This article was first published in Australian Mining.

Newcrest Mining has achieved a world-first in mobile equipment interoperability at its Cadia Valley gold operations in New South Wales, Australia.

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia gold mine in New South Wales, Australia. Image credit: Newcrest Mining

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia gold mine in New South Wales, Australia. Image credit: Newcrest Mining

This impressive feat was achieved by integrating a remote operated MacLean water cannon into Newcrest’s Epiroc automation fleet at the Cadia East mine.

The MacLean water cannon can be localised with Epiroc’s traffic management system and safety hardware, allowing for a smooth integration into the automation safety system.

Water cannons are normally used for secondary break operations, using high-pressure water to release wedged rocks in underground drawpoints. As a result of integrating the MacLean IQ series teleoperation system with Cadia’s automation safety system, the water cannon can be safely operated from the surface in a teleremote capacity, allowing it to work alongside Cadia’s semi-automated loaders.

Now in use at Cadia East, Newcrest general manager Aaron Brannigan says that the integration had improved the efficiency of the mine’s production level and removed human exposure from drawpoints.

“We are constantly pushing the envelope of change in the innovation and technology space. Automated machinery allows for a shift in technical capabilities of our workforce while ensuring we continue to eliminate safety risks from our operation,” says Brannigan.

The project is part of Newcrest’s ongoing drive to increase its automation and inaction on site. Newcrest started a loader automation trial with Epiroc at Cadia in 2018, aiming to remove operators from the Cadia East underground environment, while maintaining productivity and performance.

Epiroc outlined that the loader trial was successful, with the next phase involving the integration of non-Epiroc machinery into the exisiting automation fleet.