According to Björn Rosengren, senior executive vice president of Atlas Copco’s construction and mining division, not only has the company continued to see very strong demand from the mining sector over the past year, it has not cut back on product development during the general economic downturn. Neither, he added, have Atlas Copco’s aftermarket sales been affected, with most of the big mining companies and contractors now outsourcing their service requirements for heavy equipment.

On a regional basis, Rosengren said, Atlas Copco has experienced more than 500% growth in its construction and mining business from Asia over recent years, with the market in China continuing to grow while the rest of the world worked its way through the recession. To put things into perspective, he continued, it is important to remember that between them, India and China dominated world GDP until about 150 years ago; having then been overtaken by the western industrialized countries, they are now heading back toward their traditional position.

With the prospect of demand being maintained for high-end equipment, the company is building in Nanjing a new parts center to service the Asian region, as well as an R&D center that will effectively duplicate its existing facility at Örebro in Sweden. Corporate strategy is to make China Atlas Copco’s second home market, Rosengren said.

While many of the company’s recent developments covered at its briefing are destined for use in construction, two areas do have specific relevance for mining and quarrying. Atlas Copco’s purchase last September of the Austrian crusher specialist, Hartl, has been covered in an earlier edition of E&MJ (November 2010, p.40); in drilling technology, Secoroc recently introduced new tricone bits and a new DTH hammer that together comprise its PARD system for blastholes.

The rationale behind the Hartl acquisition, said Andreas Malmberg, was the logical progression from drilling.  Atlas Copco’s divisional president for surface drilling equipment, Malmberg explained the company now has the capability of controlling rock size reduction right through from drilling to crushing. Mobile crushing is, he claimed, 15% cheaper than using stationary units—the savings coming from lower loading and hauling costs with trucks being replaced by conveyors for bulk material handling.

Meanwhile, Secoroc’s PARD system combines a high-frequency, low-impact DTH hammer and a specially designed tricone drill bit, mounted onto a standard rotary drill rig and drill string. The result is a significant increase in the rate of penetration, with some case studies having shown increases of up to 50%, Malmberg said. Designed for large mines and quarries where blast holes from 9-7/8 to 12-1/4 in. (250–311 mm) are standard, PARD is currently available in two sizes with a comprehensive selection of tricone bits.

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