Last week we touched briefly on the new Pantera drill rigs. Described to me by Gary Hughes, Sandvik Mining’s President, as “game changers”, they are well worth closer examination. The new Pantera percussive drill platform –available for both DTH (down-the-hole) and TH (top hammer) applications – delivers increased drilling capacity, lower fuel consumption and improved safety. And they come with equally impressive new drilling tool packages.Featuring a distinctive new-look, stylish design, the new Panteras have been developed to take advantage of industry trends towards fully autonomous operation – with options allowing owners to take advantage of automation technology as their needs and mining operations change. The two new models are the Pantera DI6400 (DTH) and Pantera DP2000 (TH).Designed for wall control, pit development and production drilling in open pits, all Pantera variants share the same platform, control system and automation infrastructure, further reducing the cost of training, maintenance and ownership in surface drilling applications. The new platform combines an innovative approach to surface drilling with proven and intelligent SICA (Sandvik Integrated Control Architecture) control system technology.Pantera DI6400 is designed for 115-203 mm diameter blastholes up to 45 m in depth, while Pantera DP2000 can drill 152-178 mm diameter holes 36 m deep.The Pantera DTH configuration will offer the industry’s highest operating pressures for faster, more efficient drilling. Another industry first is the introduction of 7.5 m drill pipes, in diameters from 89-140 mm, for boom-based operation. “Compared with other DTH solutions, Pantera DI6400 with 25-ft drill pipes delivers higher productivity and lower operating costs, through higher penetration rates, reduced time spent in tool changes, better stability, faster maintenance, and an optimized powerpack,” says Jan-Olaf Petzold, Vice President for Product Line Surface DTH/TH drills.At the same time as the two new Panteras, Sandvik Mining announced the world’s largest hydraulic top hammer rock drill, the RD2045C, delivering increased drilling capacity, more efficient rock breaking, improved blast fragmentation and higher reliability.Designed for the DP2000 TH rig, RD2045C combines the efficiency of top hammer drilling with lower operating costs in 152-178 mm diameter surface drilling, explains Jukka Naapuri, Product Manager for Top Hammer Production Drills at Sandvik Mining. “RD2045C, which is in the 45 kW power class, features percussion dynamics optimized for our brand-new ST94-127 tube rods when drilling 152-178 mm diameter blastholes,” he said. “This rock drill incorporates two rotation motors delivering a total 4,800 Nm of rotation torque, ensuring smooth rotation and optimal energy transfer.”Naapuri also noted that “for the first time in the market, RD2045C introduces a closed-loop shank lubrication system for surface drills. This environmentally friendly closed-loop lubrication technology is an example of how Sandvik successfully integrates EHS in product design.”Then there is new RH 460 series of DTH hammers. The new series is designed to reduce costs in drilling and have the ability to perform its required functions under stated conditions for a specified period of time. Sandvik says “the new design promises to prolong hammer life and increase drilling penetration rates.“Through enhanced air cycle the RH460 will reduce fuel costs. Power level will increase productivity through better lubrication capabilities, improvements in resistance against galling and developments in the piston bearing design. Put quite simply, piston and hammer life will be dramatically increased.”The new RH460 family will begin with the launch of the 4”, 5” and 6” hammers. All versions are designed to utilise bits with generic shank types.