The Sunburst Trial at Leinster Nickel Operations

Meyer T,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1995
Sunburst PCF (Penetrating Cone Fracture) technology has recently undergone extensive underground field trials at Leinster Nickel Operations, Western Australia. Trials with the Sunburst machine started in September 1994 and continued through to December 1994 during which approximately 130 metres of tunnel were developed. The Sunburst technology was used to excavate sub-levels through ultramafic nickel ore for future sub-level caving operations at the Perseverance nickel mine. The Sunburst machine demonstrated reasonable instantaneous advance rates, however, there are still a number of future developments/design changes which need to be addressed prior to the PCF technology being trialed again in a production environment. This paper benchmarks conventional drill and blast at Leinster against the Sunburst Excavator machine performance within similar tunnel dimensions and rock conditions. In addition to productivity and cost information; environmental considerations, support and labour requirements are also discussed. Problems with the current machine design are highlighted and possible future design changes are suggested. The Sunburst machine could be a suitable technology for advancing development through weak to moderate rock conditions and may also reduce overall support costs. With the potential for automation and the ability to reduce rock damage into the development tunnel walls, it is proposed that the Sunburst machine warrants further consideration.
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