By Steve Fiscor, editor-in-chief

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—Electra Mining, Africa’s largest mining exposition, opened this week in Johannesburg. Several equipment manufacturers and service providers showcased new products at the event, which takes place every two years and attracts thousands from around the world.

On Monday, September 10, Sandvik unleashed a leopard. Lars Engström, president of Sandvik’s Mining and Rock Technology business area unveiled the Leopard DI650i down-the-hole (DTH) drill rig. Sandvik’s latest Leopard is designed for demanding high-capacity production drilling applications in surface mining, as well as large-scale quarry applications.

“This product launch reflects the focus of all of our product development efforts — enhanced safety and serviceability — and new intelligent functions,” Engström said.

Pipe sizes for this machine range from 89 mm to 140 mm, depending on the size of the hammer. The maximum hole depth is 53.6 m when using the carousel option. A single-integrated touch-screen monitors diagnostics and mining automation displays. The Leopard’s silent, ergonomic iCAB cabin provides the rig operator with a safer, more productive working environment. The maintenance crew can carry out all daily servicing tasks at ground level on both sides of the machine. Sandvik said the advanced serviceability and reliability features could increase availability by up to 20%.

Day two at Electra Mining Africa focused on the launch of new technology and innovations at the show. More than 60 products were reviewed across three categories. Kal Tire’s Gravity Assist System received top honors in the category of International Mechanical and Technology Innovation for its simplicity and effectiveness.

The average mining tire has a lot of lug nuts. Until now, support for the hefty 36-kg torque gun came through the sheer strength of the tire technician. The Gravity Assist System renders the torque gun “weightless,” making the process much more safe, efficient and precise. The system reduces common risks associated with torque gun tasks, such as injured fingers, muscle strain and fatigue.

Speaking at a breakfast held during day two of Electra Mining 2018, Jan de Beer, executive manager of Reutech Mining, explained that it is possible to increase both productivity and profitability, while creating a zero-harm environment. He added that the increased implementation of modern technology can contribute to this drive.

For 14 years, South African-based Reutech Mining has been helping address the safety risks relating to falls of ground in open-pit mines. In 2006, Reutech Mining launched the first-generation Movement and Surveying Radar (MSR). Today, the company delivers products for fall of ground in both underground and surface applications.

The Sub-Surface Profiler (SSP) is a frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) ground-penetrating radar system. The SSP weighs a mere 4.5 kg, can scan up to 10 m into the rock face, and has no cables, with information being transmitted to a tablet or laptop computer in real time. This enables the client to analyze the data and make informed decisions while underground.

Reutech Mining also displayed the third generation of the MSR. According to the company, it’s the fastest-scanning real aperture radar capable of detecting sub-millimeter movement up to 4,000 m away from the rock face.

“Working hand in hand with the mining industry, Reutech Mining plans to expand its product range in 2019 to offer the mining industry more options to ensure that it keeps moving closer to the ideal of zero harm,” De Beer said.

South Africa-based explosives supplier BME showcased its AXXIS Centralized Blasting System (CBS) for underground applications. The system allows miners to initiate a blast from a safe location. The system also allows real-time location monitoring with remote access capabilities. Electra Mining runs until 5 p.m. on September 14.