PT Freeport Indonesia has successfully operated one of the largest mining operations in Indonesia for decades thanks to its ability to embrace technology solutions to enhance its mining operations, smart technology specialist and Freeport supplier RCT says.
Freeport runs copper, gold and silver mines across five separate underground and surface operations in the highlands area of West Papua in Indonesia.
For over 30 years Freeport has enlisted the services of RCT to achieve its goals of making mining operations safer for workers and to optimise operations.
In the early 1990s, Freeport implemented RCT’s ControlMaster® remote control solutions across its mixed Sandvik and Wagner production mining fleet operating in the DOZ underground mine and the Grasberg open pit.
ControlMaster was the ideal solution for Freeport’s mixed mining fleet due to its ability to integrate with any machine type and grant the user effective control of the machine from a safe vantage point, according to RCT.
This has seen RCT go from supplying ControlMaster remote solutions, to performing full machine rewiring projects on-site across the underground LHD fleet. It also included deploying the ControlMaster remote control technology across the surface mining fleet, including Cat D11 and D10R dozers, and installing teleremote technology onto a Cat 994 wheel loader within the open-pit mine.
RCT has also previously commissioned ControlMaster Line-of-Sight remotes onto a variety of surface drills, including a Commando drill and Cubex drill rigs as well as a fixed position rockbreaker.
Over the years Freeport’s technology requirements have evolved and every time RCT has supplied technology in-line with changing expectations, from providing analogue communications equipment through to more current digital networks, RCT said.
At present, RCT is providing bespoke technology solutions to Freeport’s entire fleet of specialised equipment.
RCT Account Manager, Shane Smith, said the local environment presents many unique challenges and Freeport is determined to address these issues with technology, and mine in a safe way.
“Due to hazardous conditions in the underground mines, such as wet muck rushes, Freeport sought to automate water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and other highly specialised equipment,” he said. “Global OEMs were not able to deliver technology to meet Freeport’s standards and so we customised our own technology to create a solution that suits their specific applications. This has been so successful that Freeport now instructs global OEMs that their machines must have an RCT solution fitted at a factory level.”
He added: “The current working relationship between Freeport and RCT is built on the foundations of many years of hard work in delivering effective automation solutions and supporting that technology.”
In 2015, Freeport asked for a RCT specialist to be deployed permanently on-site to provide a high level of support for the extensive range of automation solutions implemented across the mines.
These solutions include deploying the ControlMaster semi-autonomous technology on Cat R1700 and R2900 loaders, which can be managed by operators in Freeport’s central Remote Operation Room (ROR) on the mine’s surface.
Other projects include automating 24 chute systems spread across the Big Gossan, DOZ and DMLZ mines and relocating the chute operator from the gantry to the ROR.
Freeport has also implemented RCT’s Haul Truck Operator Assist technology to optimise underground truck loading operations.
Most recently, RCT commissioned a secondary breakage fleet at Big Gossan, including Getman and Elphinstone water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and Cat skid steers. The mobile rockbreakers have been commissioned with RCT’s autonomous ControlMaster technology and enables personnel to manage machine operations from the safety of the ROR.
Smith said going forward the team will enhance the Multi Fleet Select capability, which will enable site personnel to operate multiple machine types from one Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.
“We will soon have nine new Automation Centres located in Freeport’s ROR and we will fully support local personnel in the ramping up of their autonomous fleet operations,” he said. “Freeport is at the forefront of embracing technology to enhance their mining operations and we are very pleased to support them in this journey.”