Newmont has confirmed it is working with Titeline Drilling on the deployment of autonomous underground diamond drilling technology at its Tanami gold mine, in the Northern Territory of Australia.
In the miner’s March quarter results investor call, Chief Operating Officer, Rob Atkinson, highlighted the use of “industry-leading robotic technology for diamond rig drilling” at the mine, saying it had the capacity to remove employees from the line of fire when drilling and removing the fatality risk associated with equipment entanglement.
Titeline, having previously automated the drill rod handling function on surface drill rigs, has recently been looking to replicate this achievement underground. Working with Chile-based Exploration Drill Masters (EDM), who with Titeline helped develop the patent-pending EDM rod-feeder system for handling drill pipe on Titeline’s autonomous surface drills, the company has now come up with a system able to complete a drilling rod pull autonomously in the underground environment and, of course, drill autonomously.
Titeline, which has an existing grade control and resource definition contract at Tanami, supplied the two autonomous drill rigs now running at the underground mine, with Atkinson saying on the call that more robotic rigs were on the way.
“During 2020, we will integrate five robotic rigs to the fleet, and we’ll replicate this impressive technology at other Newmont underground sites globally,” he said.
Tanami is currently undergoing a stage two expansion including the construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at a depth of 2,140 m below surface.