Important milestone in surface drilling automation

June 27, 2019

Epiroc, one of the leaders in automation development, is constantly pushing the boundaries in the rock excavation industry. Proof of this is that the world’s first fully autonomous SmartROC D65 surface drill rig, is now in production.


In the midst of the 4th industrial revolution, Epiroc presents an important milestone for surface drilling in open-pit mining and quarrying. With a push of a button it is now possible to complete entire drill patterns autonomously.

Not only will this remove the operator from potentially hazardous benches in a mine or a quarry, it will let the operator carry out other tasks while the rig is drilling. Other benefits are increased productivity and better hole quality. This means more holes drilled per shift, in part because automating the drilling process results in continuous operations without breaks and with less wear on drilling tools. In addition to this, positioning is faster and more accurate.

The achievement had not been possible if it wasn’t for the strong partnership between Epiroc and Newmont Goldcorp (fmr. Goldcorp) and their dedicated staff in the Hollinger open-pit mine in Timmins, Canada. Epiroc’s 6th Sense way of working was used to implement and develop the fully autonomous SmartROC D65. In the project, Epiroc and Newmont Goldcorp collaborated on a tailored solution that gathers ongoing insights to optimize process and people performance and unlock the potential of machine automation using interoperability.

"The Hollinger project is a perfect example of collaboration between a mining company and Epiroc, which demonstrates what our industry is capable of achieving. The future is very exciting."

Brian Doffing, President of the Surface and Exploration Drilling division at Epiroc
Autonomous drilling employs already existing technologies developed by Epiroc, such as Rod Handling System (RHS), Hole Navigation System (HNS) and Auto Positioning. Another crucial factor is the scalability of the Rig Control System (RCS).

"To make this work we are using the smart functions on the drill rig that are already there. Since we developed these functions over the years we have a good understanding of how to incorporate them in the autonomous mode."

Mayya Popova, Product Manager Automation, Surface and Exploration Drilling division at Epiroc
  • Important milestone in surface drilling automation

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  • Thanks to the partnership between Epiroc and Newmont Goldcorp, the world's first fully autonomous SmartROC D65 surface drill rig is now in production.

    Case video: World's first fully autonomous SmartROC D65 surface drill rig 907 MB, VIDEO
  • An operator and colleague in the autonomous drilling control room

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  • Close-up of a fully autonomous SmartROC D65

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  • A fully autonomous SmartROC D65 in the Hollinger open-pit mine

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  • Operator Annie in the control room

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  • Several Epiroc surface drill rigs in the Hollinger open-pit mine

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For further information, please contact:
Fredrik Ternström
Project Manager – Brand Communication, Surface and Exploration Drilling division
Mobile: +46 (0)73 158 8152
Email: fredrik.ternstrom@epiroc.com
Mayya Popova
Product Manager Automation, Surface and Exploration Drilling division
Mobile: +46 (0)72 083 0174
Email: mayya.popova@epiroc.com

Surface mining & quarrying International 2019 Automation SmartROC D65 Surface and Exploration Drilling division Press release

Epiroc is a leading global productivity partner for the mining and infrastructure industries. With cutting-edge technology, Epiroc develops and produces innovative, safe and sustainable drill rigs, rock excavation and construction equipment and tools. The company also provides world-class service and solutions for automation and interoperability. Epiroc is based in Stockholm, Sweden, had revenues of SEK 38 billion in 2018, and has more than 14,000 passionate employees supporting and collaborating with customers in more than 150 countries. Learn more at www.epirocgroup.com

Surface and Exploration Drilling is a division within Epiroc. It develops, manufactures, and markets rock and exploration drilling equipment for various applications in civil and geotechnical engineering, quarries and both surface as well as underground mines worldwide. Epiroc’s strong focus on innovative product design and service support systems gives added customer value. The main production centers are in Sweden, Italy, India, Japan and China. The divisional headquarters is in Örebro, Sweden.

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