Atlas Copco’s new PowerROC T50 surface drill rig’s fuel efficiency and the ability to drill bigger holes during a five week trial period prompted Eire Contractors to order two new machines to replace existing rigs.

Eire Contractors has been dealing with Atlas Copco since its founding by CEO, John Moffatt, in 1988. From humble beginnings with only three track rigs, John, together with his son, Matthew (MD), rapidly expanded the Durban-based family-owned business into an international concern, with its own impressive fleet of lowbeds and explosive trucks as well as Atlas Copco drill rigs, compressors and crushers.

The expansion has resulted in one of the largest plant holdings for hydraulics rigs throughout southern Africa. Eire Contractors offers customers in South Africa as well as on the rest of the African continent, a wide range of expertise, being fully equipped to handle any requirement in their field, from large bulk works to more intricate jobs.

According to Hedley Birnie, Atlas Copco business line manager SED, the T50 drill rig was supplied to Eire Contractors by Atlas Copco Surface Exploration Drilling (SED) for testing in a quarrying and open cast mining application in the Kwazulu-Natal areas of Pietermaritzburg and Piet Retief during September and October 2014. During the trial period, the rig drilled to a depth of 15 m.

“Other than normal routine maintenance, the rig went about its business,” says John, who reports that in addition to substantial savings on diesel, the rig drilled larger 140 and 152mm diameter holes with ease. “A comfortable operator is a safe and productive operator so the fact that the rig offers the same operator comfort levels as the previous model is very important to us. The rig’s power, speed and fuel efficiency meet our objectives for achieving maximum productivity with minimum input and operational costs are fundamental to a business’s sustainability.” John confirms that the two rigs will go be used on existing contracts in mines to replace current rigs nearing end of useful life.

Matthew explains that because the T50 rig was not radically different to operate compared to previous models, it was more a case of operators adapting from the existing machine to the new rig.  “This meant that the operators made the conversion quickly and easily in a short time, which is an important consideration as time is money.”

Once Eire Contractors’ service technicians have received rig maintenance training from Atlas Copco, Matthew confirms that maintenance and service responsibilities on the rigs will be undertaken in-house and concludes that further operator training and competency testing is always on going with Atlas Copco.

“Choosing the right equipment can be a tough decision but the resultant low maintenance and extended life delivered by Atlas Copco equipment for optimum uptime and production levels, make the decision an easy one,” concludes Matthew.