Robot drills in at South Flank

THE first autonomous drill rig has begun breaking ground at BHP’s $4.89 billion South Flank project in Western Australia’s Pilbara; with the Epiroc Pit Viper 271 drill rig controlled remotely by an operator sitting in an integrated remote operations centre in BHP’s city headquarters, about 1100km away.
Robot drills in at South Flank Robot drills in at South Flank Robot drills in at South Flank Robot drills in at South Flank Robot drills in at South Flank

BHP's IROC in Perth

The rig is the first of five autonomous drill rigs set to start operating at South Flank, which is BHP's newest WA mine.

According to South Flank project director Simon Thomas, the drill is the first piece of South Flank kit to be operated from the IROC.

Thomas said four more drill rigs would arrive over the coming three years as the project ramps up to first ore in 2021.

"The South Flank Project is tracking well to meet all milestones with more than $1.5 billion awarded in 177 contracts for bulk earthworks/concrete, non-process infrastructure, steel fabrication and machine fabrication/installation," he said.

"Importantly, 83% of those contracts have been awarded to WA-based companies and more than half has been awarded to Pilbara-based companies."