BIG, BIG JOB: Hastings Deering workers ready the CAT MD6250 for delivery.
BIG, BIG JOB: Hastings Deering workers ready the CAT MD6250 for delivery. Jann Houley

Mine drill's worldwide trip ends in CQ

THERE is a hungry beast in town with a price tag in the millions, designed to chew through hard rock 12m benches, creating an 11.2m-deep hole with a drill bit of 250mm, and it's about to hit the highway.

Queensland's first Cat MD6250 rotary blasthole drill is undergoing its final touches after eight weeks of construction at Hastings Deering's Port Curtis.

It's headed for a new home at Mining and Civil Australia's (MACA) open-cut coking coal operation at the Bluff Mine, two hours west of Rockhampton.

The delivery will mark the end of a global logistics plan, that started with an overseas journey from Caterpillar's Denison factory in Texas, US, in May 2019.

Hastings Deering's leading hand Joe Mastroieni on the CAT MD6250 drill rig
Hastings Deering's leading hand Joe Mastroieni on the CAT MD6250 drill rig Jann Houley

The MD6250 was then shipped in components to Brisbane where it started its 640km journey by road to Central Queensland.

It took three trucks including two large prime movers to haul the chassis and 11.2 mast, as well as a fourth, smaller truck to transport the accessories and parts.

Putting the drill together was the next challenge.

It involved a specially formed team of highly skilled diesel fitters led by leading hand Joe Mastroieni from Hastings Deering.

Electricians and trades assistants also working tirelessly to deliver the finished product.

The CAT MD6250 can drill 1.2 metre deep holes with a bit of 250mm
The CAT MD6250 can drill 1.2 metre deep holes with a bit of 250mm Jann Houley

Mr Mastroieni has worked on hundreds of projects and has been at Hastings Deering for 43 years and described the challenges of assembling such a piece of machinery.

He said the project involved putting the whole drill together, testing it, and then preparing it for transport.

The testing process was as specific as testing whether air conditioning units in the cab and the hand rails were all up to the job.

He said it was the first drill with a cab he had worked on which challenged the fitting veteran.

Ethan McCallum secures onboard equipment for the CAT MD6250
Ethan McCallum secures onboard equipment. Jann Houley

But there will be no rest for Mr Mastroieni once the MD6250 leaves the yard with up to four drill systems, some even bigger, coming to be put together this year.

Hastings Deering product manager for drills and large motor graders, Adam Davis, said the drill would be partially dismantled and the mast, some walkways and accessories removed to break the drill down small enough to meet transport regulations in order to make the last leg of the journey - from Rockhampton to the Bluff Mine.

Mr Davis described the drill as "the workhorse of mining - doing all the dirty work.”

Hastings Deering's leading hand Joe Mastroieni on the CAT MD6250 drill rig
Hastings Deering leading hand Joe Mastroieni on the CAT MD6250 drill rig. Jann Houley

"The technology installed, 'Cat Terrain' feature uses satellite guidance to increase the Rotary Blasthole Drill's pattern accuracy by up to four times,” he said.

"The MD6250 has numerous features which allow substantial cost savings for owners including air volume control for optimum up-hole velocity, less engine load and lower fuel consumption, as well as Cat Product Link elite to provide statistics on machine health, location and production to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible.

Mr Davis says MACA's purchase of the MD6250 drill was on target with industry trends towards using high-tech, mid-size drills suited to drilling holes smaller than the 270-millimetre sizes.

"Once the larger coal seams begin to shrink in size and the work moves to higher-grade coal seams, smaller machines are used as they are better suited to such application,” he said.

The drill will be transported with a police escort at 6am on Tuesday.