ESG, ESG targets, OEMS

The future of autonomous mining

XCMG automation manager Morgan David has a plan in hand to bring Australia’s autonomous haulage solutions into a new era.

Autonomous mining has gone from sci-fi fantasy to hard-rock reality in recent years with the biggest names in Australian mining revolutionising their operations with next-generation mining technology.

With the benefits of autonomous equipment spanning everything from boosted productivity, increased safety, lower costs and beyond, it’s easy to see why autonomous solutions have taken the mining industry by storm.

XCMG is one equipment manufacturer leading the charge.

For over 30 years, XCMG has held the title of China’s largest mining and construction equipment manufacturer and was last year ranked third largest in the world by International Construction Magazine.

As the company brings its years of experience to Australian soil, it has a plan to take autonomous mining to the next level.

XCMG’s fully autonomous cableless electric mining truck.
Image: XCMG

XCMG automation manager Morgan David is spearheading XCMG’s autonomous expansion into the global market, starting with Australia.

With over a decade of experience in delivering autonomous haulage solutions (AHS), David is bringing his wealth of knowledge and expertise to support XCMG’s autonomous rollout.

“We have over 65 dedicated engineers working on AHS, and more than 5700 people working across our entire research and development (R&D) department,” David told Australian Mining.

“Our team is working hard to hit the ground running and build off the industry knowledge that has amassed over the years autonomous mining has been developed.”

XCMG’s autonomous strategy prioritises a strategic focus on intelligent capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) software for learning, and advanced features.

From autonomous mining trucks to loaders and dozers, XCMG is committed to providing a cost-effective and safer solution for miners worldwide.

“Our mission is to make these solutions cost effective for all Australian miners while delivering a high-quality product,” David said.

“Our manufacturing capabilities from our facilities in China mean we can offer Australian-standard equipment without the premium that comes with other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

“China has the lowest hardware costs on the market, and the quality has come along in leaps and bounds over the past few years to the point where it’s more than up to scratch for the Australian mining industry.”

By offering greater value for customers and a lower entry price, XCMG is aiming to set a new standard of efficiency and sustainability in the Australian mining sector.

“Our equipment is new age, based on the latest developments in autonomous technology,” David said. “For example, autonomous XCMG equipment is being developed with the latest green energy technology as we speak, whereas many other OEMs are having to retrofit that technology into their machinery.

“Being on the cutting-edge allows us to give more reliability and functionality to our customers.”

XCMG’s fully autonomous roller with remote operator station.
Image: XCMG

Autonomy is not just a technological advancement for XCMG; it’s a key enabler for the green energy revolution.

“The goal is to provide our customers with a total solution for green energy, electrification, and decarbonisation,” David said. “Other OEMs won’t be able to compete with the quality, cost effectiveness, and comprehensiveness of the solutions we’re developing.”

XCMG is aiming to carve out its own space in the mining sector through a series of product launches.

David said the first phase is already in motion, with automation rolled out across XCMG’s heavy rigid dump trucks. The second phase will be focused on loaders, with the XC958EV wheel loader already in automation development.

The third phase will focus on rolling out tele-operational and semi-autonomous dozers and other auxiliary machinery.

XCMG is aiming to take a holistic approach to developing AHS, not just working on solutions for the mining industry but for the broader construction industry.

David said this approach allows the company to draw on knowledge from a range of applications to equip XCMG AHS with the tools to rise to any challenge.

“We’re undertaking detailed gap analyses to line up where our solutions are with where we want them to be,” he said. “From there, we can tailor a roadmap which will see our equipment come embedded with another level of support and an engineering framework to continually meet customer demands.

“It’s an ambitious plan, but we’re determined to position ourselves in the mining sector as a low-cost, reliable supplier with 21st century engineering platforms.”

For XCMG, it all comes back to the customer. In developing its autonomous solutions, David said XCMG customers are the first port of call when determining what the demands of the market currently are, and where they are likely to be heading into the future.

XCMG’s 968EV Battery-Electric fully autonomous wheel loader.
Image: XCMG

“I’ll be seeking market feedback from different customers on what they need out of AHS in order to continually develop the product,” he said. “We’re currently setting up a facility in Perth where we can simultaneously support customers and conduct research and development for our solutions.”

During a recent visit to a customer in Mongolia, David saw first-hand the possibilities AHS can bring to an operation.

“This particular customer is looking to expand quite dramatically over the next 12 months,” David said. “At first, they weren’t sold on the trucks when they first arrived, but after seeing the benefits in safety and productivity they’re willing to go all in.

“Now that it’s clear the significant benefits our AHS can bring to the Chinese market, we’re confident the Australian mining industry will be able to reap the same rewards.”

XCMG’s commitment to advancing AHS in Australian mines signifies a bold step towards a future where innovation and sustainability go hand in hand.

By moving at the speed necessary to meet the world’s obligations for a greener future, XCMG is paving the way for a more efficient and environmentally conscious mining industry.

“XCMG is at the forefront of developing the latest AHS innovations, and we’re determined to bring those solutions to the Australian market,” David said.

“I’m committed to growing the AHS team for years to come and setting up our customers with the value and quality they can only get with XCMG.”

This feature appeared in the June 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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