What role does the PowerROC T25 DC play at the project?
“We encounter lots of large rocks that we need to remove. However, we cannot use explosives because we are located within an astronomical area and blasting would affect the operation of the 66 telescopes of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which are less than ten kilometers away. So, we use plasma blasting technology. The PowerROC drills a 51-millimeter hole up to two meters into the rock and then water is injected into the hole. When a pulsed electric charge is applied, the rock is shattered into tiny pieces.”
What's been your experience with the PowerROC?
“The machine has been operating on the mountain for about two months. It has worked very well, better than we expected, so we are very happy with the functionality that the equipment has displayed in the project. At night, temperatures can fall to fifteen to twenty degrees Celsius below freezing, which can cause the hydraulic fluids and fuels to freeze and make starting the equipment in the morning very difficult. However, with the PowerROC, we have had absolutely no problems with fluids freezing or starting up in the morning. Nor has it lost pressure when working at altitude.”
Is there anything you would like to improve?
“Perhaps the arm could be longer or more flexible, which would help on the complicated terrain found on the mountain.”