Tag Archives: LHDs

HARD-LINE expands into new NORCAT underground facility

A long-time partner of NORCAT, HARD-LINE says it is evolving its remote-control systems in a new space at NORCAT’s surface facility at the former Fecunis mine site in Onaping, Ontario.

HARD-LINE, a global technology company specialising in remote and tele-remote-control solutions, uses drift space at NORCAT’s underground site.

Inside HARD-LINE’s new office is a TeleOp control station that allows the tele-remote operation of heavy machinery and, in this case, an underground LHD at the test site.

“This new space is a welcomed addition to an already impressive site,” HARD-LINE’s Senior VP of Technology, Ryan Siggelkow, says. “The bigger space will allow for more people to meet in our office and ultimately let us test products in a more efficient manner, including new tech like our TeleOp Assist.”

The Assist system is new to market and equips the TeleOp base system with intelligent steering assistance and collision detection to keep LHDs off walls. It also increases tramming speeds, and no pre-scan of the drift is required, according to HARD-LINE.

HARD-LINE’s Supervisor of Technology Implementation, Jim Doyle, is often at the new facility and underground site testing different types of mining equipment. Doyle credits the NORCAT partnership in advancing HARD-LINE’s technology.

“Our relationship with NORCAT is really beneficial,” he said. “We’ve seen growth and improvements in our products over the years because of it.”

The partnership dates back to 2012 when HARD-LINE helped formulate the Underground Centre’s strategy and customer value proposition.

NORCAT CEO, Don Duval, said: “We are excited to build on our existing relationship and support HARD-LINE as they expand into our new surface facilities at the NORCAT Underground Centre. With HARD-LINE’s TeleOp control station, we have seen operators given the ability to control underground heavy machinery from the safety of an office at the Underground Centre. This technology is not only enhancing productivity and safety but also it is transforming the definition of work in the global mining industry.”

Just last month, NSS Canada announced a new partnership with NORCAT and the addition of a new NSS Canada office in the NORCAT Underground Centre.

Vast Resources to leverage new equipment and XRT ore sorting at Baita Plai

Vast Resources has devised a new mechanised mine plan for its Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania that will see mining capacity increase by 65% and ore sorting employed to increase mill feed grades.

The new mine plan includes the acquisition of three LHDs (including at least one narrow-vein electric LHD), an Aramine face jumbo drill rig, two Resemin Muki 22 long hole drilling rigs and a TOMRA X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorter.

Execution risk is expected to be significantly reduced compared with the old labour-intensive plan through the employment of senior international staff; the use of increased mechanisation; and the fact that shortly, with the expediated development plan now possible through the new equipment, the mining areas will be in areas newly drilled by the company and not in less stable old mining areas, the company said.

The company, in co-operation with TOMRA Mining, has concluded an initial investigation on ore from Baita Plai as part of the development of the new mining and processing plan. The objective of the work was to determine the amenability of ore from Baita Plai to be pre-concentrated using TOMRA sensor-based sorting technologies to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate, pre-milling feed.

“The study showed a clear amenability for the ore to be separated using TOMRA’s advanced XRT technology to identify both massive mineralisations, as well as fine mineral inclusions, using its proprietary combination detection algorithms to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate and eliminate non-grade containing waste material,” the company said.

The XRT implementation and processing plant upgrades are set to be completed by December 2021, the company said, with mill feed grades expected to be concentrated by 1.25-1.75 times. This would see the sensor-based sorter shift 60% of tonnage into the accept stream for the mill and 40% into the reject stream, with a 92% yield in the accept tonnage.

The new mine plan presents a cost reduction of 21% in dollars per mined tonne with an operational efficiency of 63 tonnes per total employee costed (TEC) at steady state, versus the previous plan efficiency metric of 43 tonnes per TEC, Vast Resources said. It also sees mining capacity rise to 22,000 t/mth, from 13,300 t/mth.

Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer of Vast Resources, said: “This is a robust and comprehensive mine plan which has been developed using rigorous technical parameters. On behalf of the board, I believe the plan set out to shareholders today represents a benchmark for us to deliver on over the coming years in tandem with our broader expansion plans at Baita Plai and across our wider portfolio.”

Autonomous loading, hauling set to sparkle at Codelco’s Diamante

One of the three underground projects to make up the El Teniente New Mine Level development, in Chile, is set to use state-of-the-art autonomous technologies, Codelco’s Javier Cornejo told attendees at Massmin 2020 today.

In a presentation titled, ‘Design of drawpoint spacing at Diamante Project – El Teniente Mine’, Cornejo confirmed that the company planned to use 13 yd³ (9.9 m³) LHDs and 60 t haul trucks in autonomous mode at the copper project, with only assisted loading required on the LHDs.

The project, which will use conventional panel caving with hydraulic fracturing, is due to have a production capacity of 35,000 t/d, with each autonomous loader extracting 152 t/h to ore passes and each haul truck transporting 208 t/h to 420 t/h ore bins. From here, the ore will head to the processing plant via 830 t/h autonomous rail haulage.

Diamante’s development will involve 40 km of horizontal development in total, along with 2 km of vertical development. It also contemplates a new access tunnel to El Teniente. In more detail, Diamante will include the main undercut at level 2060, production level (LHD transport from 102 drawpoints to ore passes – in total 1.4 Mm³) at 2038, ventilation level at 2020, truck haulage level at 2000 (trucks to ore bins), feeding the main existing mine rail haulage FFCC T8 system at 1980 level via two crosscuts.

It is one of three underground projects that make up the El Teniente New Mine Level project. Diamante and the other two – Andesita and Andes Norte – will help access the deepest levels of the mine and extend operations by 50 years, according to Codelco.

In the company’s most recent September quarter report, Codelco said the El Teniente New Mine Level project was 62.6% advanced. Due to COVID-19, the project was halted on July 4, with work restarting on Andesita and Diamante in August.

Codelco’s Board of Directors recently approved $730 million and $513 million investments in Diamante and Andesita, respectively.

Epiroc ‘new generation’ Boomer drill rig to launch in 2021

Epiroc is planning a “new generation” Boomer face drilling launch in 2021 as it looks to capture more market share in the underground mining contractor market.

Speaking at Epiroc’s Capital Markets Day Fika 2020 event on Monday, Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, said the new rigs would be designed for increasing both production and safety.

The company referred to the machine in presentation slides as a “true development rig, fully equipped for multi-task operation and automation”, with Niiranen adding that the Boomer will come with a battery-electric driveline option.

During his presentation, Niiranen also provided investors and interested parties with the latest numbers on Epiroc’s digitalisation and automation solutions.

He confirmed that more than 1,000 machines were now connected to the company’s Certiq telematics system, while there were circa-90 production Simba production drills operating autonomously. This came alongside around 50 automated underground LHDs and some 670 drills with full automation capability.

Atlantic Nickel ready to delve underground for Santa Rita mine life expansion

Atlantic Nickel has released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on its Santa Rita nickel mine, in Brazil, that shows the potential for the company to become one of the largest sustainable nickel sulphide producers in the world.

The announcement, made in concert with Appian Capital Advisory LLP (the owner of Atlantic Nickel), follows the recommencement of open-pit mining at Santa Rita in August 2019.

This new NI 43-101 technical report outlines a 34-year mine life for Santa Rita, in Bahia, with eight years of open-pit production, underpinned by proven and probable reserves of 50.6 Mt at 0.31% NiS, and 26 years of underground mining.

The open-pit mine plan was prepared to prefeasibility study level and encompasses a large open pit and a nearby, much smaller satellite open pit along strike. Both pits will be mined with conventional mining equipment, and the plan will be executed in 10 phases, the company says.

The open pit is scheduled over a period of eight years, ending in 2028, with operations using standard methods of drilling and blasting, loading, and hauling. It would produce 20,000-25,000 t/y of contained nickel equivalent at a C1 cost of $2.97/lb Ni and an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $4.12/lb Ni, the company says.

The Santa Rita process plant, having started production in 2009, was completely refurbished and recommissioned in the second half of 2019 in line with the mine restart. The plant consists of crushing, grinding, flotation, thickening and filtration unit operations to produce a saleable nickel concentrate. Flotation tailings are pumped to a tailings storage facility, while grinding is performed by a SAG mill, two ball mills and two pebble crushers. This is followed by a conditioning circuit and a flotation circuit, with the final concentrate thickened and pumped to storage tanks ready for filtration. Concentrate is filtered in a Larox (Metso Outotec) pressure filter. Following filtration, the final concentrate is trucked to the port of Ilhéus where it is loaded onto ships for transport to market.

The mineral resource estimate for the expansion case consists of 94.2 Mt of measured and indicated resources across open-pit and underground mining at average grades of 0.41% NiS, 0.14% Cu, 0.01% Co, 0.03 g/t Pd, 0.07 g/t Pt and 0.05 g/t Au, with 90.6 Mt of inferred resource at 0.54% NiS, 0.17% Cu, 0.02% Co, 0.04 g/t Pd, 0.09 g/t Pt and 0.06 g/t Au.

Sublevel Caving (SLC) was selected as the mining method for the underground portion of the deposit based on the amenable geometry of the deposit, and because productivity and cost advantages of SLC enable greater exploitation of the underground resource at greater margin than more selective mining methods, Atlantic Nickel said.

“The geometry of the deposit and the location below a mined open pit are similar to the Ernest Henry SLC, which is successfully operated by Ernest Henry Mining (a subsidiary of Glencore) in Queensland, Australia,” the company added.

The SLC mining method employs long-hole drilling and blasting techniques to extract mineralisation sequentially from the surface to the bottom of the deposit. The method does not require backfill and, therefore, relies on the overlying waste rock to cave and fill the mined void, the company explained. Caving of the overlying waste rock results in surface subsidence above and in the immediate vicinity of the underground deposit, but the subsidence will not interfere with open-pit mining since initial production from underground is planned to commence in 2028 when open-pit mining is completed.

Infrastructure capital and development of the underground project is planned to start at the beginning of 2026, with production from the underground ramping-up over a seven-year period until full production of 6.2 Mt/y is achieved.

The underground portion of the resource considered in the PEA plan consists of 43.5 Mt of indicated resources and 90.6 Mt of inferred resources. This resource was used to come up with a 40,000-45,000 t/y of contained nickel equivalent production profile for the underground operation over life of mine at a C1 cost of $2.17/lb Ni and an AISC of $3.92/lb Ni.

The SLC mining layout in the PEA comprises 37 mining levels spaced at vertical intervals of 25 m. Each level is made up of parallel and evenly spaced drill drives from which production drilling and blasting occur. Once blasted, the mineralisation is loaded from the drill drives using LHDs and loaded into trucks for haulage to the surface during the initial ramp-up phase, and later to ore passes feeding an underground crushing station and conveying to surface via an inclined tunnel.

“The SLC method employs a top-down mining sequence that enables production to ramp-up quickly once the top of the underground deposit has been accessed,” Atlantic Nickel says. “The method also enables high production rates as the mining cycle is simplified by the standardisation of development and production and with no backfilling required.”

While still early days in terms of the underground mine’s development plans, the company assumed the use of automated LHDs, longhole drilling and jumbo development drilling in the PEA, a spokesperson for Atlantic Nickel confirmed to IM. This saw Epiroc and Sandvik provide price inputs, with design layouts anticipating such equipment.

“Subsequent studies will optimise the equipment and layouts integration,” the spokesperson added.

And, while the current study assumes the use of a diesel-powered fleet, battery-electric vehicles will also provide upside in future studies and further reduce energy costs, equipment maintenance costs and ventilation power costs, the spokesperson said.

“Both tethered and battery will be look at for specific applications within the mine such as loading from drawpoints and feeding the underground crusher from the bottom of ore passes,” the spokesperson said.

The flotation test work gave similar results to those obtained with open-pit material; hence, plant performance is not expected to be significantly different for underground material, the company said. Underground feed will be treated in Atlantic Nickel’s existing process plant with only minor modifications required, likely to the grinding circuit.

New surface infrastructure associated with the underground mine would include the following:

  • A box cut and portal located to the west of the north end of the open pit;
  • A conveyor portal connecting to the bottom of the existing crusher installation;
  • A temporary construction portal in the west wall at the north end of the open pit on the 82 m RL bench;
  • Multiple ventilation raise surface collars on the western side of the open pit;
  • Ventilation adits on the west wall at the south end of the open pit on the 10 m RL bench;
  • Dewatering pond for storing, settling and recycling water from underground;
  • Electrical reticulation to the portals, adits and services; and
  • Shotcrete batch plant.

After completion of open pit mining, a new tailings storage facility would be required to store the additional 134 Mt of tailings to be produced from the underground mine over a period of 28 years. Like the existing tailings storage facility, raises will be constructed using a downstream method, the company said.

Total capital associated with the underground expansion amounts to $1.3 billion over the 34-year combined operation, with only $355 million of that being spent during the first five years of underground development commencing in 2026. The expansion is partially self-funding with cash flows generated from the open-pit mining operation, the company said.

Polymetal and SMT Scharf sign underground electric vehicle MoU

Polymetal and SMT Scharf have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a potential strategic cooperation in underground electric vehicles (EV) development in line with the miner’s climate strategy.

The MoU outlines that Polymetal and SMT will cooperate in the development, implementation and testing of zero-emission battery EVs. Initially, the collaboration is to be focused on mid-ranged LHDs and trucks, with potential involvement of drill rigs and utility vehicles in the future, Polymetal said.

IM understands Polymetal has previously tested RDH (now owned by Scharf under RDH-Scharf) battery-electric machines at some of its underground mines.

Two pairs of units (an LHD and truck) are going to be tested at Polymetal’s operations during the one-year trial with further collaborative re-design, signing of a distribution agreement and establishment of an after-sales support centre, Polymetal said, adding that the strategic cooperation is set to last for 10 years with an opportunity for further extension.

“The partnership with SMT grants us an easy access to customisable battery-electric vehicles which could positively contribute to our operating costs dynamics, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and personnel safety at underground mines,” Vitaly Savchenko, COO of Polymetal, said. “It fits well into our strategy to gradually involve EVs across the group’s operations and marks another step towards cutting carbon emissions by 5% in 2023.”

Polymetal’s GHG emissions from mining fleet and mobile machinery at the hubs with underground mines for 2019 were 334 Kt of CO2 equivalent, which is 12% of the group’s total emissions (Scope 1+ 2).

Petra Diamonds’ Project 2022 initiative provides bright spot in latest interims

Late last week, Petra Diamonds confirmed that its “Project 2022” initiative was fully operational at both mine sites and the group level.

This milestone, coming in the face of recent output disruptions and the suspension of the company’s production guidance following the outbreak of COVID-19, is worth a mention.

When announcing Project 2022 in July 2019, Petra said the initiative was targeting an initial $150-200 million of free cashflow over a three-year period from the company’s 2019 financial year (year ending June 30, 2019) to its 2022 financial year (year ending June 30, 2022).

An internal project team, led by former Cullinan diamond mine General Manager, Juan Kemp, was established to identify and drive these efficiencies. Petra also appointed Partners in Performance, a global management consulting firm, to support Kemp and the project team.

The focus of Project 2022 is mainly on improving throughput at the company’s operations – which includes the Cullinan, Finsch and Koffiefontein mines in South Africa and the Williamson mine in Tanzania. Cost efficiencies, strategic sourcing and one-off initiatives are also included in its remit, all of which are likely to be handled at the group level.

In the interim update at the end of last week, Petra said the work to date had entailed a structured assessment of the value drivers at each mine site.

It said: “All ideas are evaluated and identified initiatives are systematically structured with timelines, enablers and project plans for each.

“The implementation of the identified initiatives was firmly on track but has been significantly interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown. When operations return to full capacity, focused steps will be taken to continue the initiatives to ensure the delivery of the expected benefits.”

While revenue fell in the nine months to the end of March 2020, Petra said production rose 2% in this period to just over 3 Mct. This demonstrated “the delivery of significant throughput benefits realised through the implementation of Project 2022, offset by the disruptions to production relating to Eskom load shedding during Q2 FY 2020 (December quarter of 2019) and the COVID-19 lockdown measures towards the end of Q3 (March quarter of 2020)”, it said.

In a February 2020 update (reviewing the six months to the end of December 2019), the company said Project 2022 remained on track to deliver significant cash flow generation, reaching an annualised rate of $50-80 million.

It added: “However, the operational cash flow benefits are being eroded by a weaker diamond market, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has served to significantly reduce activity across the pipeline.

“In light of this continued market weakness, coupled with the impact of adverse product mix, the delivery of Project 2022’s cumulative cash flow target is expected to be delayed, resulting in the $150-200 million being revised to $100-150 million by June 2022.”

Despite this setback, in the six-months to the end of December 2019, Petra achieved a record half year of run of mine production – 7 Mt treated and 2.07 Mct recovered – as part of the Project 2022 efforts.

Specific ideas considered under Project 2022 within its mining operations include the shrinking of shift changes to increase the number of productive hours on LHDs by changing the blasting time and ensuring shift handovers happen efficiently; appointing a contractor to load over the weekends; improving LHD cycle time by reducing delays from refuelling, operational delays (eg large boulders) and unplanned maintenance; and implementing a new shaft shift structure to increase winder operating time and reduce the amount of time the LHDs have to stop loading due to full underground silos.

These mining ideas are complemented by a set of ideas in the plant, the company said.

This includes the optimisation and redesign of high-pressure grinding roll crushers; refurbishing and redesigning the rolls so they crush recycled material more effectively and reduce the recycle load of the milling circuit. This would allow a higher proportion of run of mine ore to be fed into the mills, it said.

The company also wants to develop best practices for operation of the mills; improving automated control and standardising operating procedures to allow for a more consistent operating performance and a higher overall feed rate.

On top of this, Petra is looking into accelerating its processing of historical high value “red tailings” to fill plant capacity.

Gold Fields looks for South Deep productivity boost with teleremote loading project

As part of plans to establish a sustainable footing for its South Deep mine in South Africa, Gold Fields is trialling teleremote loading in a project with automation specialist RCT.

Gold Fields’ problems at South Deep have been well documented, with the company, in 2018, launching a restructuring plan involving the reduction of mining areas, the lowering of overhead costs and an aim to use fewer machines more productively. This followed significant amounts of investment and continued underperformance at the mine.

It is the latter productivity goal that has led the company down the teleremote loading path.

In the June quarter of 2019, Gold Fields commenced non-line of site remote loading training at South Deep. Phase one of the project was to locate the operator control station in close proximity to the underground loading site, according to the company.

Martin Preece, Executive Vice-President Gold Fields South Africa, said soon after this training started, operators suggested an almost immediate move to “Phase 2” with an operator control station located in a recently built surface control centre in the main building at South Deep.

A surface automation chair was ordered from RCT, installed and commissioned in the centre and the company started the process of training up operators.

RCT’s ControlMaster® Automation and Control solutions enable companies to automate a single machine, to a fully autonomous fleet, while also offering step changes with teleremote solutions that allow operators to take control of machines from control centres, trailer cabins or mobile stations.

The interoperability of these systems allows for the seamless integration into any mine’s ecosystem, according to RCT.

Preece said Gold Fields’ approach with all technology is to trial with limited application, to develop and prove the technology, followed by rapid roll out.

“We are still in the first phase of the project and are learning and adapting our approach as we progress to perfect the system before broader application,” he said.

This first phase already has the company using one Sandvik LH514 LHD for teleremote loading operations in the long-hole stope loading areas of South Deep during shift changes. As Preece explained, the RCT technology allows for the LHD to tram between loading and dumping locations, and back autonomously with operator intervention only required when loading and tipping the LHD.

RCT has provided the on-board sensor technology, the network infrastructure in the working areas, the safety application and the surface operating chair – the Operation Automation Centre – located in the surface control centre, he said.

The control centre (pictured, left) was designed and established by South Deep and hosts the teleremote LHD operator automation centre, a teleremote rock breaker station, the operations control room, maintenance and production scheduling as well as business reporting functions.

This teleremote loading technology is, essentially, adding loaded tonnes to the operation where there previously was none, coming close to ticking off the ‘use of fewer machines more productively’ criteria Gold Fields previously set out in its turnaround plan. While not explicitly stated by the company, one would expect it helped South Deep achieve a 36% year-on-year boost in long hole stoping volumes mined, to 631,000 t, in 2019. Overall, Gold Fields said the mine produced 222,000 oz of attributable gold last year.

Teleremote rollout?

Preece said the technology it is trialling has been de-risked in the respect that it has been proven in many applications globally, and the company had very clear safety and commercial imperatives for it.

“The success of any change intervention is to ensure that the application becomes an enabler rather than a distraction for our frontline teams,” he said.

“We would like to believe we are close to operational deployment. Most of the initial challenges experienced with the technology itself have been addressed; the underground mining team is taking ownership by addressing the operating conditions. Furthermore, a second round of operator and maintenance training has been conducted.”

While the trial is currently limited to long-hole stope loading in between shift changes, in time, teleremote loading in development and destress areas of the mine could also be possible, Preece said. With plans to equip more machines in 2020, the results could get even better.

“The project business case is based on being able to continue loading over shift changes, so there is further upside when we add in the in-shift productivity gains as well as improvements to the development and destress mining cycles,” he said. “Our approach to expanding the rollout is that it must be self-funding – the value generated by the first deployment must fund the rollout of subsequent deployments.”

The company’s ultimate goal is to be able to operate LHDs continuously for 22 hours a day (the limit the machine can safely operate between refuelling, safety inspections and pre-start inspections, according to Preece), but there is more to achieving this aim than just rolling out teleremote LHDs.

“A pre-requisite for loading during shift changes is to be able to break big rocks in the tipping bins,” Preece said. This is where the successful deployment of teleremote rock breaking, operated from the same surface control centre as the remote LHDs, comes in.

Then there are the interactions with other equipment and, most importantly, people to consider.

“When operating the teleremote machine, the whole area has to be barricaded, isolated and protected by laser barriers, which, if breached, force the machine to stop automatically,” he said. “This will limit the application to areas which we can isolate.”

In areas where personnel are required to perform drilling, supporting, backfilling and other activities, the area cannot be completely isolated and the LHD cannot function optimally, according to Preece.

This might not be the case indefinitely.

“South Deep is exploring opportunities to schedule activities separately to enable broader application,” Preece said.

Similar technology deployed for trucks would be another future area of focus, according to Preece, while he said the mine was also in the early stages of trialling automated long-hole drilling in stopes over shift changes.

South Deep is one of the deepest mines in the world, going to depths close to 3,000 m below surface. Even so, depth is not one of the main business drivers for the increased take up of teleremote operations, according to Preece.

“Safety benefits and the time a machine can effectively be utilised make up for the bulk of the return on investment,” he said. “The challenge with deeper mines are on the support side; if the network infrastructure is in place, it should be the same for shallow or deep mines. For deeper mines, it will take longer to get maintenance and instrumentation support to the machine if something goes wrong.”

Still, could full automation be on the cards?

“Yes! Loading activity remains the most challenging given the variable fragmentation of material,” Preece said. “Operators still need to perform the loading and tipping activities.”

These teleremote and automation projects, on top of personnel and mobile equipment tracking systems previously mentioned in the company’s 2019 annual report, bode well for future automation take up at South Deep, as well as the success of Gold Fields’ turnaround plan for the asset.

RCT OEM-agnostic teleremote solution favoured at Kazzinc UG mine

RCT says its ControlMaster® Teleremote solution has bested a competitive offering from a global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on a project for an underground mine in Kazakhstan.

The company said ControlMaster was selected over the OEM’s technology option as it could be tailored to the Tishinsky mine’s specific requirements.

RCT worked with local Cat dealer Borusan Kazakhstan to install and commission the automation technology on two Cat R1700G underground loaders and associated Automation Centres located within the underground mine.

The ControlMaster Teleremote solution is now being used at the Tishinsky copper mine, in north-eastern Kazakhstan, part of the Ridder underground complex, owned by Kazzinc (majority owned by Glencore).

Going forward, RCT says it will manufacture the teleremote technology for an additional 12 Cat R1700G and Cat R1300G underground loaders, while Borusan Kazakhstan will install this equipment at the Tishinsky and Dolinnoye (also part of Ridder) mines.

“The teleremote solution enables machine operators to control the machine from a secure station in the underground mine with the help of strategically placed cameras and sensors,” RCT said. “Teleremote technology enables machine operators to access the machine’s full range of functions that they would normally have if they were sitting in the machine’s cab.”

The company has also supplied its new digital communications network, RCT Connect, and integrated it with the underground loaders.

RCT Connect, launched earlier this year, is designed specifically for autonomous and teleremote machine operations in underground mining environments and can provide low latency, consistent communications between command inputs from the mine’s surface and subsequent machine activities, according to RCT.

RCT’s Moscow-based Business Development Manager – CIS, Stephen Macarow, said he is pleased to have completed the project in partnership with Borusan Kazakhstan.

“Our teleremote solution means the operators will control the loaders from inside the Automation Centre and they will be protected from the hazardous conditions often found at the mine face including geotechnical risks, dust, exhaust fumes and temperatures as low as -27⁰C,” he said.

“The mining company will also experience improved site productivity through reduced shift handover times and less unplanned maintenance downtime from machine operator errors.”

He added: “RCT has been supplying proven technological solutions to the mining industry in Kazakhstan and the broader CIS region for over 25 years and we look forward to providing more autonomous solutions in the future.”

A spokesperson for Borusan Kazakhstan said the company has been working with RCT since 2008 and in that time has delivered multiple automation projects for the Kazakhstan mining industry, including at the Tishinsky mine.

“Borusan Kazakhstan has been actively watching the regional mining market, and in cooperation with RCT has developed teleremote technology that is suitable for the CIS market,” the spokesperson said.

“In collaboration with RCT, Borusan Kazakhstan currently provides remote control and teleremote solution implementation, standard and adapted-for-the-customer equipment delivery, maintenance services and employee technology training.”

Caterpillar, Barloworld to talk up mining equipment and power solutions at Indaba

Caterpillar and its southern Africa dealer, Barloworld Equipment, are set to present a broad range of machines, technology and support services at next week’s Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Caterpillar exhibit at Indaba, running from February 3-6, will feature digital displays of electric power generation systems, surface and underground mining equipment, and Cat MineStar™ technology capabilities – ranging from vehicle safety systems, such as operator fatigue monitoring, to production systems using teleremote, semi-autonomous and autonomous machine operation.

Caterpillar has recently introduced several new underground hard-rock mining vehicles in Africa. The new R1700 underground LHD brings the latest technology for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous operation to the region. The loader also delivers more than 30% greater fuel efficiency, 65% more lift and tilt force, and 15 t capacity – 20% more than its predecessor, yet in the same dimensional envelope, according to Cat.

Using MineStar Command for underground, the new R1700 (pictured) can be operated from a remote location to keep miners away from potential hazards, Cat says. “The system also boosts utilisation by allowing immediate entry after blasting and by reducing shift change time to nearly zero.”

In addition to the R1700, Caterpillar has introduced several LHDs and underground trucks equipped with EU Stage V engines and emission controls. “Reducing emissions helps miners improve the underground working environment,” it said. On top of this, and with the goal of zero underground emissions in mind, Caterpillar is continuing to develop the battery-powered R1700 XE.

Erik Elsmark, Region Manager for the Caterpillar Underground Mining Division, said: “Caterpillar and Cat dealers are supporting the whole African continent and all types of underground mining applications – big and small mines and all minerals.

“In the past several months we have delivered machines covering our full product range, demonstrating that we are well positioned to meet our customers’ needs.

“Starting with our AD22 underground articulated truck to our R2900 LHD, our equipment delivers exactly the size class and power needed for the application. With distribution centres in Southern Africa and Middle East and our dealer network in all countries of the African continent, we are able to achieve world-class service.”

The extensive line of Cat surface mining machines and technologies will also be a talking point at the event.

Caterpillar has recently expanded its line of electric drive mining trucks in the past year to include the 794 AC, 796 AC and 798 AC. Recently, a South Africa mining operation took delivery of several 794 AC trucks (pictured above), which have 291 t capacity, the company said. “This model has already proven its high productivity and superior speed on grade in a wide variety of applications,” Cat remarked.

In the Cat drill line, the latest model is the MD6200 rotary blasthole drill, designed as a production drill with the flexibility to do pre-split drilling – all in a package that Caterpillar says is its most transportable rotary drill yet. The MD6200 is designed to perform rotary or DTH drilling in single-pass or multi-pass modes and can drill holes of 127 to 200 mm in diameter, according to Cat.

Cat MineStar Command now includes systems for autonomous operation of mining trucks, semi-autonomous operation of dozers, and semi-autonomous as well as autonomous rotary drills. These systems enhance safety, boost production and lower cost per tonne, Cat says.

Mine power experts will also be on call at the show, with the representatives keen to talk about the ability for Cat generators to deliver reliable, continuous power, temporary power, or a combined heat and power solution. “The Cat team customises and installs systems for every phase of mining,” it said.

Caterpillar says it offers the industry’s widest range of diesel, gas and dual fuel generator sets; automatic transfer switches, and switchgear for seamless integration. Additionally, it offers microgrids, fully-integrated power systems that utilise solar panels, energy storage and monitoring and control systems in conjunction with any configuration of Cat gen sets.