These are exciting times for mining equipment automation – the latest to enter the fray is iron ore major Ferrexpo which has announced a trial project for automated mining trucks at its Ferrexpo Yeristovo Mine (FYM) in Ukraine, thought to be the first in Europe for non-prototype, large payload trucks and also one of the first in the former CIS.
An initial test on a driverless truck was successfully completed on 21 October 2019. As part of the group’s continued drive to invest in its world class mining operation, Ferrexpo is working with ASI Mining to convert 15 of FYM’s existing haul trucks into autonomous trucks. “The deployment of an autonomous mining fleet will deliver significant safety benefits to our employees, especially with the elimination of accidents due to fatigue. The improved safety benefits will also be complemented by expected improvements in productivity.”
FYM operates both Caterpillar 789C and 793D haul trucks for iron ore and overburden haulage respectively. The truck that has been tested without an operator is a 793D model.
Ferrexpo has also successfully completed the first phase of its autonomy drill rig project, working with Epiroc to remotely operate drill rigs at FYM from the group’s mine control room. In April 2019, an Epiroc Pit Viper 275 was commissioned while a second autonomous drill rig became operational in September. A third rig will be converted in December 2019 with the group’s aim to progressively convert all of the group’s Pit Viper rigs into autonomous drills. The project is expected to improve safety conditions and to increase the efficiency of drilling operations. It is anticipated that one operator will be able to manage three drills once the project is completed.