Tag Archives: LHDs

Resolution copper mine looking to automation, Rio says

The partners at the Resolution copper project in Arizona, US, are likely to look to automation to solve the problems that come with operating at depths up to 2,100 m and temperatures in excess of 70°C, according to a member of Rio Tinto’s Growth & Innovation team.

Rob Atkinson, Head of Productivity & Technical Support for Rio’s G&I team, said operating at such a depth meant it really had to be “a fully autonomous mine”.

Resolution is a joint venture between Rio and BHP, with the former owning 55% and the latter 45%.

The proposed block cave hosts one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in North America, with a 1.79 Mt resource grading 1.54% Cu. When up and running, it is expected to operate at a rate of around 120,000 t/d, producing some 1,000 MIb/y (453,592 t/y) of the red metal. This would make it one of the biggest copper mines on the continent.

But, to get to this orebody, one of the deepest single-lift shafts in the US had to be sunk at No 10 shaft (7,000 ft or 2.1 km).

While sinking this, Cementation USA came across huge inflows of water and rock temperatures of up to 80°C, making excavation particularly tricky.

This is why haulage in the mine is likely to be carried out by autonomous equipment. According to a 2017 interview with then Vice President of Operational and Technical Support for Rio Tinto’s Copper & Diamonds business, Craig Stegman, autonomous LHDs could also potentially feed an autonomous ore handling system at the underground mine.

And, in addition to this, there is also the possibility of using battery-powered LHDs at the operation.

Stegman, at the time, said Rio was working with suppliers such as Caterpillar, Sandvik and Komatsu to create an alternative to vehicles that were tethered to an electrical connection.

The deposit, located 96 km east of Phoenix, near the town of Superior, is still some way off being exploited.

The Resolution Copper joint venture (55% Rio Tinto, 45% BHP) confirmed back in June that rehabilitation work at its No 9 Shaft was on track for completion in 2019. This shaft would then have to be deepened and connected to No 10 Shaft in 2021.

While the mine is likely to be autonomous, the operation is expected to employ some 1,400 direct employees as well as a further 2,300 contractors and other support roles, according to Rio.

Epiroc wins order for copper-zinc underground mine in Dominican Republic

Epiroc is to supply Corporación Minera Dominicana’s (Cormidom) Cerro de Maimon copper-zinc mine in the Dominican Republic with a new mining fleet as it transitions to an underground operation over the next few years.

The machines will allow the company, owned by Australia’s Perilya, to operate the new underground mine with “significantly increased productivity as well as enhanced safety and improved cost efficiency”, Epiroc said.

The order totals more than $24 million and was received in the June quarter 2018. It includes a Boomer M2 face drill rig (pictured), a Simba E7 hydraulic long-hole production rig, a Scooptram ST18 18 t LHD and Minetruck MT65, among other machines and rock drilling tools. The equipment will be delivered over the next two years in time for the mining transition.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said: “We are proud to be a key partner of Cormidom as they develop the Cerro de Maimon mine for significantly higher production.

“We are committed to delivering more productivity and safety to our customers at a lower total cost of operation.”

Perilya has been mining oxide and sulphide ore at Cerro de Maimon since October 2008 and flagged up the possibility of going underground in various studies around five years ago.

Paul Arndt, Managing Director of Perilya, said: “Perilya has a long and successful operating history with Epiroc in Australia. We see this as a chance to build on this relationship and develop further a strong partnership utilising Epiroc equipment throughout all the key phases of the mining cycle.”