Six Sandvik LH517i’s are being introduced at George Fisher Mine in Mount Isa as part of an automation project.
The Glencore-owned mine welcomed the first three new underground loaders in June, according to the company’s Resourceful news bulletin.
The company says the transformative automation project is designed to improve safety, and increase efficiency and productivity.
Principal project engineer − automation, Nick Fryer, said all six Sandvik LH517i’s would come online over the next eight months, replacing existing units as they reached their end of life.
“Three loaders have been introduced this year and a further three Sandvik loaders will be added to the fleet next year,” he said.
This project follows, and builds on, other automation technology involving loaders that has operated at the mine for some time.
“Before now we’ve used a tele-remote/co-pilot hybrid system with operators based predominately underground (with some on the surface) actively controlling the machines to muck material from our open stopes,” Mr Fryer said.
The new AutoMine Multi-Lite system means moving towards greater automation, with operating personnel based on the surface and only required to muck a bucket and then rely on the system to tram, tip and return ready for another bucket.
It also simplifies the technology set-up and relies on a single server and network, while incorporating real-time integrated machine diagnostics.
Mr Fryer said the team at George Fisher Mine was looking forward to seeing what gains in productivity and efficiency the AutoMine system would bring to their operations.
“The response from the first round of operators trained has been extremely encouraging and in a trial earlier this year, we saw a significant increase in the hours our machines could operate in full automation,” he said.
“With careful planning and scheduling we saw a 40 per cent increase in productivity in some of our mining areas and we hope to emulate this more consistently with the new system over the next six months.”