After having implemented autonomous drills, Glencore’s (LON: GLEN) Lomas Lab introduced a full set of autonomous haul trucks at the Lomas Bayas copper mine, located in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile.
Lomas Bayas is a low-grade, open-pit operation where oxidized minerals are extracted and processed in a solvent-leaching and electrowinning plant. Its average annual production is 72,700 tonnes of high-purity copper cathodes.
The mine has become a testing ground for Glecore’s next-gen machinery, aimed at fostering what the company calls “mining 4.0,” which is powered by digital and autonomous technologies.
The four trucks being initially deployed are Komatsu 930E-5, which use the FrontRunner system that allows for autonomous day and night operation in a radius of approximately 1 kilometre. For the first few months, they will bustle in an area separate from the main pit.
The Lomas Bayas trucks are the first of their kind in Glencore’s global operations. They are expected to decrease fuel consumption by up to 4%, run for longer hours and decrease the frequency of safety incidents, as operators will be relocated to secure shelters while the trucks’ sensors can detect potential hazards.
If this pilot succeeds, Glencore plans to make the entire Lomas Bayas 27-truck fleet autonomous by 2025. The miner also plans to introduce autonomous trolley trucks by developing a power supply via trolley assist, a move that also backs its decarbonization goals.
Once these systems have proven safe and efficient at Lomas Bayas, the Swiss mining and commodities trader expects to deploy them at other sites worldwide.