• Safety first

    Safety first

    An underground diamond mine in Limpopo, South Africa, is starting to pilot automated processes ahead of the mine’s commissioning in 2023.

    De Beers’ US$2 billion Venetia Underground Mine (VUM), which will extend the lifespan of the old open-cast mine by almost 30 years, is expected to become one of the most automated and mechanised mines in the world, with a number of remote processes to come on line by 2027.

    ‘At the VUG we will eventually have a number of mining systems operational, with a variety of machines […] executing multiple mining processes within the same operational area. These systems will be deployed and operating simultaneously during a shift on different levels of the mine,’ says Freddie Breed, De Beers underground technical services.

    According to Mining Review, the pilot project involves preparing production staff to use autonomous loading and remote tramming processes that will ensure operators’ safety in dangerous conditions.

    Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is installing the AutoMine system for the remote operation of loaders and trucks and the OptiMine system for machine health monitoring, task management and location tracking.

    An integrated operations centre is also under construction on the surface at the mine.

    14 March 2023
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images