Engineering group Sandvik has joined forces with Codelco to introduce state-of-the-art underground automation and digitalisation to the Chuquicamata mine in Chile.
The move is part of a 10-year strategic project by Codelco that aims to prolong the use of its existing mines, with operations due to start this year.
Sandvik is delivering the mine with a highly-advanced production automation system based on its award-winning AutoMine and OptiMine products.
The system allows Codelco to operate its new fleet of Sandvik LH621 loaders, which are used for underground production and rapid mine development, in full automation.
The open system integrates manual operations and autonomous equipment, allowing for full transparency and real-time control over the parallel production and mine development activities.
This has assisted in optimising the efficiency and safety of employees, according to operations manager of the Chuquicamata Underground, Andrés Avendaño.
“Using our mines to full effect is part of our focus on sustainability and a key driver for our business,” he said. “Automation and optimisation are critical to getting the most from out mines and keeping our people safe while we do it.”
Sandvik and Codelco began their automation partnership in 2004, when they introduced the first-ever AutoMine Loading system at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine.
Codelco’s latest decision to use the systems comes after last year’s launch of an underground automation project by Perth-based gold producer Resolute Mining.
Resolute partnered with Sandvik to fully automate the Syama underground gold mine in Mali, West Africa.
New South Wales-based copper-gold mine Northparkes began its automation journey with Sandvik 10 years ago, introducing the AutoMine loading and haulage automated system for underground mines.
In an industry first, Northparkes was the first company to achieve this across an entire operational level in an underground mine.
Sandvik’s digital solutions including AutoMine, OptiMine and “My Sandvik” are implemented in hundreds of mines around the world.