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August 12, 2015   |   MTU

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Going For Gold in South Dakota with Clean Diesel Power


There is gold buried deep in the hills of South Dakota at the Wharf mine; South Dakota's only operating gold mine. In 2015 an estimated 90,000 ounces of gold will be produced thanks to a vast array of diesel-powered equipment working nearly around the clock. Gold is not just used for jewelry. A small amount of gold is used in almost every sophisticated electronic device. This includes: cell phones, calculators, personal digital assistants, global positioning system units and other small electronic devices. Gold is the highly efficient conductor that can carry tiny electrical currents and remain free of corrosion.

Diesel engines play a key role in mining operations around the world, including at the Wharf mine, where the process begins with drilling and blasting with an Atlas Copco DM45, equipped with the latest MTU clean diesel engine-the 10-cylinder Series 1600.

South Dakota mining

Equipped with crawler tracks, the mobile drilling rig moves slowly but surely into position atop the mine's face. A four-story-tall tower houses a carousel-type drill pipe changer that is designed to drill a nine-inch wide hole to depths of up to 175 feet. With a bit load force of up to 45,000 lbs., the DM45 produces a hole approximately nine inches wide. A sample of the earth is taken from each hole, to determine if any precious metals are present. Then, using sophisticated GPS positioning, the DM45 moves on to the next hole, creating a gridlike pattern. After the blastholes are drilled, it's time for demolition work. When all equipment and people are a safe distance away, the holes are filled with explosive material and detonated. The blast causes the mine's face to crumble away, where excavators and haul trucks scoop up the rock and ore and transport it for processing.

Mine operators estimate that the blasthole drilling machine will perform 6,000 hours of work this year. Drilling large diameter, deep holes through hard rock is no match for the MTU Series 1600 which also meets EPA's Tier 4 clean diesel emissions requirements that just came into effect this year, without the use of exhaust gas after treatment. Its technology package includes exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), a highpressure common rail fuel injection system and two-stage turbocharging, all of which enable combustion with very low oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter.


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