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OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena project. Image: OZ Minerals

Epiroc has led the establishment of a carbon-neutral sustainable mining initiative to enable more efficient operations.

The three-year project, named NEXGEN SIMS (Next Generation Carbon Neutral Pilots for Smart Intelligent Mining Systems), is a European-Union-funded collaboration that is also supported by Australian-based mining company OZ Minerals.

NEXGEN SIMS started May 1, 2021 and will run until April 30, 2024 with a total budget of €16 million ($24.7 million).

Epiroc stated the project will support technologies, methods and processes that unlock sustainable mining.

This includes autonomous carbon-neutral mining processes through the use of battery-electric mining equipment, 5G implementation, autonomous material handling, AI-powered fleet control, and machine collaboration.

Epiroc will use its Scooptram ST14 battery loader and Minetruck MT42 battery hauler for the project.

According to Epiroc, NEXGEN SIMS will also focus on developing mine workers for the future to boost safety through autonomous mine inspection technology development.

“Collaboration and partnership among stakeholders that have different areas of expertise is increasingly important to successfully advance complex digital and automated systems that will improve the mining industry’s environmental impact, work environment and productivity,” Epiroc president and chief executive officer Helena Hedblom said.

“We are proud to be part of and to lead the NEXGEN SIMS project, which will play a crucial role in this positive development.”

Other project partners include Boliden, Agnico Eagle Finland, KGHM Polska, Ericsson, Mobilaris MCE, AFRY, KGHM Cuprum, Luleå University of Technology and RWTH Aachen University.

In March, Epiroc and OZ Minerals joined the Electric Mine Consortium to accelerate mine electrification.

According to a survey from the Consortium’s founder, State of Play, 89 per cent of respondents expect mine sites to electrify within the next 20 years.