Leading miners back guideline for automation projects

Image: Christian Sprogoe Photography.

BHP, Teck Resources and Roy Hill have helped drive a project to develop a guideline for autonomous systems in the mining industry.

Published by the Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), the guideline offers a broad overview of autonomous systems that is designed to provide a framework for stakeholders of autonomous mining projects of various scales.

The guideline splits operations into six levels, from level zero (entirely manual operations) to level five (fully autonomous operations), and assists in the preparation of a business case for autonomous mining.

Its advice includes guidance for the slow, phased or fast implementation of autonomous systems, depending on stakeholder needs.

BHP principal, risk and business analysis technology, Chirag Sathe, and Teck senior mining engineer, technology, Glenn Johnson, acted as co-leaders on the project.

Sathe said the guideline was also useful for operations that were already using autonomous solutions.

“I would say that even though some mining companies have implemented autonomy, it hasn’t been a smooth ride and there are a number of lessons learned,” Sathe said.

“This guideline would be a good reference material to everyone to look at various aspects while implementing autonomy. It is not meant to provide answers to every potential issue, but it at least may provide some guidance on what to look for.”

The guideline covers operations ranging from a single autonomous vehicle through to highly autonomous fleets. It also includes advice regarding change management, developing a business case, health and safety and risk management, operational readiness, regulatory engagement, and community and social impact.

Roy Hill general manager improvement and smart business Christine Erikson said the guideline was relevant and practical in implementation as it covered all perspectives in the industry.

“[It] covers all aspects of operations, including people, safety, technology, engineering, regulatory requirements, business process and organisation models,” Erikson said.

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