Report 2 – Autonomous Mining Equipment
RFC Ambrian has released the second report in its series on new technology and innovation. This report examines one of the most talked about areas of new technology and innovation in the mining sector, the development of autonomous mining equipment. Which has reached an important level of maturity, including both surface and underground equipment, and most notably surface mine haulage trucks which has been an area of significant focus for major mining companies.
Autonomous haulage systems: The report looks closely at the current implementation of Autonomous Haulage Systems (AHS) and examines how autonomy in surface mines has developed over the past ten years, the companies involved, how successful it has been, and where there are still issues.
Cost benefits of AHS: The report also looks at reported improvements in productivity given by the mining companies and OEMs as well as third party reports of calculated benefits. It also explores the potential additional benefits that could be achieved from introducing AHS at a new surface mine.
Other surface mining equipment: We are also now seeing the same technology as is used in AHS being used to automate other equipment in the surface mine. This includes drill rigs, dozers, loaders and ancillary equipment, although much of this equipment is currently, at best, only semi-autonomous.
Underground mining equipment: As with surface mining, full autonomy remains the goal of the underground miner in order to increase the productivity of the equipment and improve the safety of the operators. However, full autonomy in the underground mine is less advanced than in the surface mine but continues to develop, particularly with improved communication networks being installed and new equipment being launched by the OEMs.
Pace of implementation: Despite the reported success and potentially significant benefits of autonomy, particularly AHS, the further roll out across the industry is happening slower than might have been expected. This is surprising given that the technology has reached a relatively mature level and that there is interest right across the industry. The report looks at some of the issues behind this and gives views as to why this might be the case.
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