Project Profile: Drilling and Blasting for Pleasure and Profit

March 1, 2009

The highways leading to Toronto from Sudbury and North Bay pass through forests, over rivers, and, quite often, through cut rock. Sherbrooke, QC-based Castonguay G.P. specializes in contract drilling and blasting services throughout Quebec and Ontario, and Atlas Copco’s ROC D-series rigs are an important component in Castonguay’s success.

The company operates around 60 rigs in Ontario and averages 115 throughout the company. Although they have many brands, the D-Series ROC D7 RRC and ROC D9 RRC rigs, featuring remote control, are the operator’s rigs of choice. “We get the jobs no one else will take,” says Bruno Dube, president and general manager of Castonguay’s Ontario operations. The ROC radio remote rigs are a big reason for that.

The foremost feature of the rigs is safety, in Dube’s opinion. He points out two main safety benefits. “The first is obvious, as the rigs have to work in difficult locations where there is a risk of turning over. And, second, because the operator can move away from noise and dust,” he says. Because the rig is assigned to the most hazardous jobs, Dube orders all D-series rigs with a winch. “A drill without a winch is not a drill,” says Dube.

Veteran operator Dwayne Taylor likes the fact that he can work at a distance from the rig without finding it a handicap. All the drillers assigned to the D-series rigs took little time catching on to the remote control. “The remote is very user friendly,” says Taylor. He compares its intuitiveness to operating a vehicle. “It’s like driving a car. After a while I didn’t even have to look down. Now I don’t even think about what my hands are doing; they just do what they’re supposed to.”

The ability to work on the edge safely is a benefit for the D-series, but accuracy is also an advantage, in Taylor’s opinion. Like all the senior drillers, Taylor has the benefit of operating the ROC rigs. He currently is running the ROC D9 RRC. He likes the straightness of the hole. With other drills, he says, you can go off if there’s a deviation in collaring or you simply start off too fast. He also says soft rock or a fracture in the formation can cause a bit to drift, but all these potential issues are not problem with the D9.

Castonguay originally purchased ROC D7 RRC rigs with the 2150, 21-kW rock drill. Since the new D9 was introduced last year, the D7 is no longer available with the 21-kW drill, just the standard 18-kW drill. Today the standard rock drill with the rig is the 2160 drill. This is a benefit, as the D9 has extra power and an additional 10 cubic feet of air per minute, increasing speed and performance and cleaning the hole better.

Although rated for 4.5-inch holes, the rigs will go up to 5 inches, says driller Steve Pellerin. In the right formation, Pellerin says, he gets 800 feet per day with 5 inches and 1,200 feet with 4 inches. If they need to go to smaller holes because they are in populated areas and need less blasting material, Pellerin says he will get 1,500 feet with 3 inches.

Bruno Dube likes the hole-size versatility of the ROC D9. He says in some areas they will get as much as 2,000 feet per day with the D9. With versatility the D9 also offers maneuverability. These aspects also make the rig perfect for handling pre-sheer work. The rig can maneuver to the working face and work into a position to get the proper angle on the face. The operators like how the rigs can get into virtually any position, while Dube takes it further-the ROC D-series rigs, he says, “will go places others won’t go.” Pellerin agrees, saying the ROC D9 RRC is “super stable with a great center of gravity.”

Driller Dwayne Taylor also pointed out a few minor features he likes on the drills that make the job much better. The pre-heater is set to 4:30 a.m. An hour later, when he arrives, the rig is ready to fire up so he can get right to work. He also likes the computerized footage counter. The counter tracks right to the decimal point. “I think I forgot how to write,” he comments with a laugh. Dube likes the computerized counter because he knows footage is accurate and easy to manage. Along with too many functions to mention, the computerized screen also gives exact angles of the feed. Taylor says he has checked it manually when he thought it looked off, but “the computer was right on.”

While drilling, Pellerin hit a water vein that sent water gushing out of the hole. He quickly shut off the dust collector, but commented he really likes the pre-cleaner as it keeps water from clogging up the dust collector system if the can’t get it done fast enough.

All Castonguay drillers agree that the ROC rigs are their favorite to operate. They cited different reasons, but all commented on the lack of problems as reasons for calling the Atlas Copco drills their favorite.

Last year, Castonguay was acquired by Dyno Nobel. Although a more corporate structure exists today, the company continues to give its customers and employees the same dedication it always has. Castonguay works all over Canada, showing exceptional success in Quebec and Ontario, with six and three offices in each province respectively. The company has over 350 employees focused totally on drilling and blasting for construction and quarry work. Dube says he has a very loyal group of people. Many of the drillers and foreman have been with him for years.

Dube moved to Ontario in 1992 to build the business. “We succeed because we service the customer locally,” he says. He got his start in the business at the age of 12, when he would accompany his father, who was a driller, to the work sites.

Today the company focuses on developing its people and staying close to the customer, always ready for “whatever job comes up.” Dube says training is very important, with safety being an important piece of the company’s training calendar. Regular communication and safety meetings are conducted with employees and customers alike. Dube says that, in Ontario alone, he runs 10 service trucks and 15 technicians to keep the equipment working at top performance.

The company will continue to grow, and Dube has additional regions in his sights. Building is not difficult, he says, “But to build a market it’s necessary to service it right.” Atlas Copco is committed to helping Dube and Castonguay G.P. go where they need to go-mechanically, technically, or winched off on a difficult pattern.
About the Author

Scott Ellenbecker

Scott Ellenbecker is a marketer of construction and mining equipment.

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