Published: April 27, 2021

Tapojärvi and Sandvik have signed a purchase agreement for top hammer drill rigs equipped with new technology. The remote-operated drill rigs will be deployed in January 2022, when Tapojärvi and Yara are set to start a ten-year alliance cooperation in the Siilinjärvi mine. The alliance arises from the transformation of the mining industry, which brings various digital solutions, such as remote operations and automation, to the mines.

The acquisition of drilling equipment using the new technologies is a concrete indication of how mining technology can be combined with automation and remote-control systems.

“The drilling equipment purchased for the alliance is remotely operated. In the drilling field, remote-control can be used to control the drilling functions of two drill rigs with a single remote-control panel. The remote-control system allows the operator to move a rig from one hole to the next remotely. The rig can be remotely controlled to drill a hole using automated drilling technology. The rigs are controlled remotely from the control room with the help of cameras. This increases the operators’ well-being, as the control room is cleaner, more ergonomic and safer to work in”, Martti Kaikkonen, Tapojärvi’s Chief Operating Officer, explains.

“Safety is improved when the rigs can be operated remotely, and profitability increases when one operator can control several rigs”, Antti Savolainen, the Head of Siilinjärvi Mine, says.

With the new technology, more data from a wider range of applications can be collected for production, and this data can then be used to continuously improve operations.

“We will utilise real-time data transfer for example in planning and future stages. Sandvik’s remote-operated drill rig, for example, will provide us data about details such as changes in the rock properties, and we can use this data to plan blast hole patterns”, Kaikkonen continues.

Tapojärvi has been working in underground mines and open pits for decades. At the moment, the company’s fleet size is approximately 300, and the fleet is based on three principles: usability, productivity and cost-effectiveness. The equipment stock is modern and has been specially developed for quarrying and mining operations. The company’s technology strategy focuses on increasingly sustainable and environmentally friendly operation in mines.

Under the alliance-type operating model to be launched in 2022, Yara and Tapojärvi, which is responsible for mining services, will work together closely to plan, manage and develop the day-to-day operations. The operations are based on continuous development and the utilisation of the expertise of both partners.

“We are currently testing different applications, such as using drones for scaling. Our aim is to ensure that operative work is carried out at the right time and to improve wall safety in the mines”, Kaikkonen explains.

Yara is a global supplier of fertilisers, industrial chemicals and environmental protection agents. In Finland, Yara has three production facilities, including one in Siilinjärvi, which is the only operating phosphorus mine in Western Europe. The main products of Yara’s Siilinjärvi mine are fertilisers and phosphoric acid. The mine produces the cleanest phosphate in the world, from which phosphorus is removed and used as a raw material for fertilisers.

Tapojärvi is an international specialist in mining and mill services, forerunner of the circular economy. The company produces services and raw materials to meet the needs of the modern society and creates new solutions for sustainable living. Tapojärvi currently operates in several mines and factories as an integral part of

Sandvik Group is an international industrial group specialising in high technology. The group’s business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, is a global leading supplier in equipment and tools, parts, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries. Applications include rock drilling, rock cutting, loading and hauling, tunnelling and quarrying. In 2020, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions employed approximately 12,500 people and had a turnover of SEK 37 billion.