Anglo American has launched the first Epiroc Pit Vipers operating at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile to be remotely controlled from its Integrated Remote Operation Center (IROC) in Santiago.
These five drills are the first in Chile and Latin America to be operated from outside the designated mine site, with the company planning to have all five blasthole drills running by fully-autonomous means by 2022, Anglo American Chile said.
All five drills have automatic drilling systems, such as AutoDrill and self-levelling. These features allow the controller to set the target depth of a hole, with the machine automatically drilling, while the self-levelling function results in the machine automatically altering the hydraulics to level the equipment. The rigs are also fitted with a high-precision GPS system with automatic navigation system, which enables the drilling sequences to be carried out after the controller issues the relevant instructions.
The sensors and advanced control systems of this equipment allows the continuation of work routines with minimal human intervention, translating into increasingly safer operations, Anglo American Chile said.
These five rigs in question were previously operated from the Operational Management Room in the Los Bronces mine offices.
The automation initiative is part of a plan for the development and implementation of new technologies for mining at the Anglo American group level, all guided by the overarching FutureSmart Mining™ approach.
“With these innovations, the operation will become autonomous in its drilling cycles, without the intervention of an operator, manually or remotely, turning the operator into a system controller, and making this task much more efficient,” the company said (translated from Spanish).
Anglo has a 50.1% interest in the Los Bronces mine, which it manages and operates.