Olitek Mining Robotics says it has reached an important milestone in its Remote Charge-up Unit (RCU) project with the dispatch of a RCU to Newmont’s Cadia operation in New South Wales, Australia.
The RCU uses robust mining robotics and a modified Volvo Construction Equipment wheeled excavator platform to enable full face charge-up from the safety of the cabin, Olitek explains.
Mechanised charge-up of tunnel development faces significantly reduces exposure of charge-up crews to tunnel face hazards such as seismicity, rockfalls, thermal stress and repetitive strain injuries. The development face explosives loading and priming crews are most ‘at risk’ to these geotechnical hazards due to the lengthy exposure duration at the tunnel face to perform their tasks.
The RCU project was part of a Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC)-backed consortium involving Vale, Newcrest (now Newmont), Agnico Eagle and Glencore, which sought to deliver a TRL7 (Technology Readiness Level) fully functioning prototype unit that will move personnel at least 4-5 m away from the underground development face and provide faster manual charge-up options to reduce exposure time for existing operations.
The system leverages Olitek’s patented HELX initiation system, allowing full charge-up and tie in to be completed using low-cost conventional detonators, the company says.
Olitek said the dispatch represents a major commercialisation milestone.