Tag Archives: Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology


The Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is adding impetus to the adoption of technology in mining in a way that is likely to change the sector quite dramatically, according to Simon Andrews, managing director at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Southern Africa.

Within the legal restrictions, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has continued operations in support of its mining customers in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

“Our structure – in which each country is managed independently – has proved invaluable under the lockdown conditions,” Andrews says. “This ensures we have the necessary skills in-country and on-site. In fact, there has been no need for our staff to cross borders.”

Most Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology staff are set up in home offices to keep the wheels turning, and a return to the normal office environment will not be considered before September. The company is also leveraging the technology in its equipment to facilitate remote working.

With its advanced mining automation and teleoperation systems, it is possible to monitor machines and optimise operations from any distance. Andrews says Sandvik has long promoted the merits of this technology, but it is not always simple to dislodge established practices in a conservative industry.

“No-one likes change, and the introduction of technology in any mining process can demand considerable commitment,” he says. “Rather like going to gym, everyone agrees that adopting technology has benefits for business, but actually acting on that belief, however, is a different story altogether.”

He highlights that the practical implementation of technology means tackling a steep learning curve. There is usually a significant change management process required, and myriad teething problems to resolve.

“It is a difficult process, and there often has to be something to break the inertia,” he says. “Certainly, Coronavirus (Covid-19) has forced everyone to work differently and to adopt new technology. Just consider how we work from home with online platforms to communicate with colleagues and customers.”

Like most technology partners in mining, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology had to accommodate a sharp drop in mining operations in the early stages of South Africa’s national lockdown. It continued working with its coal mining customers designated as essential services, and has been ramping up as the rest of the sector returns to work. Equipment and components have continued to be brought in by air and sea, ensuring necessary supplies to customers.

“We stay in close contact with all staff and customers, and the overall business looks positive,” says Andrews. “Projects are generally continuing and orders are coming through. We have, of course, been implementing cost-saving measures to preserve the business for 2020, as we look forward to a better 2021.”

He emphasises, however, that there will be no going back to normal when intensity of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic eases. Technology will be increasingly embraced as it contributes to safer and more remote working practices.

“We want to be part of that journey with our mining customers, as they enter a new era of mining,” he says. “This will see technology, data management and remote operations become a way of life – making mines safer, more efficient and more sustainable.”


Solar power is driving Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s world-class facility in Zimbabwe, already saving the company over 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.  

Promoting Sandvik’s sustainability goals, the Harare-based operation kicked off its solar power journey in 2017 with an 18-month Phase One project. This included strengthening the roof of the remanufacture facility to accommodate the weight of some 400 solar panels.

Using local contractors and expertise, the project was soon generating 50 kW of power to the facility. In Phase Two, another 50 kW of capacity was added. The installation now supplies about 75% of requirements, and plans are afoot to provide 100% of demand with another 30 to 50 kW of capacity.

“This takes our Harare facility to the next level in terms of technology and sustainability,” Ian Bagshaw, territory manager Zimboz – Southern Africa at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, says.

In an unusual design, the system operates with no battery storage, consuming the energy as it is generated. This substantially reduced the cost outlay for the project, enabling an efficient payback period of just nine years.

The solar journey has not been limited to the facility’s buildings. Over the past year, it has also been extended to the homes of employees. In a pilot project, standalone domestic solar power systems were designed, tested and installed. The combined impact so far amounts to about 35 kW of renewable energy.

“We will provide loans to staff members wanting to install solar power at home, empowering them to further reduce climate impact,” Bagshaw says. “We will roll out this programme in 2020 through an offer to all staff, and we expect an enthusiastic uptake.”

He estimates that the company’s domestic solar programme could soon produce a total of about 300 kW of renewable energy.

Well-regarded throughout the Sandvik Group, the Harare facility focuses mainly on the remanufacture of Sandvik trucks, loaders, drills and bolters.

“Our workshop is fully accredited and works to OEM standards,” Bagshaw says. “This high quality of workmanship allows us to provide full warranties on the machines we strip down and rebuild.”

The facility is also an important training resource for Zimbabwe, developing diesel plant fitters, millwrights and electricians. It accommodates about 40 apprentices in training at any one time; currently around 30% of these are women. The facility also provides work-related learning to other companies’ employees in the region and is a government accredited trade testing centre.


In response to customer requests for a different approach to the raise drilling and blasting sequence, Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s highly mobile Rhino 100 ‘plug-and-drill’ raiseborer is a leap forward in mobility and drilling speed.

According to Saltiel Pule, Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology’s business line manager for underground drilling in southern Africa, the key to the Rhino 100’s mobility is being self-sufficient.

“This unit carries all its own components, from rods and cables to hydraulics and the raiseboring head,” says Pule. “Pulled by a specially adapted double-axle John Deere tractor, no other transportation equipment is needed to move the rig.”

Together with fast set-up times and high drilling productivity, the Rhino 100 is an integrated solution that allows mines to meet ambitious drilling targets.

“Outriggers stabilise the machine so there is no requirement for a concrete pad before setting up,” he says. “This means that the machine can be set up in as little as 10 minutes, compared to the few days it takes to cast and cure a concrete pad before use.”

He adds that no roof bolting is required either, as the Rhino 100 is equipped with an inclinometer that provides the operator with the necessary x and y coordinates, which the surveyor can confirm before drilling starts.

Its productivity is further enhanced by its high drilling speed; with penetration rates of about two metres per hour, it can progress drilling at more than double the rate of conventional methods.

“The rod-handling arm enhances health and safety underground, especially by preventing back and finger injuries,” he says. “By carefully manipulating and changing rods without them needing to be placed on the ground, the automated arm also avoids dust and rock chips getting into the threads. This helps maintain the workflow and keep the whole process running efficiently.”

The 52-tonne Rhino 100 – at 3,1 metres wide and 3,4 metres high – has been designed to fit comfortably into a standard mine haulage, with easy mobility from one tunnel or stope to the next. Pule notes that, judging by the number of enquiries from major mining players, the unit looks to have a promising future in southern Africa’s mining sector.


Orders are already placed by major South African coal miners for Sandvik’s new LS312 flameproof underground loader.

The first active units will start rolling off the local production line in the second quarter of 2020, according to Richard Hickson, product support manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technologies.

“The LS312 loader is an enhanced 12 tonne high-capacity heavy-duty utility vehicle, building on the best features of our 10 tonne LS190 and 12 tonne LS190S models,” says Hickson. “This raises the bar once more in terms of better performance, reduced emissions and lower total cost of ownership.”

Powered by the C7.1 mechanical engine, the new generation LS312 complies with Tier II emission standards while ensuring quieter and more efficient operation.

“Customers’ productivity will benefit from increased engine performance, with 20% higher torque and 8% more power,” he says. “The lower rpm at which the machine can run also translates into less engine wear and lower emission levels.”

Hickson highlights that the new design continues to include a focus on reliability and easier maintenance. The drivetrain has been enhanced with a 12 tonne axle, and the structural integrity of the front frame strengthened. Maintenance crews will have easier access to hydraulic test points, which are now located in a panel on the side of the machine, making for safer working practices. In addition, the improved cooling system will further reduce maintenance time.

The product also offers an optional electronic shutdown system, providing easier fault diagnosis, reducing mean time to repair.

With the industry driven need for collection of machine and operational information, the Sandvik LS312 LHD offers an onboard data monitoring capability allowing for transfer of information via the mine’s Wi-Fi network and management through the “My Sandvik Cloud platform.

“Safety is paramount in all our designs, and a proximity detection interface is now provided as standard,” he says. “The lower frame design – facilitating improved visibility for the operator – has been retained in the LS312.”

The local manufacture of this new model brings a number of benefits to customers and the economy, says Stephan Greisiger, production manager at Sandvik’s world-class manufacturing facility in Jet Park.

“Local production of the LS312 units will significantly reduce the lead-time to our market,” says Greisiger. “This makes it easier for customers to plan capital equipment purchases.”

Sandvik’s quality-accredited facility of some 2,200 m2 under roof ensures the highest standards are applied in the manufacture and assembly of these new units. Its capacity is proven by its output of 5 tonne and 8 tonne loaders.