Codelco is converting Chuquicamata mine from open cast to an underground mine as part of a 10-year strategic project and the conversion operations are expected to start in 2019.

For the project, Swedish engineering company Sandvik is expected to deliver an advanced production automation system based on its AutoMine and OptiMine products.

The system enables Codelco to operate new fleet of Sandvik LH621 loaders in full automation and the open system integrates manual operations and autonomous equipment into one solution with AutoMine and OptiMine.

Sandvik’s AutoMine product family is designed to facilitate customers to scale up automation at their own pace and covers all aspects of automation, from remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using automatic mission and traffic control capabilities.

OptiMine comprises a suite of digital tools for analyzing and optimizing mining production and processes.

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

In 2004, Sandvik and Codelco started their automation partnership with the first-ever AutoMine Loading system installation at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine.

Codelco is a Chilean state owned copper mining company headquartered in Santiago. It controls nearly 19% of the world’s copper reserves and is the second producer of molybdenum worldwide, with 24,000 tons produced in 2018.

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 digitalization.”