Lomas Bayas begins autonomous operations

Glencore has announced that, through Lomas Lab, it is seeking to become a world leader in the development of technologies associated with Mining 4.0, centered from its Minera Lomas Bayas copper operation in Sierra Gorda within the Antofagasta region.

After its launch on the 25th anniversary, Minera Lomas Bayas has continued to develop the Lomas Lab, the technology creation initiative that seeks to design, test and consolidate the digitalization and automation of production processes in the operation, to then be exported to other Glencore operations worldwide.

From that time, one of the most emblematic projects of the innovation center was launched: autonomous extraction trucks (CAEX), a major step toward sustainability for the company, which seeks to position itself as a leader in its segment.

Glencore said attendees at the event were able to learn in detail about the remote operation of these modern trucks, thanks to a guided tour of the place where the vehicles operate, which have the highest standards of safety and maneuverability, since they are led by qualified and trained personnel to face the new challenges of Mining 4.0.

For Lomas Bayas, this is a concrete step toward sustainable development, joining the drills that already operate autonomously, which protects people and also the environment.

“From Lomas Bayas we are promoting mining. We can’t compete on the grade of the ore, but we can compete on the way we do things, efficiently and with the help of technology. This process took us half the time it takes the rest of the industry, and that’s no coincidence. This is the result of clear work, a very effective team bond and a way of doing things that we hope will set us apart,” said Pablo Carvallo, general manager, Lomas Bayas.

Autonomous truck operations equate to a potential 4% decrease in fuel consumption, and a lower frequency of safety events due to a high number of sensors in the equipment and relocation of personnel to safer areas. In addition, longer hours of operation are achieved through improved truck fleet utilization and availability.

“Our first autonomous trucks are already operating in the region, which means the culmination of the first stage of this great project, which we have decided – as the copper department and as a corporation – to then scale up to the whole of Glencore, so that other sites have the benefit of what is being tested here today,” said Abraham Chahuán, director, Copper Assets South America.

Glencore said the project calls for the entry into operation with a pilot of four Komatsu 930E-5 extraction trucks, which, through Komatsu’s FrontRunner autonomous system, will operate autonomously in an area segregated from the rest of the conventional operation.

“We are a school of learning and technological development, which positions us as exporters of technologies, methods and models from the driest desert in the world to many other places on the planet,” noted Regional Technology Manager Enrique Caballero. 

If the project is successful in its testing stage, it will begin its gradual ramp-up of autonomous trucks until the entire fleet of 27 units is completed by 2025.

Source: Glencore

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