The Workhorses of Glensanda

2006 Apr 01

At the huge Glensanda granite quarry on the coast of Scotland – the largest of its kind in Europe – only two bench drilling rigs are needed to maintain a yearly production of six million tonnes of aggregates. Close co-operation and a service agreement keep these workhorses working round the clock.




As quarries go, Glensanda is in a class all its own. Located on the remote and beautiful west coast of Scotland, it is a true ?superquarry?, measuring 2,400 hectare (24 sq km) ? the largest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world.

But what makes it more remarkable is that it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via a 200 metre-deep sea channel. And it is this connection that is its greatest competitive advantage, enabling the aggregates to be easily shipped out to world markets.



Reliable backbone

In addition to the two Drillmasters, a fleet of four Atlas Copco ECM 350 rigs are used at the quarry for development work, such as constructing access ramps and opening up new levels.

But it is the highly productive, multi-pass rotary blast hole DM 45s that form the backbone of the quarrying operation, with Secoroc COP 54 and other down the hole hammers and bits. One of the DM 45s was acquired in 2005 while the other is a real old-timer having worked continuously in the quarry for the past 15 years.

Commenting on the older unit, Graeme Platt, Shift Manager, told M&C: ?It?s done very well for what it?s produced in 15 years of constant use. But we’re very happy with the new one too.

It?s very good and very reliable. These rigs give us tremendous service considering the hard wear and tear.?

Jonathan Will, who has been operating the new rig for more than nine months, says the older rig ?is the one that?s kept the whole quarry going?, and he is pleased with his new acquisition.

?This new machine is really, really good,? he says. ?We drill 23 metre holes for the bench at an angle of 10?20 degrees. Any more and the dust would blow everywhere. The cab is also good with its air conditioning, heating and more leg room than in the older version. The dust suppression is also effective, and keeps the water away.?

Fellow operator Garry Stewart, who normally operates the older rig, adds: ?The soundproofing of the cab helps a lot and the new rig is far quicker to operate.?


But Glensanda also has another competitive advantage that sets it apart. It uses only two bench drilling rigs ? DM 45 Drillmasters from Atlas Copco ? in order to take care of all of its production drilling, currently six million tonnes annually, which can be increased to 15 million if required.

The Glensanda quarry, owned by the well-known company Foster Yeoman Ltd., (see box, p 21) has more than 150 years of reserves. At current rates of production, that totals about 900 million tonnes of high quality, massive granite, which is used for infrastructure and other civil engineering projects, mainly in Europe but also in the USA.

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