Rob Parsons, general manager at NSMS, said: "The collaboration with Minnovare initially stemmed from the observation that too much time was being spent re-drilling holes [due to inaccuracy]. The other problem we identified was the difference between the drill rig's onboard inclinometers, and what was actually being drilled. It was most visible looking at the final stope pick up - the actual shape didn't line up with what you had designed. So, we were doing extra work just to validate where things really were."
Minnovare's Production Optimiser system combines advanced hardware and software that can significantly enhance the speed, accuracy and reliability of long-hole production drilling - leading to improved stope productivity and ultimately, increased profitability.
The system can be retrofitted to any make or model of drill rig and works independently of the rig's onboard systems.
Parson stated: "We achieved, on average, 100 additional drill metres per day in the two months immediately after implementing the new technology, thanks to reduced rig setup time and re-drills. That's roughly a 17% increase in drilled metres. During the same period we reduced average blast-hole deviation (from planned toe-point) by 75%.
"In terms of stope ore recovery, those two months combined were the highest average for the life of the operation. The increased drill rate and stope ore-recovery equates to an approximate 3.5% reduction in stope turnover time. This may not seem like a lot, but if we can maintain that rate over a 12-month period, that represents about 5,000 additional ounces and around A$8.4 million [US$6.1 million] additional revenue at the current gold price."
Callum McCracken, managing director at Minnovare, said: "Minnovare worked closely with Northern Star from day one to successfully implement the Production Optimiser on site. As the drillers and engineers continued to use the system they've seen further gains in drilled metres and a continuation of the improved recovery rate. That's thanks to optimal blasts and a faster stope turnover, which is a direct consequence of greater drilling accuracy, speed and reliability."
Mick Beilby, commercial director at Minnovare, added: "We're really pleased with the initial results from Northern Star. It's further validation of this new technology and further proof of the impact it can have on the bottom line of any underground drill and blast operation."