Situated in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia, Tomingley Gold Operations has produced more than 600,000oz of gold since undertaking its first pour in 2014. Open cut mining commenced on the Alkane Resources-owned site in 2013, and a transition to underground mining was achieved in 2019.
When the lifespan of the site was recently extended to 2032 with approval for both a new underground and a new open cut mine, Tomingley's operators were keen to source equipment that was both durable and would improve productivity. They purchased a Sandvik DL432i longhole drill in 2021 and have since purchased two Sandvik DD422i dual control jumbos and a Sandvik DL422i longhole drill.
The investment has paid off with the advanced Sandvik machines helping the operation to increase underground performance, with potential benefits for its bottom line.
"The jumbo numbers [we have achieved] are a 10 to 12% improvement in performance, and that's put down to the drill rig itself," Tomingley Gold Operations' general manager, Jason Hughes, said.
Simpler from an operator and maintenance perspective
Hughes said the decision to go with Sandvik iSeries drills was largely based on the improvements they would provide in terms of automation and control. "With the iSeries we have less requirement from both an operator and also from a maintenance perspective. And we're able to get equivalent performance from less experienced people and maintain normal production rates."
Michael Parker, maintenance superintendent for Tomingley Gold Operations, said having a fleet of Sandvik drills also makes servicing easier and reduces stock requirements. And he is impressed by the drills' advanced features.
"One of my favourite features about the 422 DL and DD models would be the ability to limit access through the GUI graphical user interface panel," he said. "This allows us to maintain continuous production outputs thanks to minimal interference with drilling and maintenance settings."
Recipes for quality assurance
Mine manager Andrew Brown also pointed to the easy implementation of drill ‘recipes' on the development drills - the pre-existing work settings for drilling pressures and speeds that can help maintain drilling consistency.
"The technology that I find appealing - and why we did lean down the drill control path for the development drills - is being able to engage the recipes," he said. "That's been a key part in ensuring our operators and green operators get up to speed quickly."
With the DLs, we've seen an increase of getting operators up to skill quicker
Tomingley drill operator Greg Roger said transitioning to the new advanced rigs from earlier Sandvik models is also simple. "The best part about them being all the same controls, is you can hop off a Sandvik 420 or 421, and everything's reasonably familiar," he said. "All your levers are all the same. Everything's a touch of a button away. They're pretty foolproof that way. The advantages are they're a lot more comfortable, they're quieter, they're faster."
Mick Forrester, product specialist for underground drills at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said he had seen first-hand the impact iSeries drills have had on the Tomingley operation. "With the DLs, we've seen an increase of getting operators up to skill quicker, which has then helped Tomingley get their production metres and meet the targets that they require. Same as with the DD 422 with dual controls."
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