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Sandvik Construction supply drilling equipment and tools for Brazilian hydroelectric plant

As part of its energy from renewable sources strategy, the Brazilian government is planning to build 10 hydroelectric power stations that will possess a combined generating capacity of close to 4,000 Mega Watts .The largest of these, Teles Pires, is located near the town of Paranaita, and when fully operational in 2015 will possess a total generating capacity of 1,820 MW. The hydroelectric project has seen Sandvik Construction in Brazil play a key role in ensuring the Teles Pires deadline is met through the supply of a large variety of rock tools, drilling equipment, all backed by Sandvik's world leading aftermarket customer care.

Sandvik Construction supply drilling equipment and tools for Brazilian hydroelectric plant

The Teles Pires Hydropower plant has been built on Teles Pires River, a 1,370 km long water course in the Mato Grosso State. When fully operational it will generate around 1,820 MW, and will be the largest hydroelectric plant of the ambitious Teles Pires Complex. The combined complex is located between Paranaíta in Mato Grosso State, and Jacareacanga in the Pará State, all located inside the Seven Fall Waterfall area. The entire Teles Pires hydropower complex consists of the São Manoel Hydropower, Sinop Hydropower and Teles Pires Hydropower. Four further smaller power plants will also be installed on the Parnaiba River, located on the border between the north eastern states of Piaui and Maranhao, while another will be situated on the Sao Francisco River situated between the Bahia and Pernambuco states.

The two managing concerns for this strategically vital project are Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), which is the agency of the Brazilians Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), and Neoenergia Investimentos S/A (Neoinvest). The latter is a company controlled by pension funds linked to the Brazilian state-owned Bank of Brazil (Banco do Brazil), and the Welfare Fund for Bank of Brazil's staff (Previ), as well as by the Spanish group Iberdrola. Neoinvest has thus played the central role in ensuring that the project has been suitably financed.

Due to the prominence of the project, and the strategic role it will play in securing Brazil's current and future energy requirements, it was no surprise that some of Brazil's leading specialist construction and civil engineering companies combined to work on the scheme. These major companies included such established names as Odebrecht Infraestrutura, who were responsible for the construction of the hydropower facility, and Intertechne Consultores Associados S/C Ltda. Additionally Empresa de Pesquisa Energética (EPE), Neoenergia Investimentos S/A (Neoinvest), Neoenergia, Eletrobrás, Eletrosul, Eletrobrás Furnas, and Odebrecht Energia all played significant roles in the construction of the Teles Pires hydroelectric project.

Sandvik Construction supply drilling equipment and tools for Brazilian hydroelectric plant

Playing a vital role from the very beginning of the project has been Sandvik Construction Brazil, who first became involved towards the end of 2011 when building work commenced. Sandvik's involvement stems from the winning of the contract to supply rock tools for surface and underground drilling. This is hardly surprising as Sandvik provides the world's widest range of tools and accessories for exploration, rock drilling, raise boring, coal and mineral cutting, tunneling, trenching, road grading and cold planing. Furthermore, quality is imbued into the equipment as Sandvik is a world leader in steel, hard-materials technology and tool design. Thus Sandvik products are renowned for quality, high performance and the lowest cost per unit of work performed.

The requirement for rock tools of the highest caliber cannot be over stated due to the hard wearing nature of the granite material that was encountered, as well as the isolated geographic position, which necessitated the use of highly reliable tools. Furthermore, as the scheme is divided into 2 parts - Left Border and Right Border – two different approaches were required both requiring their own specialist equipment.

The Left Border of the scheme has seen 2,500,000m3 of material excavated, and such an enormous quantity of material thus required a large number of specialized machinery to be utilized, with the rock blasting alone having seen 5 x Pneumatics Drill Rigs, 2 x Hydraulics Drill Rigs, and a Jumbo Sandvik Axera T08 used. Getting the choice of the range of rock tools right used in this drilling was essential, as this part of the scheme possessed an added complexity as the river would be deviated from its course, with three 330 meter long tunnels totaling 220,000m3 being excavated. On the corresponding Right Border a staggering 4,500,000m3 of material has been excavated, with the materials being used to provide rock for barrage construction. The equipment used to help excavate the material on this part of the scheme used 5 x Pneumatics Drill Rigs, 8 x Hydraulics Drill Rigs and 5 x Hydraulic Drill Rigs DX 680.

In addition to drilling equipment supplied by Sandvik (that was also used in a nearby project), a great deal of specialist rock drilling tools were specifically deployed. To this end Sandvik supplied tools, shank adaptors, couplings, rods as well drill bits for the hydraulic and pneumatic drilling equipment. These tools used are particularly worthy of note due to the key part they played in the successful completion of the project.

The New Sandvik Tough MF rods have been specifically developed for surface bench drilling, in order to provide users that extra edge. With metallurgical properties varied carefully to match the load on different zones of the rod, they possess no weak points, resulting in a rigid, long-lasting and highly productive drill string. The Sandvik Alpha tools have been developed due to the problems associated with persistent tool failure in drifting and tunneling. As these problems may seriously affect productivity the Sandvik Alpha counters these problems as it is a new drill string, designed to take the high energy output and very high penetration rates of modern hydraulic rock drills. Thus, both sets of tools were perfect for the difficult conditions encountered on the Teles Pires scheme.

Sandvik's role was not limited to purely supplying rock tools, as parts, aftermarket and logistical support were also key strategic areas of Sandvik's involvement. Based on expected usage, and drawing on its world leading experience of such projects, Sandvik put together consignments of rock tools. This was done to ensure that productivity would not be affected by any unforeseen problems with production, as the logistical situation was incredibly difficult. This is due to the physical location of the site making reaching an arduous task, as it is located in the heart of the Amazon Jungle, with poor roads at the best of times that became virtually non-existent during the rainy season. Furthermore, and in order to ensure that the very best results were achieved from the rock tools utilized, a monthly visit from Sandvik specialists to help ensure that the very best solutions were used was organized. This proved especially beneficial due to the difficult nature of the granite encountered, and thus unforeseen difficulties encountered.

The Teles Pires hydro-electric scheme has been a vast undertaking; located in some of the world's most demanding terrain, requiring the excavation of some of the hardest wearing rock, it has been a major test of both man and machinery. Sandvik tools and drilling equipment have proven their worth yet again, and have contributed to the project being completed on time, and will ensure that the hydro-electric scheme becomes fully operational in 2015.

For further information please contact:

Emilie El Tarzi
Marketing Communications Specialist
Tools, Consumables & Services
Sandvik Construction
Office Phone: +46 26 26 2326
Mobile: +46 70 616 5399
E-mail: emilie.eltarzi@sandvik.com

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