BHP said its Spence copper mine in northern Chile inaugurated its first autonomous drill – a milestone that marks the start of implementing different autonomy projects that seek to contribute to safer, more competitive and sustainable operations.
The miner deployed a Epiroc Pit Viper 351 drill rig, operated remotely from the Spence Control Room located about 2 kilometers from the mine pit. Its implementation reduces worker exposure to operational health and safety hazards.
BHP said a total of five autonomous drills will gradually be put into operation with a future plan to make 100% of the drill pool autonomous.
“The first autonomous drill in Spence is the spearhead of a broader program that we are implementing in BHP’s main operations in Chile,” said Pedro Hidalgo, head of Autonomy at Minerals Americas.
“We are not just working on drills, but also on autonomous trucks. We’re very happy to complete this first milestone, which will allow us to make further progress in the Autonomy Program at both Spence as well as Escondida.”