RCT and Northern Star Resources have recently completed an autonomous technology trial in Western Australia’s Goldfields region that bodes well for the future of underground remote operations centres in the state.
In early October, RCT set up a ControlMaster® Automation Centre at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) in Kalgoorlie with a network connection to an underground LHD equipped with ControlMaster Guidance Automation at the East Kunduna Joint Venture (EKJV) mine.
EKJV is a joint venture between Northern Star, Tribune Resources and Rand Mining, managed by Northern Star and located around 40 km away from Kalgoorlie.
The mining method at the Kundana operations is from underground using up-hole longhole stoping with paste backfill.
The project to set up a Remote Operating Centre (ROC) was a combined effort by technical specialists from RCT and Northern Star Resources, RCT said.
Once operational, a Northern Star Resources equipment operator controlled the ControlMaster Guidance Loader from the WASM Kalgoorlie facility and resumed site required remote production rates.
Northern Star Resources currently uses ControlMaster Guidance Automation on its underground LHD fleet at the EKJV from an onsite Surface Control System.
RCT said: “The trial is a history-making event for the Goldfields region and represents an exciting opportunity for both Northern Star Resources and RCT and what can be achieved through the use of smart technology.”
RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “This trial has helped both businesses to understand what future opportunities there are in autonomous technology, which is not only exciting for both business but the local Goldfields community as well.
“To conduct the trial from the WA School of Mines is also a story worth sharing with the wider mining and METS (mining equipment technology and services) community, to showcase the great innovation coming from the Western Australian Goldfields region.”
ROCs represent great job opportunities for members of the labour force who traditionally would not be able to work on a mine site due to various lifestyle or personal factors, he added.
Chief Executive Officer of Northern Star Resources, Stuart Tonkin, said: “ROCs are proven for surface operations, but this advancement for an underground application is a significant development led by RCT in the Kalgoorlie Goldfields.”
He added: “Northern Star Resources encourages continual improvement and innovation, and we are very pleased with RCT’s commitment to developing practical mining solutions.”