Automated face drilling in the mining environment

Ilpo Kalevi Nieminen

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis (University Course)


Drilling and blasting is a very important and commonly used method for excavating tunnels, especially in medium and hard rock conditions. The drill and blast process involves several consecutive stages. Face drilling is the method used for drilling holes in the face of the tunnel cross-sections for blasting. Construction tunnelling customers began seeking productivity and cost savings several years ago, and cost savings in face drilling have been found through increased use of automation, while mining customers have not started requesting automatic features so much. In tunnelling, the key element for the operation is to maximise the utilisa- tion of the face. Mines offer several faces for face drilling, and no single phase has as great an effect on overall productivity as the overall management of the process and operations does. This is why maximising the utilisation of the equipment is so important in mining. In face drilling, savings can be achieved with instrumented face drilling rigs when the accuracy and repeatability of the drilling are improved. The advance of the round becomes better, which means better productivity. With less overbreak and underbreak, cost savings are created via reduction in the amount of material that must be loaded and hauled and through the smaller amount and better quality of surface sprayed. The same principles are valid in mining as in tunnelling; the main difference is that the main cost savings in tunnelling come from the smaller amount of overbreak for filling with concrete. In mining, filling is not needed. The productivity improvements in mining are linked more to process-related issues and the better advance of the round. More accurate drilling improves the advance per round, especially if greater hole lengths can be used. With minimisation of the need for repairs, the smaller amount of underbreak has a huge impact on the overall process. Remotely operated drilling rigs create flexibility in production scheduling since shift changes and ventilation breaks too can be used for drilling. Also, a 3D scanning system assembled on-board and connected to the control system of the face drilling jumbo removes one phase from the process, and a separate scanning and measurement phase can be limited to only periodic checks. Associated benefits can be reaped if drill plans and the productivity and quality data can be collected directly from the face drilling jumbo and conveyed straight to the mine development department and management in a form ready for use in decisions on further actions.
Translated title of the contributionAutomated face drilling in the mining environment
Original languageEnglish
  • Moser, Peter, Supervisor (internal)
Award date23 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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