Miners are adopting automation cautiously, incrementally. Nevertheless, full site automation appears enticingly within the industry’s reach. Rio Tinto launched its Mine of the Future initiative in 2008, and by 2014 the company had hauled 200 million tons with a fleet of autonomous mining vehicles in Australia’s remote, mineral-rich Pilbara region. The company operates remote control excavators, dozers, and tele-remote blast hole drills to work on unstable terrain at its Bingham Canyon copper mine in Kennecott, Utah, near Salt Lake City. In 2019, the world’s first fully automated mine began production at Resolute Mining’s Syama underground gold mine in Mali.
Between 2006 and 2016, German component manufacturer Elektro-Elektronik Pranjic deployed more than 60 sets of advanced automatic hydraulic control components for underground coal mining at the Tang Shan Gou mine operated by the China National Coal Group Corp. Market research firm Mordor Intelligence forecasts the automated mining equipment market will grow by 35.38 percent from 2021 to 2026.
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