Sumitomo Metal Mining has deployed the AutoMine automated loading technology from Sandvik at its Hishikari underground gold mine in Japan.

The AutoMine automation system is designed to boost productivity and operational transparency, offer better cost control and improve safety.

Located in northern Kagoshima Prefecture, the Hishikari mine is estimated to hold a high grade of around 20 grams of gold per ton of ore.

Having been in the production phase since 1985, Hishikari is claimed to be the country’s only gold mine operating on a commercial scale.

Sumitomo has deployed the AutoMine Lite system on a Toro LH307 underground loader to operate in its small cross-section tunnels at the Hishikari mine.

Hishikari Mine mining section manager Hidenobu Yabu said: “Our goal is to become a corporate enterprise that produces resources with advanced technology by 2030.

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“By implementing advanced technology and innovation, we aim to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve safety. Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our long-term focus on the Hishikari mine.”

With the new technology, Sumitomo intends to speed up underground efficiency as well as enhance productivity and safety.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Southeast Asia sales area business line manager automation Jan-Douwe Wansink said: “AutoMine provides a safe, controlled environment that boosts productivity and profitability while helping to protect operators and other mine personnel in underground operations. This is an exciting opportunity for the Hishikari Mine and Sandvik.”