Swedish mining equipment manufacturer Atlas Copco and UK-based mining firm Anglo American are preparing to test a new type of underground mining technology.

The project team aims to develop a new mining technology that would transform the process of extracting ore from underground hard rock mines.

The companies have been cooperating in a research and development partnership focusing on mechanical excavation technology since 2012, and have reached the proof-of-concept testing stage, which is scheduled to begin later this year.

If successful, the technology will be added to Anglo American’s FutureSmart mining approach.

Atlas Copco underground rock excavation division president Scott Barker said: "We are very proud to be Anglo American’s partner in this joint development project and we are excited at the prospect of demonstrating this potential game-changing technology to the mining industry."

"We are looking for a radical transformation of the way we do things and that means taking a fresh approach."

Speaking at the Dassault Conference in Las Vegas last November, Anglo American technology development group head Donovan Waller said: "We are looking for a radical transformation of the way we do things and that means taking a fresh approach.

"Anglo American believes in seeing how technology can benefit entire systems, not just certain just parts of them. We also believe that the benefits to the industry as a whole can only be realised through openness and collaboration."

Anglo American said that the technology would focus on rapid mine development and on making hard rock mining faster and safer.

Atlas Copco’s underground rock excavation division develops, manufactures and markets a range of tunnelling and mining equipment for various underground applications.

Image: Atlas Copco and Anglo American joint project team visit Anglo Platinum mine in South Africa. Photo: courtesy of Atlas Copco.