Efficient Drilling and Blasting


February 1, 2013

Canadian contractor finds success with fuel-efficient and accurate equipment.


Quebec-headquartered Canadian drilling and blasting contractor, Castonguay Blasting, has been operating for more than 40 years and has become one of the biggest contractors in the country. As such, it has one of the largest surface drilling fleets in the country, and its managers and operators thus have considerable experience with all kinds of drill rigs.

Castonguay Blasting, one of the biggest drilling and blasting contractors in Canada, has more than 40 years of experience in the quarry sector.

Castonguay prides itself on being able to handle the most challenging drill and blast projects, from quarrying to open pit mining to construction work, and its clients have come to depend on its professional approach of managing projects safely and effectively.

As an industry leader, Castonguay is continually striving to develop new technologies to provide the surface drilling and blasting industry with safer, more productive, and economical means of completing each project in a timely manner. Therefore, the performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness of the drill rigs in its fleet are of paramount importance. That has led the company to invest in four Sandvik DP1500i drill rigs.

With 40 years of experience in the quarrying sector, Castonguay works hand-in-hand with each quarry operator to ensure that the finished product conforms to the desired dimensions. Due to the proximity of some quarries to populated areas, the contractor uses state-of-the-art seismic monitoring systems to record noise and seismic activity produced by the effects of blasting, and very precise drilling can be key to achieving this. With accurate and dependable tracking, quarry operators can effectively meet or exceed regulated standards and still optimize productivity.

Stephane Lavoie, Castonguay’s regional manager for Quebec and the Maritimes, says the new tophammer drills have reduced fuel consumption by 25 to 30 percent, compared to down-the-hole rigs.

Graymont’s Marbleton limestone quarry in Quebec is no exception. This is one of the oldest quarries in Canada and supplies Graymont’s major Marbleton lime plant located near the site. Quarry production is some 2 million metric tons of rock (primarily a relatively soft limestone) a year, and it relies on Castonguay’s drill rigs and operators to produce this volume in a hassle-free and economical manner. The quarry achieves its high production level while only operating on a single shift, five days a week. On average, it manages 25 to 27 meters of drilling an hour.

Many quarries rely on down-the-hole (DTH) rigs for drilling, but Castonguay’s tophammer units were found to outperform comparable DTH rigs in its fleet in terms of drilling performance, precision, and, in particular, in fuel economy — of major significance for operators today in this time of rapidly rising oil prices.

The Sandvik DPi series of drills, developed from the Tamrock Pantera line of surface drills, are said to outperform their previous generation in terms of both productivity and fuel economy. They feature an enclosed cab that offers soundproofing while maintaining visibility; the intelligent control system makes for much easier and more accurate drill operation.

“We set three key environmental targets: one was lower fuel consumption, and the other two (were) minimizing noise and dust emissions,” says Tapani Sormunen, Sandvik’s engineering manager, New Products, Surface Drills. “We developed a new way of measuring fuel consumption, which also incorporates the productivity aspect. While the previous measurement unit for fuel consumption was liters per hour, we now count liters per drilled meter.”

Castonguay’s regional manager for Quebec and the Maritimes, Stephane Lavoie, says he and the company are particularly pleased with the Sandvik drills at the Marbleton quarry and elsewhere. He notes that the decision to purchase the rigs was based on performance and fuel consumption “because of the constant and ongoing increase in the fuel price.” The units have delivered precise drilling at 25 to 30 percent less fuel consumption than equivalent DTH high-pressure compressor units in the company’s fleet. Lavoie says that the onboard-computer reporting function is very precise and gives the operator and management very detailed information.

Hugo Leblanc, a Castonguay driller at the Marbleton site, says that the drill performs extremely well in all rock types from hard granites to softer limestones. He has been operating the rig for over a year and says it is very fast, and drills good-sized holes using Sandvik GT60 rock tools.

“It is much better than other rigs I have used before,” Leblanc says. In particular, he likes the visibility, the in-cab quietness of the unit, and its accurate drilling — a deviation of only 1 degree in a 26-meter hole. He also praises the easy access for refueling and simple maintenance tasks and the computer diagnostic system which makes fault correction quick and simple. “I’d recommend this machine to everybody,” he says.

Leblanc is an experienced driller, and the transition to operating a brand new rig was smooth with two weeks training in a simulator to learn the layout and controls, followed by two weeks supervised drilling on site. He was then “good to go.” 


Article courtesy of Sandvik.

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