The Isidingo Drill Challenge is designed to, over three phases, encourage the design and prototyping of a new and innovative rock-drill concept to be used in deep-level mining.

The Mandela Mining Precinct at Carlow Road is a public-private partnership established with a key mission to improve the contribution of R&D and Innovation in the mining sector.

An important objective for the mining industry is the achievement of one conformant blast per day. At present, mining blast cycles are anywhere up to one blast in five or six days. Accelerating the mining cycle will have significant positive impacts across the industry, notably increases in production, mining output and efficiency.

Furthermore, current technology is wasteful of energy, heavy, noisy and prone to large vibration which results in fatigue, noise induced hearing loss and white knuckle syndrome. In addition, the conventional configuration means that operators are exposed to the most dangerous area of the mine, in terms of falls of ground, seismicity and gas blows.

The mining cycle can be broadly defined across the following stages:


The focus of this design challenge is to improve the efficiency, health and safety with which drilling occurs in the overall mining cycle.

In addition, faster and more precise drilling may contribute towards lower fall of ground incidents, thus contributing to a safer mining environment, and less dilution, thereby lowering unit costs.


The aim for this challenge is to rapidly design and develop an innovative, locally-made drilling technology through three rapid product development phases:

Phase 1

Concept Development

30 days 20 August – 18 September Submissions have CLOSED

Concept designs for a new rock-drill

Phase 2

Proof-of-Concept development

60 days 25 October – Early 2019

Proof of concept developed for new rock-drill

Phase 3

Prototype development

60 days Early 2019

Prototype drill developed and tested

In addition, where possible, access to technical experts will be facilitated to support the development of both proof-of-concept and prototype stages.

Each phase will be judged according to criteria established by the mining industry and relevant experts, and winners of each stage will move through to the next phase.


There are 4 key criteria that have to be addressed in the design of the new drill:


Current drills weigh between 28 – 32kgs.

The weight of the drill needs to be less than 16kgs.

A current conventional rock-drill weighs 28 kilograms. For a novice, female or older person, or person of ill-health, this is too heavy, especially for working in a confined space. The new unit should be much lighter, preferably half this weight.


The proposed power source cannot be compressed air.

An alternate must be proposed.

Compressed air power is notoriously inefficient, with probably less than 30% energy being usefully employed. This gets progressively worse as stopes get further from infrastructure. Thus the unit needs a power source that is consistent, efficient and affordable.


Current drilling methods don’t allow for parallel drilling holes to be set up during drilling.

The drill design must incorporate parallelism.

After drilling the first hole in a sequence, the subsequent holes should be parallel to the first.



The drill must be able to be set-up and taken down within 10 – 15 minutes.

The drill must be able to be set-up within 10 – 15 minutes, and taken-down again within 10 – 15 minutes (total 20 – 30 minutes)

The following 6 criteria are also to be considered with the design of the Isidingo drill:


Conventional, hand held drilling equipment has thrust applied through an airleg, which is oblique to the direction of drilling, this relying on vector forces. Not only is this wasteful of power, but it also causes excessive vertical thrust, thus bending the drill string.


Any unit that is designed must be “designed quiet” to be able to render noise levels that are well within the MHSC milestone targets (less than 95 dba).

Alternatively, the operator must be far enough away from the machine when it is in operation to not be over-exposed to noise beyond an acceptable threshold.


Current conventional machines are hand held for long periods of operation, resulting in severe vibration, itself resulting in “white knuckle” syndrome for operators.

Vibrations need to be significantly reduced.

Drilling speed / penetration

The new design should be equal to, or exceed current penetration rates of traditional, compressed air driven rock drills.

Operator consideration

The unit must be easily operable, either by inexperienced RDOs, experienced RDOs and by female operators

Human Centred Design

How is the new drill being design taking into account the environment, the safety aspects (FOG’s, seismicity, gas blows), and other aspects which are directly related to the person operating the drill?


It starts with an idea

10 August 2018 REGISTER YOUR INTEREST opens

20 August 2018

Challenge launch

Press briefing

13/14 September 2018
MMP presentation at Electro Mining
18 September 2018
Submissions close
19 - 25 September 2018
Notification of Winners
25 October 2018
Winners & press briefing
25 October 2018



Here is a sneak peak at our challenge

Focused on:

  • Concept sketches (2D, technical, pencil, anything) with accompanying notes
  • 3D CAD models and solution concept
  • Speed – 30 days to design a concept
  • Winners get stage-gated through to Phase 2



For challenge enquirers please contact: RIIS  |  support@isidingodrill.co.za   |  +27(0)12 012 5015
For media or communication enquirers please contact: Tahira  |  media@isidingodrill.co.za  |  +27(0)12 012 5015 | 0835955598

Download our Ts & Cs here

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