Swedish engineering company Sandvik will provide its automation and digitalisation solutions, AutoMine and OptiMine, to Chilean state-owned company Codelco for implementation at the Chuquicamata underground copper mine.

Codelco, which controls nearly 19% of the world’s copper reserves, is implementing a 10-year project to prolong its existing operations, with work expected to begin this year.

Under the project, Codelco is converting the open cast Chuquicamata mine to an underground mine and hopes that the Sandvik technology will make Chuquicamata one of the most efficient and advanced underground mines in the world.

The Swedish company will deliver a production automation system based on the AutoMine and OptiMine products that will allow Codelco to fully automate its new fleet of Sandvik LH621 loaders.

The systems combine manual operations and autonomous equipment, giving workers real-time control over production and mine development.

Chuquicamata underground operations manager Andrés Avendaño said: “Using our mines to full effect is part of our focus on sustainability and a key driver for our business.

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“Automation and optimisation are critical to getting the most from our mines and keeping our people safe while we do it.”

“Automation and optimisation are critical to getting the most from our mines and keeping our people safe while we do it.”

Sandvik installed the first AutoMine loading system at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine in 2004.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology automation vice-president Riku Pulli said: “Codelco has been an important partner for us from the beginning. It’s fantastic to continue the partnership as our visions are well aligned. We look forward to working with Codelco to deliver even smarter, safer, more productive mining through digitalisation.”

While AutoMine deals with all aspects of automation, including remote and autonomous operation, multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities, the OptiMine suite of digital tools helps analyse and optimise mining production and processes.