Sandvik autonomous LHD additions at New Afton set to come online

In 2023, New Afton increased its fleet of automated scoops (LHDs) by 40% with the addition of two new Sandvik LH410 units to its fleet of mining equipment. This delivery preceded the opening of a new Integrated Operations Centre building, which New Gold says increases New Afton’s capacity to house its expanding automation function on site.

As well as the LHDs, new automation chairs and servers for its upcoming AutoMine fleet upgrade arrived. Automated LHD operators are in the final stages of training for this AutoMine Fleet upgrade in anticipation of it coming on-board in Spring 2024.

The gold miner states: “Leading with innovation is a key component of New Gold’s value of Creativity. Our adoption of automated equipment enables efficiency gains, as operators do not have to commute to and from underground to begin operating the equipment, and with the AutoMine functionality, operators can control more than one piece of equipment at a time. This remote surface automation removes employees from potential hazards within the underground mine environment, and ergonomic and industrial hygiene factors for operators are improved in a stable chair within a temperature-controlled environment.”

It adds that automation enables operation of the equipment in high-risk environments, enabling New Afton to mine areas it otherwise wouldn’t be able to. “The new LH410s also produce less emissions and heat than the equipment previously used, decreasing overall emissions, diesel particulate matter and heat-related health risks for underground workers at the same time.”

For C-Zone, New Afton has plans for a mixed diesel and BEV fleet of automated equipment, both in LHDs and rock breakers. The mine statement concluded: “We welcome the new equipment onto site and congratulate the Mining and Maintenance departments for all the work they are putting into expanding our automated capabilities.”