Mincon Southern Africa recently worked in conjunction with truck manufacturer Western Star Trucks to deliver a 35 tonne custom built custom-built 4900 series Western Star truck to Booysen Bore Drilling Company.

The truck will be used at the JSE-listed Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine where it will be used for drilling holes for mine dewatering.

The truck is equipped with a Schramm T685 drill rig, mounted on a six by eight chassis, and has been specified with three of the four axles on the truck being driven axles to provide traction for operating in difficult terrain.

Mincon International celebrated their 30th birthday in February 2007 and the celebration was befitting the occasion.  For those that know Mincon, the following should give a better idea of the steps that have brought us to where we are now.  For those that do not, we hope you take the opportunity to get to know us and discover some of the reasons that have made us “The Driller’s Choice” for so many.

Mincon International, founded in 1977 to service the underground  metal mines in Ireland with Top Hammer drilling parts has experienced unprecedented growth since their new range of ‘Down-the-Hole’ Hammers was introduced in 1999.

Since then the company has grown substantially, surpassing expectations year after year with demand for Mincon product ever increasing.

Mincon has an established track record of delivering, world wide, high quality and superior performance tools to the Rock Drilling Industry. Maximum customer service and satisfaction is its primary focus and has a team of highly motivated personnel to achieve this.

In 1998 the Company embarked upon an ambitious plan to develop a new range of Down-the-Hole Hammers. In tandem with this a major re-equipment programme was undertaken at its Shannon facility. The Company significantly strengthened its technical and sales function which today has a philosophy of total customer satisfaction. We are now well on the way to achieving our objectives.

Our In-house Research & Development Team designs the product to the highest industry standards. The Company is committed to being a Market Leader and significant resources are expended annually on research and development. Working in partnership with our customers and distributors with a view to supplying advanced solutions has to-date proved to be a cornerstone in the success of our New Product Range. A number of new designs are presently on the Drawing Board.

Drilling in bad ground is not a driller’s most favourite pastime as he runs the risk of loosing his DTH tooling. Bad ground may be made up of broken or fissured rock, clays, sands or damp heavy conditions where dust can cling to the wall of the hole. Naturally it is important to keep the borehole open during the drilling process.

High air pressure helps to keep the hole clean and sometimes a “Back Reamer” can assist to break up loose rocks within the hole or help to ream away any built-up caked dust on the wall of the hole. Mincon Hammers have variable choke systems that allow increased airflows through the Hammer to assist in purging the hole.

Foams and water may be used in construction and water well drilling to purge the hole clean. Foams are particularly helpful where the air pressures and volumes are low.

A basic, but important, tip is to “Keep it Clean”. Even the smallest foreign particle can cause untold damage to the Hammer.

“World Class” DTH Tools need tight tolerances between the piston and the internal running surfaces for speed and efficiency. Dirt or other foreign bodies passing through can become trapped between the outer wall of the piston and the internal bore of the cylinder.

When this happens, with the piston striking the bit at over 30 times per second, intense heat can be generated and minute cracks can begin to develop from the surface and travel inwardly to cause piston failure.

How many times have we come to change the bit or strip the Hammer only to find that it cannot be dismantled without extreme difficulty and much effort.

Hammer manufacturers are sometimes at a loss what to do when it comes to thread design. If the threads are of one design they may be hard to unscrew, whilst of another design they may become unscrewed in the hole with the loss of the bit and retaining rings. Either case does not suit the driller.

Most makers opt for a compromise and adopt the 3 start thread arrangement, where there will actually be 3 threads following each other, instead of just the one that is common on a simple bolt and nut.

I know most of you out there are professional drillers, so please bear with me whilst we pass on a basic, but most important bit of advice to our new members.

A DTH Hammer has finely engineered internal components, much the same as a car engine, demanding the same protection. Without it things will go wrong and you and your company will be disadvantaged.

A proper rock oil of the correct grade, in the recommended amounts is needed to lubricate and protect the Hammer.

In recent years there has been a major push in geothermal heating and cooling system installations.  Escalating and uncertain fuel costs have been the driving force behind this, and with the possibility of reducing heating and cooling operating costs by 30% to 60% coupled with Federal and State incentives the proposition of going to Geothermal is very attractive.  Additionally, payback can be in as little as two to seven years.

We are all becoming a little greener these days and geothermal is certainly a very green option.  It reduces our dependency on fossil fuels and has a zero impact on the environment.  It is a renewable energy source that does not contribute to the green house effect.  With the financial savings and lack of impact on the environment it is not surprising that all new government buildings and schools are required to have geothermal systems to heat and cool them.  All in all a pretty good result for the economy and the environment.

The major component of a geothermal system is the loop that utilizes the earth’s natural, limitless supply of geothermal heating and cooling to help keep temperatures constant in all kinds of structures.  To make this possible the drilling contractor is required to drill a series of holes to install either a closed or open loop system.  The depth of the holes can vary from installation to installation, and depending on the size of the structure the quantity of holes also varies.  What does not vary is the drilling contractors need to finish the job as quickly and efficiently as possible.