Groundbreaking Drilling

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Thiess’ fleet of autonomous Epiroc drills has achieved a significant milestone, safely drilling more than one million lineal metres at Lake Vermont mine in Queensland.

In 2019, Thiess was the first mining services provider to deploy an Epiroc Pit Viper drill fitted with an autonomous drilling system (ADS) and has since expanded its fleet with additional autonomous drills now in operation.

At Lake Vermont, the multi-pass drills operate remotely from the site’s office, working autonomously for up to 22 hours per day. These drills employ advanced guidance technologies to precisely drill holes according to the specified location and depth in the drill plan. With the current multi-pass capability, operators can drill holes ranging from 171mm to 270mm in diameter and reach depths up to 72m.

The drill program is also unique in its implementation of a number of “firsts” including the first Epiroc fully autonomous Pit Viper 275 to operate at a coal mine in Australia, the first project with a fleet of multi-pass fully autonomous rigs drilling side-by-side globally, and Thiess being the first mining services provider to autonomously drill one million multi-pass lineal metres, globally.

QATCF 8.1 Thiess 2

Thiess Group Executive Assets, Technical Services and Technology Ramesh Liyanage and Epiroc Business Line Manager Drilling Solutions Alex Grant joined team representatives on-site to celebrate the achievement.

Ramesh recognised the milestone as an opportunity for Thiess and Epiroc to celebrate their collective success, proving the drills capability in a complex mining setting.

“Drilling more than one million lineal metres without an operator in the machine is a significant milestone and a reflection of Thiess’ ongoing commitment to increasing operational efficiency and safety outcomes through technology and innovation,” he said.

Epiroc President and CEO Helena Hedblom said, “We are proud to celebrate a momentous milestone with our valued customer, Thiess, as we reach the remarkable milestone of autonomously drilling one million metres together.

“This achievement underscores our strong partnership and commitment to delivering cutting-edge solutions in the mining industry and demonstrates the power of collaboration setting a new benchmark for the future of autonomous drilling.”

Thiess is exploring the application of this technology to its projects in the Americas.

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