Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations has achieved a world first in mobile equipment interoperability – integrating a remotely operated MacLean water cannon into its Epiroc automation fleet at Cadia East, in New South Wales, Australia.
In 2018, Cadia commenced a loader (LHD) automation trial with Epiroc, with the aim of removing operators from the Cadia East underground environment, while maintaining productivity and performance. The loader trial proved successful and the next phase involved integrating non-Epiroc machinery into the existing automation fleet, Epiroc said.
Cadia’s Mining Innovation & Automation team worked with Epiroc and MacLean to integrate a MacLean water cannon capable of localisation with Epiroc’s traffic management system and safety hardware, so that it could be introduced into the automation safety system.
Water cannons are used for secondary break operations, using high pressure water to release wedged rocks in underground drawpoints.
By integrating the MacLean IQ Series tele-operation system with Cadia’s automation safety system, the water cannon could be safely operated from the surface in a tele-remote capacity, allowing it to work alongside Cadia’s semi-automated loaders, Epiroc said.
The water cannon was trialled and commissioned during July and August and is now in use at Cadia East, according to Epiroc.
Cadia General Manager, Aaron Brannigan, said that integrating the water cannon into Cadia’s automation system has improved the efficiency of the production level and removed human exposure from drawpoints.
“We are constantly pushing the envelope of change in the innovation and technology space,” Brannigan said. “Automated machinery allows for shift in technical capabilities of our workforce, while ensuring we continue to eliminate safety risks from our operation.”
The success of this milestone paves the way for further integration of other key pieces of secondary break equipment into the automation system, according to Epiroc, which added: “This project is part of Newcrest’s ongoing drive to increase its automation and innovation focus on site.”