The CSIRO is developing state of the robotic systems that will assist in strenuous and hazardous tasks within the mining industry, primarily excavation and material handling.
Field robotics have been increasingly used on site to either assist or replace humans performing tasks that are considered difficult and repetitive or located in hazardous environments.
The CISRO has been creating robotic systems that will bring many working benefits such as improving human safety, increasing equipment utilisation, reduce maintenance costs and increase production. Successful field robotics will enable mining operations to proceed in remote and harsh environments and will allow surface and underground mining to be carried out more efficiently and safely.
The CSIRO are currently running several mining robotic projects as part of their Minerals Down Under Flagship program. All research is focused on developing robust and reliable systems that can withstand the harsh and complex environments and continuous operations for long periods of time. The CSIRO mining robotic projects include:
In collaboration with colleagues from the ICT Centre, Division of Exploration and Mining and researchers from the Autonomous Systems Laboratory, the Rockbreaker is a project dedicated in developing technologies that will enable effective and safe telerobotic control of mining equipment from distances of thousands of kilometres away. The Rockbreaker machine has been proven at Rio Tinto’s West Angeles iron ore mine, which was controlled by an operator over 1,000km away in Perth.
Shovel Loading Automation
CSIRO is working with the Cooperative Research Centre for Mining to develop an automated swing loading technology for electric mining shovels. Dragline Automation QCAT’s Mining Automation team has been developing high-technology systems to assist dragline operators and mine planners. They have demonstrated their research with their cruise control and Digital Terrain Mapping (DTM) technologies on a scale model dragline in Brisbane, which allowed the machine to be operated by a team member in the USA.
Load Haul Dump (LHD) Automation
The roof tunnel in open stope areas is usually unstable, which presents a number of safety issues and hazards in mining operations. The LHD is a mid sized underground mining vehicle that loads, hauls and dumps metaliferous ore from the open stope to a crusher or a waiting truck that transports the materials to the surface. The aim for CSIRO is to automate the haulage and dumping cycle for an LHD.
The Excavator Guidance project aims to develop and demonstrate a system that is able to simultaneously track the bucket of a mining excavator and map the terrain under the boom. Trials at the Blair Athol mine in central Queensland demonstrated that the Excavator Guidance was able to generate dynamic Digital Terrain Maps (DTM) while tracking the location of the bucket teeth within 10cm.
Automation of Blast Hole Charging
This project involved creating an automated charging process in underground mining, which involves placing primer and detonators into holes drilled into the roof and walls of development drives and filling them with liquid explosives. CSIRO’s role is to develop a hydraulic arm that is able to insert the emulsion horse into the pre-drilled holes.
For more information on CSIRO’s projects and developments in mining robotics, visit their website.