Stu Blattner Inc.

Raise boring trumps conventional mining methods
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Victor Martins

A raise bore machine is primarily used in underground mining, civil construction and hydroelectric projects. It is a mechanical means of drilling a circular hole between two levels of mine and underground area without the use of explosives. Following the drilling of a pilot hole between two levels, a reaming head is attached to the drill string to drill the specific circumference of the desired raise.

The development of raise bore drilling has led to more efficient, safer mining, effectively removing the need to conduct risky and wasteful blast excavations using explosives. For most application of non-horizontal development in rock, raise boring provides time and cost-saving benefits, including faster advance rates, less disturbance to rock structure, reduced labor cost, greater safety to personal and less environmental impact. This has changed the face of the global industry and Stu Blattner Inc. (SBI) is one of the field’s top contractors.

Based in Golden, Colo., SBI is the largest raise bore contractor in the U.S. and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Since 1980, the family-owned company – founded by namesake Stu Blattner – has excelled in manufacturing mining-related equipment from raise bore drills, reaming heads, raise bore drill pipe, cutters and more.

By manufacturing these items in-house, SBI is in a unique position of being its’ own equipment supplier. “We’re able to offer our customers the lowest price, because we manufacture in-house,” says Chad Blattner, Stu’s son and current co-owner. “We couple that with the best customer service and support in the industry, because we understand our products inside and out.”

Chad is proud to follow in his father’s footsteps; it is evident there is great pride within the company. “Customer service, reliability and availability are key in this industry,” Chad continues. “Because we’re a family-oriented company and not some big brand name, we can offer a better relationship with our clients.”

Going global

SBI has managed to make a worldwide name while maintaining a level of customer service and commitment rooted in family ownership. “I’m one of five family-related owners,” details Chad. “I’ve been in the industry for 20 years. I started working for my father right out high school and while attending college.”

The company’s main headquarters and manufacturing facility reside in Golden, but today, SBI works across the globe. “We work all over the world drilling shafts, from coal companies in West Virginia, water intake shafts for civil project in Austin, Texas, as well as ventilation raises and ore passages for some of the largest mines in Peru,” says Chad. “Today we span North America, South America and Australia. We have 300 employees worldwide.”

Currently, SBI has 19 raise bore machines in its fleet, operating in several continents with more than 150,000 feet raised to-date. “Our sister company in Lima, Peru, frequently ranks among the top 500 firms in the country,” adds Chad.

Stu Blattner Inc.

Boring the way

Over the last 34 years, SBI has perfected drilling programs to save customers time and money on the job. “Raise boring is proven safer and faster than conventional mining methods for shaft development,” assures Chad. “Because we have the ability to operate as our own equipment supplier, we cater to our customers’ specific needs offering such services as low profile machines and combination up and down drilling rigs. We have also worked with special requests, such as developing the Y-system where we pull one raise out of another.”

The company has the capacity to drill anywhere from a 9-inch diameter to 20 feet in diameter and up to 1,500 feet in length, depending on rock conditions. “Our equipment is predominantly utilized in mining ventilation shafts, ore passages or manways, along with hydroelectric projects for the use of drilling large diameter holes,” explains Chad. “One of our most interesting projects was a water intake facility in Austin, Texas. This project involved drilling a 3.5-foot hole at a 32 degree angle. Our work here is setting the standard for something that’s never been done in raise boring before.”

Double-digit growth                                                                                         

SBI continues to set the raise bore standard, paving the way for further advancement of the technology. “Although the economy has made profitability difficult, mining is a viable industry that’s here to stay,” assures Chad. “However, repeat business has carried us through. Most customers return to SBI for second, third and even fourth jobs, because they trust our work and have a positive cost-effective experience.”

With reoccurring business and the opportunity for new projects in all corners of the mining world, Chad says the company has welcomed unprecedented growth. “We’re growing at an astronomical rate,” he reveals. “I see us continuing on this path, doubling or even tripling in size – we’ve done it every year for the last five years, so I don’t see that changing.”

Grounded in family, hands-on ownership, Stu Blattner Inc. continues to deliver top of the line manufacturing and implementation of improved mining technology.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
T and T Carbide