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This episode features the following technical highlights:
• The RoXplorer® CR Digital Twin; and
• Delamerian Margins NSW National Drilling Campaign Commences in Collaboration with Geoscience Australia and the NSW Geological Survey.
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A fully immersive virtual reality experience of the RoXplorer® coiled tubing (CT) drilling platform has been developed to optimise engineering and user workflows of the drill site, train drillers on the new platform, and act as a technology showcase for stakeholder engagement and commercialisation.
The RoXplorer® CT platform is a disruptive technology that will change how greenfields mineral exploration is conducted – it is significantly different to any existing drilling technology used by the minerals industry. To bring RoXplorer® to market, MinEx is seeking to develop effective ways to demonstrate its benefits to industry partners and train drillers on the new platform efficiently, safely and accurately. The digital twin we have created is an incredibly detailed simulation of the real drill rig derived from the CAD design, to give users a truly authentic experience of the drill site of the future.
The foundation of the VR experience we have developed is a digital twin of the RoXplorer® drill rig – a true-to-life simulation of the drill rig derived from the CAD design that is integrated with behavioural models to realistically train a user in drill rig operation. Users can freely explore the virtual drill site and access all elements of the drilling infrastructure, allowing precise replication of the site layout, user workflows and safety considerations. Collaborative VR experiences can also be conducted (both in person and remotely), enabling industry stakeholders to be taken on guided demonstrations of the drill site to observe its major benefits, and training sessions to involve multiple users being directed by an expert instructor. An augmented reality application has also been developed that allows users to visualise the scale and features of RoXplorer® in their own working environments.
This project will form the foundation of a larger capability for the use of digital twins in the drilling process. Beyond training needs, future work could build upon the simulation aspects of the twin to include live sensor information from the drill rig, enabling remote monitoring and remote expert capabilities.
The Delamerian Margins New South Wales National Drilling Initiative stratigraphic drilling program will investigate a poorly-known part of Australian geology where a major boundary between older Proterozoic aged cratons in the west and younger Phanerozoic aged margins in the east are buried beneath thick sediments of the Murray Basin.
MinEx CRC, in collaboration with Geoscience Australia, is conducting the fifth National Drilling Initiative campaign in the far western part of New South Wales, between Broken Hill and Wentworth. The drilling of up to 17 holes will provide new geological and mineral potential insights into the ‘greenfields’ areas of the 500 million year old Delamerian Margin. The Delamerian Margin runs from north of Broken Hill, through New South Wales into South Australia and back into Victoria, and continues into Tasmania. Although much of the area is buried beneath sediments, where it comes near surface it is known to be well-mineralised.
Ten holes are planned for the RoXplorer CT500 coiled tubing drill rig, and a further seven by conventional mud-rotary and diamond coring rig. Drilling in the Loch-Lilly Kars Belt, about an hour’s drive south of Broken Hill, is testing lithology and mineral prospectivity of rocks along-strike from the Grasmere copper deposit. This is also along strike from where the third and fourth NDI campaigns were conducted with the Geological Survey of South Australia just over the border. Further to the south, deep drill holes will sample geophysical anomalies that will hopefully provide key samples for analyses that will provide a stratigraphic framework for this relatively poorly understood part of the Delamerian Orogen.
Once again, the RoXplorer coiled tubing drilling system is proving to be adept at drilling through difficult unconsolidated sediments such as clays and running sands. This is the kind of drilling conditions that will be more commonly encountered as we turn our attention towards the 80% or so of Australia that is similarly buried beneath young sediments and is yet to be investigated for the minerals and resources we need for the transition to a low carbon economy.