Anglo American starts autonomous haulage at Los Bronces copper mine in Chile

As part of the continuous innovation that Anglo American seeks to achieve its purpose of re-imagining mining to improve people’s lives, the first two autonomous trucks at the Los Bronces copper mine in Chile were launched today – which are converted 290 t Komatsu 930E-4 trucks. This project is part of the site’s modernisation program, which includes the start-up of five Epiroc PV351 autonomous drilling rigs and the inauguration of its Integrated Remote Operation Centre (IROC), which both happened in 2021.

The event was held simultaneously at two locations: at the IROC, located in the Las Condes district, Santiago and at the Main Office, an autonomous truck operation centre located at the Los Bronces mine, in the Lo Barnechea district. The launch was attended by the Chilean Undersecretary of Mining, Willy Kracht; the Director of Sernageomin, Ignacio Domeyko; and the head of Sernageomin’s Department of Major Projects and Tailings Deposits, Jorge Vargas. Meanwhile, on behalf of Anglo American, the event was led by the company’s Executive President in Chile, Aaron Puna; the General Manager of Los Bronces, Patricio Hidalgo; the Vice President of People and Organisation, Sofía Sánchez; and the manager of Mine Modernisation, Cristóbal Mimica; in addition to workers and collaborators of Anglo American.

This initiative seeks to use cutting-edge technology as an enabler to promote a safer, more inclusive environment with a better quality of life for people, generating new opportunities for specialisation through training and education. At the same time, it allows more efficient use of resources, by having a more integrated vision of the operation based on Anglo’s FutureSmart Mining™ approach.

“I want to congratulate the effort that Anglo American has made and it seems to me that the mining of the future is present. Seeing that an autonomous truck is put into operation, with all the efforts that this implies, in terms of transforming work and the skills that have to be given to mining workers; deserves our respect. And all these efforts show us how value is generated around mining,” said the Undersecretary of Mining.

As of this moment, Los Bronces becomes one of the few operations in the world with a mixed operation, that is, it will have autonomous trucks, governed by the Komatsu FrontRunner AHS technology, which uses a WiFi network to function; and by trucks controlled by operators in the cabin, simultaneously. “Thanks to these trucks, the safety levels of our workers will be significantly increased. The quality of life of those who work in this area will improve by operating from remote centres, reducing the presence on the ground and, therefore, travel times,” explained Puna.

Cintia Aros, Operator Principal Transporte Los Bronces, also referred to the start-up of the trucks: “This initiative is literally re-imagining mining, and it is improving us as workers. It is a great development and learning.” In its entirety, the project contemplates an investment of $150 million and it is estimated that in 2024 62 electric drive Komatsu 930E trucks with this technology will be operating at Los Bronces.

“FrontRunner AHS is designed to help mines increase production while promoting zero harm,” said Anthony Cook, Vice President for Autonomous Systems at Komatsu. “We’re pleased that Anglo American, a long-time partner, has chosen FrontRunner to help achieve their goals and we look forward to continuing to collaborate on future optimisation opportunities.”

The 930E is the same truck that Anglo American working with collaborators including First Mode used for conversion to hybrid hydrogen fuel cell-lithium battery operation at Mogalakewna platinum mine in South Africa – recently seeing first movement as the nuGen™ truck. The use of this technology is also expected to be rolled out at Los Bronces by 2030 as part of a stated aim to have the new power trucks running at seven mines by that date.