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Redpath Mining Africa forges ahead with Southern African raiseboring division
23 February 2017
Redpath Mining Africa forges ahead with Southern African raiseboring division

The Redpath Mining raiseboring manufacturing team has continued to innovate, develop, and deliver the latest technology to the mining industry, resulting in the Redbore family of raisedrills. Since the inception of Redpath Mining’s raiseboring division within Southern Africa two years, the company has begun to reap the benefits of this innovative range of drilling equipment, developed for the most efficient excavating process possible.

Redpath Mining Africa currently has the largest raisebore machine in the world, the Redbore 100, in operation at the Synclinorium Vent Shaft Project for Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia. In addition, the mining contracting and engineering company has several raiseboring machines at work in Africa.

“Even though the market has been quite depressed, we have grown to the tune of 40% year-on-year,” Redpath Mining Africa Managing Director Ockert Douglas comments. “Our strategy was to secure projects locally, so that the South African business could be in a comfortable position, at which point we began to look for opportunities outside the country.”

This resulted in Redpath Mining Africa’s long-term involvement with Mopani Copper Mines, for which it is undertaking three projects. Commencing in 2014, the Synclinorium Vent Shaft Project is scheduled for completion within 2017. The shaft is 6.1 m in diameter, and is being completed in two legs, of which the longest is 738 m. “We have completed the first leg, and are currently busy with the second,” Redpath Mining General Manager of Raiseboring Johan Davel states.

At Mindola Deeps, Redpath Mining Africa is raise drilling a 2 000 m vertical shaft in four legs of 500 m each. The company has currently completed two legs, and is busy with the third. “This is the first time in the world that a 2 000 m shaft is being raise bored,” Davel highlights.

Lastly, Redpath Mining Africa is involved in a joint venture project with Rig Resources Zambia, undertaking development, long-hole drilling and stoping work for Mopani Copper Mines at Nkana Mine and Mufulira Mine.

Redpath Mining Africa’s successful collaboration with Mopani Copper Mines is helping increase awareness about raise drilling in the African mining industry. “A significant feature of our raisebore machines is that they are low-profile,” Davel points out. Fully extended, the Redbore 100 has a height of only 7.6 m.

“What this means from an operational cost-saving point of view is that, if a client wants to put a machine underground, he does not need to blast as large a hole in order to accommodate it. That is a huge benefit in terms of saving time and money,” Davel adds.

With energy-saving a major driver in the African mining industry, Redpath Mining’s raisebore machines all feature variable speed electric drives, which reduce energy consumption by 25% to 30%, compared to traditional hydraulically-driven units. “In addition, our machines are extremely safe, as they all feature automated rod handlers,” Davel adds.

Billed as the ‘crown jewel’ of the series, the Redbore 100 is the most powerful, largest-capacity proven raiseboring system ever manufactured by Redpath Mining. The Redbore 100 has to ability to bore raises of up to 8 m in diameter and to depths exceeding 1 000 m.

When skipping capacity and drift dimensions are of concern, the machine can be dismantled fully for ease of transportation. It also features state-of-the-art electronics and PLC control systems, allowing unprecedented control over the drilling process.

The development of the Redbore series is integral to the company’s philosophy of modernisation and mechanisation. “We are a frontrunner in terms of reducing the human element in sinking development work. Our sinking methodology differs from the traditional, tried-and-tested way,” Davel explains.  

“Redpath Mining is represented on all continents, which bolsters the entire group in terms of technological development. In South Africa, for example, we are able to draw expertise from Australia, Canada, North and South America, and even Europe, where we are undertaking massive projects. In Indonesia, we are working on one of the largest sinking projects in the world. Being able to access that level of innovation is a major advantage for us,” Douglas stresses.

An example of this ongoing development is the Redtrax raise drill carrier, which can blind-bore a 1.6 m diameter shaft. “The major advantage of this machine is that it has the ability to swing 360 degrees and carry out conventional raise boring as well,” Davel notes.  The current Redtrax model can accommodate a number of drills on the market, but is designed to host the Redbore 30, 40, 50 and 70 raisedrills. Future Redtrax models are currently on the drawing board for the remainder of the Redbore fleet.

“Our total solution offering for the African mining industry is based on the fact that we understand local conditions fully, including all regulations and stipulations. We are able to supplement this unique understanding with the latest international technology, such as the Redtrax. This results in a significant amount of knowledge transfer on international projects, which is of huge benefit to the continent,” Douglas concludes.

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