Olitek Mining Robotics and CMIC announce collaboration on Remote Charge-up Unit

Olitek Mining Robotics (Olitek), Australia and the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) are pleased to announce their partnership on the Remote Charge-up Unit (RCU) project. Globally, mines are getting deeper, and this forces a re-think of the manual mining practices that are common across our industry. Ground falls, stress-induced failure and rock bursting mean the development face is one of the highest hazard zones in any underground mine. The development face explosives loading and priming crews are most ‘at risk’ to these geotechnical hazards due to the lengthy exposure duration at the tunnel face to perform their tasks.

The partners stated: “As part of the global mining industry’s need for a safe means of undertaking the charge-up process at tunnel development faces, this collaboration will deliver viable mechanised charge up capability, supporting the industry’s drive towards Safe Deep Development/Mine Development in High Stress. The project will be delivered in a series of development phases through to a TRL7 (Technology Readiness Level) fully functioning prototype unit that will move personnel at least 4-5 m away from the underground development face and provide faster manual charge-up options to reduce exposure time for existing operations.”

The core enabling technology behind this project is Olitek’s innovative “Trigger Assembly” (pictured below), that enables lower cost conventional detonators to be mechanically safely and efficiently installed. The Olitek RCU technology was identified by CMIC members as redefining the approach to remote charge up. Olitek is known as a leader in the mining industry for producing smart machinery solutions that improve mining, in this case, the charge-up process at tunnel development faces.

“Olitek is very excited to be working with CMIC and the consortium partners on the RCU project. This consortium-approach to solving mining industry challenges offers the fastest and lowest-cost path to delivering successful mining R&D projects such as the RCU project, and ultimately fast-tracks us to saving lives and enabling deeper and more challenging mining projects,” said James Oliver, Managing Director at Olitek.

Tony Sprague, Group Manager, Mining Technology at Newcrest commented: “The underground tunnel face is a major hazard zone and a priority for the deployment of mechanised charge-up systems to protect our people. A group of like-minded mining companies is taking a peleton approach to this problem, working faster together in the development of robust & viable remote charge-up technology which removes the need for miners to enter the high hazard zone at the tunnel face. CMIC creates global networks and makes collaborations like this easy.”

CMIC will manage the consortium that includes, Agnico Eagle, Glencore, Newcrest, Olitek and Vale. “The pace of engagement and commitment among new and existing CMIC members and project participants is unsurpassed. We look forward to next steps and continued collaboration on upcoming projects with Olitek and the consortium,” said Trevor Kelly, Innovation Manager at CMIC.