Barrick Gold’s automation and electrification efforts look to be gaining pace, with the leading gold miner revealing it has been testing out new technology at some of its operations in the US and Canada.
In its recently released annual report, Barrick said the first stage of a project designed to retrofit an autonomous system at its Carlin gold mine, in Nevada, had been completed successfully.
Matthew Majors, Open Pit Operations Superintendent at Carlin Surface, said in a presentation last month that multiple underground evaluation deployments, surface drilling OEM evaluation, and non-OEM surface production haulage options had been evaluated across the Barrick and Newmont jointly-owned Nevada Gold Mines business.
While the company didn’t provide any more details on the project, Barrick has previously leveraged ASI Mining’s OEM-agnostic autonomous solution at its jointly-owned South Arturo gold operation, also in Nevada. This saw the completion of a proof of concept (POC) using five haulage units “that have delivered over 5.5 Mt faster than any other similar POC in the industry”, Barrick said last year.
At Kibali, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains a world leader in underground automation with multiple autonomous machines operating on the same haulage level, the company recently completed a trial to use this technology on the mine’s production levels. This means a single operator can now control up to three machines acting semi-autonomously in different zones, Barrick said.
It added: “An additional system, which will provide real-time visibility of the underground operations, including personnel and equipment tracking, is currently being commissioned.”
And, lastly, on the electric vehicle front, the company said its Hemlo gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, has introduced a battery-powered development drill “as a first step towards establishing the potential of this new technology”.
Hemlo recently moved from a combined open-pit and underground owner-operated mine to an underground-only contract mining model as part of a plan to transition Hemlo into a Tier Two asset with a life of mine well into the future.
Barrick’s Turquoise Ridge gold operation is also evaluating new battery-electric technology, with the company confirming a battery-powered underground haul truck is being trialled at the mine.