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Codelco is converting Radomiro Tomic mine to an automated drilling operation as part of a 3-year strategic project and the conversions of the first six drills are expected to start in early 2022.

For the project, US owned engineering company FLANDERS is expected to deliver an automation system based on its ARDVARC Drill Control System.

The system enables Codelco to operate three EPIROC Pit Viper 351 electric drills in full automation mode and three SmartRoc drills in a semi-autonomous tele-remote operation.

FLANDERS’ ARDVARC product suite is designed to facilitate customers to scale up automation at their own pace and covers all aspects of drill automation, from semi- autonomous to tele-remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using Command Center control capabilities.

ARDVARC Autonomous comprises a suite of tools for automating, analysing and optimizing drilling production and processes.

The autonomous drill system will integrate into the existing fleet management systems at the Radomiro Tomic site, and all drill data will be provided to Codelco for their own interpretation and use in downstream processes.

Lindor Quiroga, Managing Director of Codelco’s R. Tomic mine, said, “we need to explore the automation of our mining equipment to continue our evolution, challenging our technical limits and eliminating the exposure of our personnel to health and safety risks. Our team members are in the process of adapting to these new times, acquiring technological competences based on a solid training program. By doing so we will not only have a healthier and safer work environment but also lower production costs due to higher throughputs”.

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 approximately 1.73 million metric tons produced in 2020.

FLANDERS regional director Martin Schäfer said: “Codelco is a strategically important partner for us. It’s fantastic to be able to work together on this project as our visions are perfectly aligned. Our aim is to deliver even smarter, safer, more productive mining through automation, and not only for its Radomiro Tomic mine but to those still to follow this path.”