Swick develops semi-autonomous drill rigs

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Swick develops semi-autonomous drill rigs

Pushes for R&D goal.

Swick Mining Services is investing in a digital control interface that will enable a series of new underground diamond drill rigs to operate "semi-autonomously".

The company, which provides drill rigs and drilling services, plans to launch its new underground diamond rig at the end of August.

Control interface development for the new rigs is in the hands of undisclosed "automation specialists".

The firm kept key design elements of the new rigs under wraps, redacting photos of the system in a publicly-published slide deck for the financial year 2012 results.

Swick said that semi-autonomous operation of the new rigs would "reduce operators required to man a shift from two operators to one".

Reducing manning levels for the rigs would assist the company to meet its R&D goal to "double [its] metres drilled per man hour".

The company also indicated it would construct the new underground diamond drill rigs "from components nearly exclusively manufactured in-house", which it expected to cut capital costs per rig "on an ongoing basis by approximately 20 percent".

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