Man-less underground mining

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 97, No. 1080, 2004

J. Paraszczak and S. Planeta

For mining companies facing strong international competition and unfavourable commodities’ prices, automation of underground operations has the potential to increase productivity and help cut costs. However, despite considerable technological progress in this field, there still remain many problems to overcome. Furthermore, successful implementation of automation depends also on numerous operational, organizational, and even human factors. In this context, this paper briefly reviews technological progress with regard to different underground operations. Following that, several issues related to implementation of automated equipment and systems are presented and discussed. Particular emphasis is put on the factors whose importance is often underestimated. Some recommendations in this respect are also given. It is stated that the success of an automation project is a function of many “winning conditions,” which may be created through very thorough planning and preparation. It is also underlined that despite achievements made, a vision of a man-less underground mine is not yet as much a matter of near future as it may seem.
Keywords: Underground mining, Automation, Implementation.