When reviewing the rapid growth of interest in remote control operation of surface mining equipment, it’s worth looking back over eight years ago to when HARD-LINE’s TeleOp control systems were deployed on several heavy-duty machines at Codelco’s Mina Sur copper mine in Chile.
Codelco’s innovation strategy involves transferring and adapting existing technologies and developing new ones to address the challenges confronting the company’s mining and processing operations.
The pilot project was conducted at Codelco’s Mina Sur, 1,400 km north of Santiago (near Calama). Codelco has other operations in the area, Chuquicamata and Radomiro Tomic, mining primarily high volumes of low-grade copper. Members of the head office put together a pilot project to mine 52 m banks (Talud-Vertical). The strategy reduced the amount of overburden to be excavated and allowed workers to go down to greater depths in the open pit.
Codelco decided to implement HARD-LINE’s Teleop systems as a solution for its pilot project. The trade-off between achieving a bigger bench and handling less overburden versus the risk of losing a machine proved to be feasible. HARD-LINE’s TeleOp technology allowed the operators to safely complete this aggressive technique without any risk to human life.
Codelco purchased seven TeleOp systems to operate multiple heavy-duty machines at Mina Sur. The systems remotely operated three haul trucks (Komatsu 830E-AC), two dozers (Komatsu D375A and Caterpillar 834H), one shovel (Komatsu PC5500-6), and one water truck (Komatsu HD785-5LC) in the open pit.
HARD-LINE’s non-proprietary network was installed on-site with access points to connect the machines to the Teleop systems via WiFi. The TeleOp control systems were installed in a control room approximately 2 km away non line of sight, providing a safe and environmentally friendly location for the operators. The systems addressed Codelco’s safety concerns surrounding the pilot project. Each operator station was customised to function as if the operators were inside the vehicles using the actual equipment. This action reduced the amount of training required for the operators.