Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has been selected by Chilean copper producer Codelco to supply automation solutions for the El Teniente underground copper mine in Chile.

The contract will be delivered in two phases and will run from 2023 through 2027.

Under the initial phase, Sandvik will supply six Toro LH514 autonomous loaders, as well as an AutoMine Fleet system to support up to 13 machines and AutoMine production area hardware for future expansions. The deliveries are scheduled for this year.

Sandvik will also provide equipment maintenance, AutoMine lifecycle services and software licensing for the Recursos Norte operation in the El Teniente mine.

The second phase of the contract covers seven additional Toro LH514 loaders and an expansion for the AutoMine Fleet system. The deliveries are scheduled from 2024 through 2027.

Expected to support Codelco’s aim to automate and digitise its mine, the contract is a continuation of the producer’s multiple automation solutions orders to Sandvik since 2019.

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Upon full implementation of the projects, Codelco will operate more than 40 autonomous Sandvik trucks and loaders at its El Teniente mine.

El Teniente underground mine, mine manager Rodrigo Andrades said: “The Mining Management has already started the automation journey.

“We have a major challenge to transform our operations into a fully autonomous mine in the next few years, and our main goal is to enhance our workers’ quality of life, improve our safety standards and take our productivity processes to the next level.”

Said to be a ‘highly advanced’ automation system, the AutoMine Fleet system is designed to provide advanced traffic control capabilities for underground loaders and trucks that share the same automated production area.

Sandvik’s AutoMine Underground automation system is designed for autonomous and teleremote operation for a wide range of Sandvik’s loaders and trucks.

In November 2022, Codelco initiated trials of Epiroc’s fully electric loader at its El Teniente copper.