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Using advanced autonomous technology to keep our employees safe

Author: Glencore | Date: 10/04/2019

Jim Lundrigan, a Mine Superintendent at our Nickel Rim South operations in Canada – part of our Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations – has witnessed a great deal of change in the mining industry over the last couple of years. New autonomous technology ensures that miners can increasingly sit safely and comfortably above ground and work away from the physical risks presented by operating underground in the mine. 
 

At Glencore, we have a long history of sharing expertise and promoting best practice across our global network. Some of our other sites, such as the Matagami and Kidd mines in Canada, were already using autonomous vehicles and their teams were able to provide Nickel Rim South with insights on the best system to choose. 

Pioneering autonomous vehicle technology

When it comes to health and safety, I won’t accept any standard that puts anybody at risk.

Jim Lundrigan, Mine Superintendent, Nickel Rim South

When we evaluated the benefits of automation for our mobile fleet it quickly became clear that it could mitigate the most pertinent injury risks. For example, a typical mucker operating one of our load haul dump machines (LHDs) would have to get on and off the truck up to 100 times every shift increasing their risk of injury. Automation eliminates this risk entirely. 

The technology in place at Nickel Rim South includes a barrier system underground, onboard camera and control system, and finally the operator station. There is a cable and a laser barrier in place which shuts the system down should it go out of control or if someone crosses the line. Our employees also receive rigorous training on when best to use the machine and how to get the most out of its different functions.  
 

It’s a lot safer to work autonomously. Temperatures underground get pretty warm so being able to work from the surface takes you away from the heat and dust.

Kevin Le Blanc, Miner, Nickel Rim South

Kevin Le Blanc who works at Nickel Rim South has felt first hand the benefits of this technology. He was born and raised in Sudbury and comes from a family of miners, so is well versed in the importance of proactive health and safety measures. Safety is a top priority at Glencore and through shared knowledge and strong leadership we will continue to work on fostering this internal safety culture to ensure the long-term wellbeing of all our employees.