Epiroc accelerates the transformation as its autonomous drills reach milestone

Epiroc, a leading productivity and sustainability partner for the mining, quarrying and infrastructure industries, continues accelerating its customers' transformation toward lower emissions, strengthened safety, and higher productivity. The Swedish company's autonomous drill rigs have now achieved another milestone by successfully drilling the equivalent length of more than one round worldwide. 
Breaking, Drilling & Blasting / March 17, 2023
By Guy Woodford
Epiroc's drill rigs, used by global mining and construction customers, are increasingly operated autonomously

Epiroc's drill rigs, used by global mining and construction customers, are increasingly operated autonomously. The company's Pit Viper surface drill rigs have now drilled holes totalling more than 41 million meters, exceeding the world's circumference of 40.1 million meters. The societal benefits generated so far are significant, including a reduction in CO2e emissions of more than 100 000 tonnes. The reduction in CO2e emissions is achieved through increased efficiency of autonomous drilling, higher-precision drilling and significantly less need for travel to the rigs, which can be far from the control room. An equivalent, in effect, would be to plant a new forest the size of the Swedish capital.

Similarly, Epiroc's autonomous underground rigs, such as the Simba production drill rigs, are increasingly used by customers. One of Epiroc's mining customers has drilled more than a million meters autonomously underground using a single Simba rig.    

In addition to lower emissions, other benefits of autonomous drilling include a safer and more comfortable work environment for operators and higher productivity. 

"Our autonomous drilling solutions are one example of how we are accelerating the transformation toward a more sustainable future," says Helena Hedblom, Epiroc's president and CEO. "We have a rigorous innovation agenda, also within digitalisation and electrification, to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact while increasing safety and productivity."

Epiroc poster
Epiroc's autonomous drill rigs have successfully drilled the equivalent length of more than one round worldwide

Minerals such as copper and nickel are key to society's transformation toward a more sustainable future, as they are needed in electric car batteries, solar panels, and other renewable energy technologies. A report by the International Energy Agency concluded that if the world is to meet net zero as a global goal, the demand for clean-technology minerals, including copper and nickel, will increase significantly in the coming years.

Epiroc has launched several initiatives to support the industry in extracting the needed minerals sustainably and efficiently. For example, Epiroc is working toward offering its complete fleet of underground mining equipment in emission-free versions by 2025 and its full fleet of surface equipment in emission-free versions by 2030. Another example is the partnership with steelmaker SSAB, which began in 2022 to produce fossil-free steel mining equipment. 

Epiroc also supports the transition towards a circular economy by providing equipment and services that enable the recycling and reuse of materials. For example, the construction industry uses Epiroc's hydraulic attachment tools to process concrete, asphalt, and other materials on-site, reducing waste and improving resource efficiency.

In 2021, Epiroc received validation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for the 2030 targets to halve its CO2e emissions in its operations and from the use of sold products. The SBTi validated Epiroc's climate targets as being in line with keeping global warming at a maximum 1.5°C, consistent with the latest climate science and the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

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