, mining and infrastructure industries. We are at the forefront of digitalization and focus on optimizing our customers’ processes. Our world-leading offering includes equipment, tools, services and digital solutions for machining, mining, rock excavation and rock processing. In 2022 the Group had approximately 40,000 employees and revenues of about 112 billion SEK in about 150 countries within continuing operations.
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a business area within the Sandvik Group and a global leading supplier of equipment and tools, parts, service, digital solutions and sustainability-driving technologies for the mining and construction industries. Application areas include rock drilling, rock cutting, loading and hauling, tunneling and quarrying. In 2022, sales were approximately 57 billion SEK with about 16,200 employees.
About Tomingley Gold Operations
Owned by Alkane Resources Ltd, Tomingley Gold Operations lies approximately 50 kilometres southwest of Dubbo in the Central West region of NSW. Open cut mining commenced in 2013 and underground mining in 2019.
The operation was initially due to end in 2025, but the Tomingley Gold Extension Project approved in 2023 will see operations continue until at least 2032. The project involves development of an underground mine at Roswell and one large open cut pit.
About Sandvik iSeries drills
Sandvik DL422i is a fully automated longhole drill, designed for underground mass mining in 4 x 4 meter or larger production drifts. It is capable of drilling vertical and inclined fans and single or parallel Ø89-127 mm longholes up to 54 m in depth using ST58 and ST68 tube rods.
Sandvik DL432i is a fully-mechanized, highly versatile and compact electro-hydraulic top hammer longhole drill designed for underground mass mining in 3.4 x 3.4 metre or larger production drifts. It is capable of drilling vertical and inclined fans and single or parallel Ø64…102 mm longholes up to 38 meters in depth, using T38, T45 and T51 MF-rods or Ø65 mm/T45 and Ø76 mm/ST58 tube rods
Sandvik DD422i is an advanced multipurpose development drill providing a high level of performance for underground mine development and small scale tunnelling, including comprehensive drilling and ground support features.