Tropicana conversion involves a proven solution and agile approach.

Customer Problem

With the Tropicana open-cut gold mine in remote Western Australia, the challenge for FLANDERS was to fully automate the latest CAT MD6250 rotary drill and control it from a remote command centre at the mine.

The project was a three-way collaboration involving FLANDERS, AngloGold Ashanti, and the drill owner/contractor Macmahon.

The conversion had to ensure that the drill could effectively operate in broken ground, hard rock and groundwater, and the hole collaring had to meet the mine standard without needing re-drills.

As well as that, Macmahon expected an instantaneous penetration rate equal to or above that of the manned rigs at the site in similar ground conditions.

The project involved a drill relatively new to the market, with down-the-hole hammer mode and multi-pass rod changes key delivery features.

Our Solution

The Tropicana mine is located 330 kilometres east-northeast of Kalgoorlie and produced 512,000oz in 2019. It is a joint venture between AngloGold Ashanti and IGO Ltd.

Working in partnership with AngloGold Ashanti and Macmahon, FLANDERS was able to utilise its proven ARDVARC® drill control system quickly and effectively to integrate it with the CAT MD6250 fully.

The solution also involved the integration of the drill with the site’s LTE mobile communication network.

FLANDERS achieved a full conversion — from design to installation and commissioning of the drill and the remote command centre — in only eight weeks.

As part of the service, FLANDERS product support specialists were onsite 100% of the time. They were able to offer continual feedback to the development team, as well as provide after-hours remote support for the duration of the trial.

All up, five drills were set to be converted by mid-August 2020, taking only 10 months from start to finish.

In terms of results, the FLANDERS One Touch auto drilling control achieved an instantaneous penetration rate 8% higher than manual drilling over a one-month period.

On top of that was the obvious benefit of re-locating operators away from harsh and potentially unsafe environments and having them remotely operate the drills.

The benefits of working with us

AngloGold Ashanti initiated the Tropicana project, and the successful installation is a testament to the benefits of a working partnership based on continuous improvement.

It involved a staged approach that suited the contractor’s business model and delivered value quickly to clients.

“One of the reasons contractors seek us out is that FLANDERS can provide an agnostic solution for drill automation, and we can customise our systems to suit the contractor’s needs,” says Mike Lane, General Manager of FLANDERS in Western Australia.

“Another of our strengths is our agility and ability to adapt to complex and changing circumstances.

“On top of that, we are world leaders in drill automation with more than 15 years of experience in autonomous drilling, and our Western Australian Regional Service Centre specialises in drill automation.

“Flanders looks forward to serving the Tropicana operation and achieving sustained results.

“The partnership is proof that FLANDERS fits the mould of what a contractor requires in terms of agility and an already proven solution.”