The fuel cost killer of Queensland

Mining contractor DDQ of Queensland, Australia has slashed fuel costs dramatically since adding a new Atlas Copco Pit Viper 235 rotary drill rig to its fleet. The secret is in the clutch.

Nigel De Veth, owner of DDQ, is delighted with the fuel savings and other advantages of the Pit Viper 235.

About 75 000 dollars in three months. 1 000 liters every 24 hours. Half a million dollars per year … these are the kind of fuel savings now being experi-enced by Australian mining contractor Deveth Drilling Queensland (DDQ) after adding a new drill rig to its fleet.
DDQ is benefiting from the first class economy of Atlas Copco’s Pit Viper 235 rotary rig – and is passing these savings on to its client, the New Hope Corporation and its New Acland coal mine.
Nigel De Veth, owner and founder of DDQ, says: “In the first three months alone we’ve saved the mine 75 000 (AUD) in fuel, and that was through a trial period, really just phasing the machine into the work. The potential savings are over 1 000 liters every 24 hours so you’re looking in the vicinity of half a million dollars a year.”
The low fuel consumption was a decisive factor behind the company’s decision to purchase the PV-235. De Veth adds: “We’re now getting about 50 to 55 liters an hour with this rig and the main contributor to that is the wet clutch technology on the compressor.”

Push-button economy

The hydraulically operated automatic clutch (patent pending) is an outstanding feature of this hydraulic tophead drive rig which can be configured to perform a range of rotary and DTH drilling operations.
“With the PV-235 you don’t get air unless you ask for air, so if you want air for drilling, you press the button and the clutch engages and the compressor throws in. So the compressor is only ever used when you want it,” explains De Veth.
He continues: “Atlas Cocpo has replaced all the rod greasers and air greasers, etc, with electric pumps so they are not reliant on air. There’s nothing on the machine that relies on air other than your drill bit.”
DDQ has been operating at the New Acland coal mine for about four years and introduced the PV-235 there in February 2012, drilling mainly 229 mm blastholes to a depth of 50 m.
“The best that we’ve drilled so far is close to 1 200 meters in 10 hours and I think there’s much better to come yet,” says De Veth. “The guys have only just finished getting used to it and things are starting to happen. We’re probably looking at 10 meters an hour more with this machine.”

Key to the efficient operation of the compressor and other functions of the high-tech rig is the Atlas Copco Rig Control System (RCS). This system also facilitates wireless remote tramming, auto-levelling, auto-drilling, remote reporting functions and GPS navigation.
Other factors underpinning De Veth’s confidence in the Pit Viper includes the single-pass drilling capability. “Just the advantage of being able to drill a 12.2 m clean, single hole with the lead rod has been very advantageous to us with some of the interburden shots,” he says. “The new breakout system on the machine is unbelievable – it is better than anything we’ve seen before. The drill is just a lot quicker and smoother to operate.”
But there’s also another important benefit, De Veth says. “The operators don’t get tired. Everything is easy and accessible from the seat so you come out of the drill still fresh and alert. And that’s a big thing on the night shift.”
Besides the PV-235, the drill fleet consists of two DM25 rigs, one DML HP and two bigger PV-275, delivered in 2013. Atlas Copco has supplied more than a dozen Pit Viper rigs to customers in Queensland, all equipped with the computerised RCS control system.