Mining technology also delivers a brilliant performance in the quarry

T‌he Truffer AG extract Vals Quartzite in their own quarry, and have set themselves the goal to carry out all further processing steps, up to the finished product, exclusively in the quarry in Vals. Founded in 1983, the Truffer AG has been continuously investing in modern machinery and technologies, so that today, they are considered to be one of the leading natural stone works in Switzerland. With 60 employees, they produce a broad range of natural stone products made of Vals Quartzite which are in use all over the world. Now, for a few months, a Boomer E1C DH from Epiroc has been in use in the quarry of the Truffer AG in Vals.

Epiroc produces and develops innovative drilling equipment as well as machinery for rock extraction and construction. The company offers worldwide service and consumables in high quality. Epiroc had the possibility to discuss the company‘s experiences face-to-face with the proprietor, Pius Truffer, and also to find out why they had chosen this machine that is rather untypical for a quarry.

EPIROC: What characterizes the Truffer AG and their kind of applications in open-cast mining? What kind of applications and machines do you use?

PIUS TRUFFER: We as a company have decided to produce and deliver only high-end products. This requires machines of absolute world-class quality, in particular in drilling technology: machines which set new standards and enable the efficient execution of drilling plans with high precision.

EPIROC: Why did you specifically choose the Boomer E1C DH from Epiroc? What is the special feature of a diesel-hydraulic drill rig?

PIUS TRUFFER: Previously, we had a smaller drill rig equipped with an electric drive unit. Given that we often change the location of the drill rig, we need to keep an eye on the connection cables as well, of course. Therefore, it is particular important for me that the drill rig can act completely autonomously.

The quarry is 500 m long, and with the Boomer E1C DH, I can drive from one side of the quarry to the other, I can position the machine and start drilling – and all that without laying any connection cable and, thanks to the integrated water tanks, even without having to look after the water supply.

EPIROC: What is the specific feature of this area? What are the characteristics and in which way can Epiroc‘s Boomer be useful?

PIUS TRUFFER: As has already been said, our quarry is relatively spacious, and as the Boomer runs completely autonomously, i.e. without any connection cables, we are able to quickly change the location of the equipment and to choose the operation site according to our needs. Furthermore, we need a certain off-road capability to reach all operation sites. In any case, the Boomer E1C DH provides all these advantages.

EPIROC: How exactly do you obtain the large blocks?

PIUS TRUFFER: The E1C DH enables us to obtain very large blocks directly from the rock. The cuts are approx. 10 m high, 5 m or – with an extension – 10 m deep and up to 30 m wide. The Boomer enables us to drill very precisely, almost hole to hole, and to very gently excavate the block from the quarry by means of explosives. Of course, transporting such blocks is impossible. Usually, they must be further crushed using the Boomer as well as explosives. This again requires high precision. In our case, the transportable blocks weigh between 15 and 50 tons. As we extract blocks instead of gravel, it is very important for us to produce as little small material as possible during excavation and crushing – contrary to tunnel construction, for example. Those blocks will be sawed up on site with a circular saw before they are further processed into the finished product.

EPIROC: Did you use a previous model of the Boomer E1C DH?

PIUS TRUFFER: Yes, the previous model had been used for more than 25 years before we finally sold it. However, as already said, this type was electrically driven. We had been dreaming of a Boomer for a long time, even if its application in a quarry is rather unusual.

EPIROC: Is there any other equipment used in the blasts?

PIUS TRUFFER: Every two to three years, we carry out a major wall blast to extract up to 20 000 m³ at once. For this procedure, we need drilling holes with depths of up to 30 to 40 m and we use a different drill rig, an Atlas Copco D7C. During this blast, the lower blast holes are set off at first in order to slightly lift the entire rock face onto a gas cushion. A few milliseconds later, we set off the shaft charge to slide out the rock face on the gas cushion of the explosive charge at the sole. For such large blasts, two to three tons of black powder are necessary.

To some extent, we also use wire saws, since in particular transverse blasts are often difficult, due to the direction-dependent properties of our rocks.

EPIROC: Does extraction take place throughout the year or do you temporarily have to shut down operation due to weather-related conditions?

PIUS TRUFFER: We work the whole year through. The previous winter was the first test for us to see whether the machine would withstand such extreme conditions. Of course, a number of aspects have to be considered to avoid frost damage. The machine, however, was continuously operational.

EPIROC: What drill-hole lengths or blasting pulls do you have? How many times a day do you carry out blasting?

PIUS TRUFFER: We don‘t have drill-hole lengths as they are known in tunnel construction. But we carry out smaller blasts on a daily basis. With the Boomer in our setup, we reach an effective drill length of 5 to 10 m which, at the same time, is our drilling depth. In special cases, we can extend the drill rod using the RAS (Rod Adding System), which has already proven its worth for us, as we are able to extend the drilling depth to about 10 m. For even deeper drillings, we use different machines.

EPIROC: You have been a customer of Epiroc - or previously of Atlas Copco - for a long time now. How do you judge the cooperation?

PIUS TRUFFER: We are a relatively small business, and to be able to sustain our position in the world market, we count on precision and reliability. Therefore, we need partners such as previously Atlas Copco and today Epiroc. If some time or other, something doesn‘t work properly and I phone the Service Department, I will be directly connected to a specialist and not referred to someone who has never had anything to do with rock drilling. In case of minor issues, Epiroc experts provide help on the phone in order for me to be able to solve the problem on my own, which, of course, minimizes downtimes.

EPIROC: A final word regarding the service: What is important for you in this respect and what are your experiences with the Epiroc service offer?

PIUS TRUFFER: For me, the top priorities are reliability and professional expertise. If I have a question, I want to speak with a service technician who understands the equipment and has the respective experience. Reliability is equally important for me. Agreed deadlines must be met. This applies both to the dates when service employees come and see me in the quarry and to delivery dates of spare parts. To a certain extent, this is due to my Swiss mentality. Epiroc is 100 % reliable – and that‘s what we highly appreciate.

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