Innovation Through Interaction

2008 Dec 14

When the first Pit Viper 271 was being developed, Atlas Copco’s engineering and marketing staff worked closely with customers to design a rig for greater efficiency in open pit mining. At the Barrick Goldstrike Mine near Elko, Nevada, it’s more than living up to its promise.

Whenever a mining company in the United States considers purchasing a Pit Viper 271, the chances are that they contact Jim Owen of Barrick Goldstrike Mine near Elko, Nevada. Owen is not a driller or a mechanic, but his day-to-day responsibilities give him the experience to know the PV-271 better than anyone.

Jon Torpy, Atlas Copco?s Western US District Manager, says just about every company that has purchased a PV-271 in the United States, and several outside of the US, has first visited Jim Owen. ?Jim has been a great resource for other mines dealing with similar drilling conditions,? says Torpy.

As drill supervisor, Owen is an important part of the rig?s daily operation at Barrick Goldstrike. He says: ?I?m responsible for everything below the tophead ?  shocks, subs, steel, bits, bushings and [preventative] maintenance on the drills ? whatever is needed. I just keep the drills moving.?

Barrick?s Goldstrike mine has six PV-271 drill rigs, including the first ever built. ?After 27,113 hours, two compressors and two rotary heads, it is still our best performing drill with no cracks in the tower or frame,? says Owen.

?Where it counts, it?s all good.? Since it arrived at the mine in 2004, the rig has been problem-free, other than the replacement of wear items. ?The first one went to work the day it was taken off the lowboy, and it has been drilling ever since,? says Owen.

To put it into perspective, that?s 58,856 holes for a total of 2,671,217 drilled feet. Over that period, the PV-271 has had an average penetration rate of 199 ft per hour.

?The rate has stayed constant over the life of the drill, faster when starting a layback [pushback] and reducing when we go deeper,? says Owen.

He is also impressed with component life. On the first rig, he got 10,000 hours, totalling 1.2 million drilled feet on the first rotary head, and so far, about 17,000 on the second rotary head.

Epiroc operated under the trademark “Atlas Copco” prior to January 1, 2018.