Sandvik Mining & Construction and Indiana, USA-based Flanders Electric have formed a partnership to automate surface mining drill rigs and provide autonomous operation.

Flanders’ ARDVARC systems have been installed on numerous blasthole drills around the world. For factory-supplied systems on new Sandvik drills, the initial automation modules will be offered starting in the first quarter of 2012 on machines with electric-over-hydraulic controls.

“Together, we will deliver automated and autonomous machines directly from the factory, and offer sophisticated retrofits for more than 2,000 Sandvik drill rigs currently operating globally,” said Gregg Scanlan, vice president of surface drilling equipment at Sandvik. “Our strategy is to combine proven automation with world-class drill rigs and a strong global aftermarket support.”

Sandvik also reported it has signed an agreement with Cortech, the largest manufacturer of fully hydraulic exploration drill rigs in China, under which Cortech will distribute Sandvik exploration tooling (RC and coring drill rods, bits, wireline and exploration products) and will be the agent in China for Sandvik exploration drill rigs. A collaboration agreement was also signed under which the two companies will use commercial and technical synergies of both companies. According to Sandvik, this is the first stage of planned long-term commercial and technical cooperation in many fields, including joint R&D, manufacturing and sales.