The Atlas Copco ROC L8-64 RC Drill in the Australian outback.
The international demand for RC drilling is increasing due to the arrival of equipment that is more versatile and cost effective with greater exploration ability. Drilling technological innovations, according to Megan Wild in Five Game-Changing Advancements in Construction, have seen 'the combination of hardware and software is able to streamline the entire process while simultaneously improving accuracy and efficiency.'
This sentiment is echoed by Atlas Copco who in 2012 invested 24% more in product development than in previous years. Their range of RC drilling rigs has been praised for obtaining consistently high-quality rock samples with speed and efficiency.
There are several RC Drilling rigs offered by Atlas to suit different applications out in the field.
The Explorac R50 is an extremely well-proven rig purpose-built for DTH drilling providing the driller more efficient working hours, and less downtime. Its high accessibility and reliability make it particularly interesting for drillers operating in remote areas. The rig can drill with dual wall drillpipes with OD 4" or 4 1/2" up to lengths of 3 m. It can work with air system pressures up to 25 bar and can also be supplied with a mudpump for rotary drilling
The Explorac 100RC drill rig is based on well-proven technology. It has a rugged and compact design, which makes it easy to move around even in rough terrain and features low noise level for improved safety and work environment. Yet drillers will enjoy the power necessary to get more quality samples out of the ground faster. It is suitable for exploration drilling to depths of 100–200 meters and has a lifting capacity of 10.5 tonnes.
The Explorac 220RC takes over much of the physical effort required from the driller. With the one and a half tonne winch, which positions directly over the hole and the one and a half ton handling winch on a slewing boom. In addition, it features automatic pipe handling, double stage compressor, sliding dumping system and a remote control panel which can be positioned up to 10 metres from the rig, providing unequalled operator safety.
The Explorac 235 rig meets all the challenges of exploration with reverse circulation. While designed specifically for reverse circulation drilling to depths of 300-400 meters, the rig can easily be adapted for different down-the-hole drilling.
"The launch of Explorac 235 is a firm response to increasing demand for personal safety and environmental care. It offers the efficiency and performance required by contractors, such as fast setup and drilling speeds, easy maintenance, reduced noise levels and minimum oil spillage, and enables the collection of high-quality samples requested by geologists," says Martin Sommers, Vice President Marketing – Capital Equipment at Atlas Copco Geotechnical Drilling and Exploration division.
The ROC L8-64 RC drill is a versatile rig which offers a carousel depth capacity of 54 metres, capable of 100m+ with carousel reload. It also employs an automated rod handling and rod break out system while remaining very versatile allowing it to quickly convert to drill Blast Hole. Castle Drilling, a heavy user of this rig, stated that
'The track based drill platform is able to offer access to difficult terrain, with the most minimal environmental impact, and is capable of high levels of safe production through automated processes and machine design.'
The RD10+ is a hydraulic tophead drive exploration drill designed for deep hole RC drilling. It can be used to access mineral deposits around 1200 m (4000 ft) deep. Incorporating many robust features, allowing a high speed and perfect for moving between sites along freeways due to its compact design.
The expanding Atlas Copco range is taking advantage of the RC drilling method which is undergoing continuous technical development that will result in RC drilling being applied to deeper holes and more difficult geological conditions. The RC drilling method uses high torques, high pressures, big lifting capacities and rapid collection of samples, so safety is a major factor in the ongoing design process.
Hopefully, the whole industry can continue to apply the safety, efficiency and environmentally friendly trend that seems to be growing in recent years.