Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara

Swedish mining equipment maker Epiroc has won a SK130 million (US$15.4 million) order from Rio Tinto for autonomous drilling systems to be used at Rio’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara, Australia.
Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara Rio orders Epiroc's autonomous drills for the Pilbara

The Epiroc Pit Viper 271 (left) and SmartROC D65 (right)

Rio Tinto has ordered "several" Pit Viper 271 and SmartROC D65 blast-hole drill rigs, Epiroc said without giving exact fleet numbers.

"Rio Tinto is a long-standing customer of Epiroc that is highly focused on innovation and sustainability. Epiroc is proud to be able to support the company on its continuous journey toward higher productivity and optimal safety," says Helena Hedblom, Epiroc's President and CEO.

The Pit Viper 271 offers rotary tricone and down the hole drilling of 171mm to 270mm (6-3/4" to 10-5/8 ") holes with up to 18 m (59 ft) clean hole single pass capability.

The blast-hole rig also provides on-board automation capability as part of the standard drill package.

Using Epiroc's Rig Control System, miners can run with the operator off the drill with the optional BenchREMOTE package allowing one operator to run one or multiple units. 

Automation is available with an operator on board - for options like auto drill and auto level.

A  high-precision GPS hole navigation system imports drill plans to RCS and ensures that each blasthole is positioned with accuracies of up to ±3.9 in (±10cm).

Launched in June 2019, the updated fully autonomous SmartROC D65 features automated drilling and rod handling, and an automation-ready platform that includes the new Auto Feed Fold feature. Auto Feed Fold allows the operator to fold the feed for tramming or position it for drilling, which is useful when operating one or more drill rigs remotely.