Rockwell wins $50m deal to turn Chile copper mine into tech ‘super cave’
Codelco, the National Copper Corporation of Chile, has handed Rockwell Automation a contract worth $50 million to supply connectivity, automation, and control systems to the Chuquicamata mine in Chile, the world’s largest open pit mine.
The agreement with state-owned Codelco, one of the world’s largest copper producers, is for Rockwell Automation to turn the century-old copper mine into a technologically advanced “super cave” mine that uses a block-caving extraction process.
The renovation will improve asset utilisation and extend the life of the mine by 40 years, at least, said Rockwell Automation.
Cave mining techniques are becoming increasingly popular because they yield high production rates at lower costs. Block caving is a mining method in which blocks of ore are undercut to induce caving, allowing it to break up and be drawn off, pulled by gravity.
The contract covers the engineering, supply, configuration and assembly of four systems that comprise the mine’s control system. These include an integrated operational platform, security system, supervision and control network, predictive maintenance and a general administrative network.
Alejandro Capparelli, president at Rockwell Automation in Latin America, said: “We are pleased that Codelco has selected us for this epic mining project. We are committed to helping our customers bring the connected enterprise to life.
“Our work together will increase mine throughput and lower operating costs. By leveraging Rockwell Automation’s integrated control and information systems, connected services and deep domain expertise, Codelco will extract more value at every stage of their mining operation.”
Rockwell Automation is currently working on the engineering and construction phase, in advance of a project start-up by mid-2019. Annual production is projected to be 320,000 tons of fine copper and 15,000 tons of molybdenum.
It is unclear if Rockwell Automation will leverage its partnership with industrial IoT specialist PTC. Rockwell Automation announced In June it had taken a $1 billion stake in Needham-based industrial software maker PTC as part of a part of a strategic partnership to drive growth for both firms, and enable customers to make good on the “promise of industrial IoT.”
For a look at how data analytics and IoT technology can help in mining, specifically of gold, as well as other industrial sectors and disciplines, check out our 36-page report on smart manufacturing.