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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 2225-6253


ADEBAYO, B.  and  MUKOYA, J.G.M.. Rock properties and machine parameters evaluation at Rössing Uranium Mine for optimum drill performance. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2019, vol.119, n.5, pp.459-464. ISSN 2411-9717.

This work was carried out to determine the influence of rock properties and drilling machine parameters on the penetration rate at the SJ pit of Rössing Uranium Mine, Namibia. Rock properties (uniaxial compressive strength, tensile strength, and modulus of elasticity) of samples collected were determined in the laboratory. Drilling experiments were conducted in which feed pressure, air pressure, rotary speed, weight on the bit, and torque were varied to measure their effect on the penetration rate. The uniaxial compressive strength varied from 90-180 MPa for layered marble-quartzite and banded gneiss. Increases in feed pressure, weight on the bit, and rotary speed beyond the optimum level led to a decrease in penetration rate and caused the drill bit to 'stall'. Results of the study revealed that penetration rate increases with an increase in the feed pressure and air pressure. After reaching a maximum value, the penetration rate begins to decrease despite increasing feed pressure. A very high torque causes the drill bit to stall, since the feed pressure is too high and the air pressure is not sufficient to remove the cuttings from blast-hole at maxium bailing velocities. The average penetration rate varied from 19 to 45 m/h for phase 2 of the pit, and from 17 to 68 m/h for phase 3. The optimum drilling machine parameters obtained in phase 2 and phase 3 were slightly lower than those currently being used at the mine. The trials of the optimum machine parameters will assist in reducing the cost of drilling, which varied from N$29.48 to N$36.31 per metre for the tricone bit.

Keywords : rotary drilling; machine parameters; rock properties; penetration rate.

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