Over the past six months or so, several well-known drill-rig manufacturers have released new or upgraded models to fill gaps in their product lines, comply with applicable safety codes or tailor model configurations and capabilities to specific markets.

Boart Longyear, for example, recently introduced its newest surface exploration rig, the LX11, as an economical multipurpose unit that offers improved safety features, track propulsion, a smaller footprint, and overall lower cost of ownership. The mid-sized LX11 joins an existing line of multipurpose rigs that includes the LX6 and the LX16. Capable of drilling in both reverse circulation (RC) and diamond core modes, the LX11 allows exploration drillers to use just one drill rig when working in variable ground conditions.

The LX11 can reach depths of 1,450 m (4,750 ft) using NQ rods for core drilling and 325 m (1,065 ft) using 114-mm (4.5-in.) rods for RC drilling. A 7.2-m (23.6-ft) mast and a top drive head allow 6-m (13-ft) rods to be pulled under the head for increased productivity. A top drive single rotary drill head provides up to 1,200 rpm rotation and maximum torque of 7.8 kNm (5,800 ft-lb) at 100 rpm.

Safety features incorporated into the LX11 include a strategically placed control panel for operator visibility, a remote control for maneuvering the rig safely from a distance and an interlocked safety cage to protect drillers from the rotating drill string. The LX11 can be equipped with a rod handler for both RC and diamond coring rods.

The small footprint of the LX11 allows for easier site access and maneuverability. It is designed to be shippable in a 12-m (40-ft) container, making it economical to deploy to remote locations.

Enhanced safety features, as well as technical updates, also have been designed into two exploration rigs recently unveiled by Sandvik: the DE712, which is the latest in the company’s line of DE700 series surface exploration drills; and the DE130x.

The DE712 is based on the existing DE710 rig, and retains popular features offered by that model, including:

  • Depth capacity of 1,126 m (3,693 ft);
  • Pull force of 9.3 mt and feed force of 5.5 mt;
  • Continuous torque rating of 475 Nm (350 lb-ft) at 1,500 rpm; and
  • Compact design allowing it to fit in a standard 40-ft container.

Key upgrades in the DE712 include:

  • European Union CE certification;
  • ROPS certified operator compartment (roll-over protective structure);
  • Hydraulically operated left- and right-hand walkways; and
  • EU Stage III CARB / EPA Tier 3 diesel.

Additional safety features built into the DDE712 include lever guards to reduce risk of accidental operation, a mast access package that provides a fall-arrest system and mast platform, and an alarm for jack leg operation. Rig access has been improved for easier maintenance and extra guards have been fitted for safer work environment.

The DE712 features a more powerful engine, rated at 142 kW (190 hp) at 2,200 rpm. Sturdy hydraulic pumps and motors in independent open loop circuits, along with larger hydraulic valves and piping, provide higher energy efficiency and precise control of critical drilling functions.

The new DE130x is a fully certified exploration drill rig for underground coal applications and is compliant with current ATEX standards. Its design is based on Sandvik’s popular DE130 core drill. According to the company, its modular layout, depth capacity of 815 m (2,674 ft) N-size rod capacity, feed force of 4.7 mt and pull force of 6.3 mt, makes the DE130x a highly capable rig. Additional features include an extra gauge for rod holder surveillance on the control panel and a wire emergency stop on the feed boom for increased safety.