AngloGold Ashanti says it is considering the use of autonomous haulage at its Expanded Silicon project, in Nevada, USA, as part of plans to leverage new technology at the in-development asset.
Speaking on a roundtable discussion titled ‘Beyond the hype: how technology can drive mining operations performance’ organised by global subsurface software company Seequent, Marcelo Godoy, Chief Technology Officer at AngloGold Ashanti, said the company was studying the application of autonomous haulage to optimise efficiency and reduce risks at its projects in Nevada.
Discussing automation and robotics as one of three transformational technologies the company is looking to leverage to achieve its net-zero emissions goals by 2050 – electric vehicles and renewable technologies being the other two – Godoy said he saw robots running key production activities at the company’s mines by the time they reach net-zero emission status.
AngloGold has been leveraging automation in its drilling operations, with Godoy noting on the roundtable that the company was seeing improvements in terms of efficiency, precision and safety.
“We also make extensive use of semi-autonomous LHDs in our underground mines, and we are studying the application of autonomous haulage vehicles to optimise efficiency and reduce risks in our projects in Nevada,” he said.
Asked to expand on this by IM after the roundtable, he said: “Our Nevada projects are conceptualised as open-pit mining operations and, at this point, we are only looking at autonomous haulage.
“As far as I know, there is no proven and off-the-shelf autonomous loading technology that could successfully work in the hard-rock environments where we operate. Autonomous loading is still an ongoing technological development and I expect that it will become prevalent in the mining industry before the end of this decade.”
He added that the option of autonomous haulage is being considered at the company’s Expanded Silicon project, which builds off AngloGold’s discovery of the Silicon gold deposit in the Beatty District of Nevada.
In 2022, the company outlined a maiden inferred resource estimate of 3.37 Moz of gold at a grade of 0.87 g/t Au and 14.17 Moz of silver at 3.66 g/t Ag contained within a base of 120.4 Mt. A prefeasibility study is being worked on currently.