Chilean mining company Enaex Group launched the first versions of its RoboMiner and Mine-iTruck, developed to protect human employees of the mining industry.
“These projects were specially created to continue enhancing the mining operation and its resources, but taking care of our greatest value, which are the people,” Enaex CEO Juan Andrés Errázuriz said in a press release. “In that line, these solutions will allow [us] to make available resources that today are unprofitable, in a safe way and with the highest technology.”
The RoboMiner is a remotely operated robot that can monitor temperatures, measure topography and record using 3D vision. The company hopes to expand its capabilities come 2018 to include manipulating objects. The Mine-iTruck is a factory truck that, when controlled by a person, can manufacture explosives and maneuver within an open mine pit.
The machines were developed in cooperation with the Stanford Research Institute, ASI Robots, Thecne and SK Godelius.
Mining companies have for decades been challenged to find solutions to exploring treacherous and difficult-to-access locations without risking workers’ lives and health. This challenge is highlighted by the 2010 Chilean mining accident when 33 miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground after a mine collapsed.
Technologies like these could help mining companies move their workers away from such high-risk zones with restricted access to areas with higher safety and operating standards.
“Today we strive to make mining an integral development platform that combines productivity, innovation, sensitivity to the environment and greater inclusion. This, with the participation of the private sector, academia, trade associations and research centers, among other actors,” deputy minister of mining Erich Schnake said in the statement. “Innovation is necessary to renew production processes, make them more efficient and safe for our workers, lower costs and thus be more productive.”