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Drill Rigs Wow Quebec Contractor

Quebec, Canada-headquartered drilling and blasting contractor Castonguay Blasting has been operating for more than 40 years and has become one of the biggest contractors of its type in Canada. As such, it has one of the largest surface drilling fleets in operation, and its managers and operators have considerable experience with all types of drill rigs because of it. Some of the newest and most praised rigs in the company’s fleet are their Sandvik DP1500i units. The company operates four of these models from the Sandvik DPi series of drill rigs and could be looking for more to fuel expansion.

Castonguay prides itself on being able to handle the most challenging drill and blast projects from quarrying to open pit mining to construction work, and its clients have come to depend on its professional approach of managing projects safely and effectively.

New Technologies
As an industry leader, Castonguay is continually striving to develop new technologies to provide the surface drilling and blasting industry with safer, more productive and economical means of completing each project in a timely manner. Therefore, the performance, reliability and cost-effectiveness of the drill rigs in its fleet are of paramount importance, and both Castonguay management and rig operators are hugely complimentary about its Sandvik DPi units.

In the quarrying sector, Castonguay works hand-in-hand with each quarry operator to ensure that the finished product conforms to the desired dimensions. Due to the proximity of some quarries to populated areas, Castonguay utilizes state-of-the-art seismic monitoring systems to record noise and seismic activity produced by the effects of blasting. With accurate and dependable tracking, quarry operators can effectively meet or exceed regulated standards and still optimize productivity.

Graymont’s Marbleton limestone quarry in Quebec is no exception. This is one of the oldest quarries in Canada and supplies Graymont’s major Marbleton lime plant located near the site. The quarry relies on Castonguay’s Sandvik DP1500i rigs and their operators to produce some 2 million tpy of rock (primarily a relatively soft limestone) with no issues and by extremely economical means – making full use of the fuel-saving attributes built into the rig’s design. The high production level is achieved while only operating on a single shift basis, five days a week, and 25-27 m of drilling an hour.

Saving Money on Fuel
Many quarries rely on DTH rigs for their drilling, but Castonguay’s Sandvik DP1500i tophammer units have been found to outperform comparable DTH rigs in the Castonguay fleet in terms of drilling performance, precision and, in particular, in fuel economy – of major significance for operators today in this time of rapidly rising oil prices.

The Sandvik DPi series of drills has now been on the market for around four to five years and was developed from the very successful Tamrock Pantera line of surface drills. Sandvik reports that general customer feedback is that these units outperform their previous generation both in productivity and fuel economy. Operators are particularly happy with the working environment the enclosed cab provides in terms of both soundproofing and visibility, while the intelligent control system makes for much easier and more accurate drill operation.

Indeed, lower fuel consumption was a key target in drill design for the DPi series. “We set three key environmental targets: one was lower fuel consumption and the other two minimizing noise and dust emissions. We developed a new way of measuring fuel consumption, which also incorporates the productivity aspect. While the previous measurement unit for fuel consumption was liters per hour, we now count liters per drilled meter,” said Tapani Sormunen, Sandvik’s engineering manager, new products, surface drills.

Indeed Castonguay’s management and operators would fully agree with all the above. The contractor’s regional manager for Quebec and the Maritimes, Stephane Lavoie, says he, and the company, are particularly pleased with the Sandvik drills at the Marbleton quarry and elsewhere.

He comments that the decision to purchase the rigs was based on performance and in particular on fuel consumption “because of the constant and ongoing increase in the fuel price” – a move which has been well-justified with the units delivering very precise drilling at 25-30 percent less fuel consumption than equivalent DTH high-pressure compressor units in the company’s fleet. He notes that the onboard computer reporting function is very precise and gives the operator, and management very detailed information and that Sandvik service support is also excellent. “I definitely would recommend Sandvik DPi rigs,” he says. (Perhaps only to non-directly competing businesses!)

Operator Comfort
Hugo Leblanc, a Castonguay driller at the Marbleton site, is equally complimentary about the DP1500i rig he operates. He said that from his experience it performs extremely well in all rock types from hard granites to softer limestones. He has been operating the rig for more than a year, and says it is very fast and drills good-sized holes using Sandvik GT60 rock tools (used on other Castonguay rigs, too).

“It is much better than other rigs I have used before,” he said. He praises in particular the excellent visibility, the in-cab quietness of the unit, its accurate drilling – a deviation of only 1 degree in a 26 m hole. He also praises the very easy access for refueling and simple maintenance tasks, and the computer diagnostic system which makes fault correction quick and simple.

“I’d recommend this machine to everybody,” he said.

Leblanc is an experienced driller and the transition to operating a brand new rig was smooth with two weeks training in a simulator to learn the layout and controls, followed by two weeks supervised drilling on site. He was then “good to go.” He goes on to describe the performance and fuel economy as “amazing” compared with previous rigs he has operated.

The DPi series of drills comes in three sizes, 900i, 1100i and 1500i, all capable of drilling at least 5-in. holes (the DP1500i up to 6-in.) but utilizing different tophammer drills and two different Cat engines, both Tier4 and Tier3, thus having increasing capabilities as the size range increases.



Range MM

Rock Drill






HF 1560
33 kW

14 cu.m/min
up to 10 bar





HL 1010
25 kW

14 cu.m/min
up to 10 bar



DP900i  89-127


HL 1010
21 kW

9.6 cu.m/min
up to 10 bar