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The Cadia gold operations in New South Wales.

Newcrest has credited Epiroc for its help converting Panel Cave 1 at the Cadia East gold mine in News South Wales into a semi-autonomous integrated production level.

Several successful stages led to the completion of the ST18 automated loader project, as Newcrest looks to automate more of its Cadia operations.

Cadia general manager Aaron Brannigan said Epiroc had been pivotal in supporting his workforce through the transformation.

“Innovation and technology is the way of the future and the mining industry is no exception,” Brannigan said.

“We see automation as the future of our Cadia East underground mine and through our industry partnership with Epiroc, we are already achieving milestones that will support this aspiration.”

Epiroc regional application centre manager Rohan Anderson said safety and productivity were at the heart of this project for Newcrest and Epiroc.

“The autonomous system is now capable of full 24/7 production across seven drives of a whole panel cave,” Anderson said.

“This now meets a key objective of Cadia’s by reducing major hazard exposure rates of manual operators on the production level and an objective of Epiroc’s of having a fully developed autonomous system.”

While many global operations have achieved the feat of semi-autonomous production, Epiroc also enabled autonomous support equipment too.

“Following the success of the phase, the team are now planning business as usual operation and support of the system, and further expansions to other parts of the mine, integration of additional third-party equipment and further development of the system,” Anderson added.

The autonomous equipment will help in performing early works to expand Panel Cave 1-2 which were scheduled for the December quarter of 2021.

The $120 million early works should put Newcrest on a path to add around 258 million tonnes of ore to the Cadia resource, containing around 3.5 million ounces of gold and 660,000 tonnes of copper.

Main works on the expansion will be expected in the second half of 2022.