Robotics in mining: These are the machines that deliver safety and enhance the work

Robotics in mining: These are the machines that deliver safety and enhance the work

24 July 2021

Thanks to the implementation of robotics, Escondida | BHP was able to reduce work time by 30%, in which, at a speed of two meters per second, it can perform a nut change automatically and without the risk of accidents.

Robots are here to stay. We have seen them serving restaurants in Japan and exploring Mars, but now they are the new companions of the mining industry in Chile.

Escondida | BHP is testing this technology to optimize the maintenance of the mining mills, which for a worker to change the liner plates and nuts manually takes about 72 hours, and robotics managed to reduce the time by 30%.

Thanks to its precision and safety, the work performed by the robot at a speed of two meters per second does not present any risk of accidents in the ball mills of Escondida’s Laguna Seca concentrator.

Robots have been in mining for a long time. The aim is to keep operators away from dangerous tasks and adverse environments. The company MIRS, who in 2005 began to develop this technology, of which one will be able to perform tasks that involve greater risks, such as handling tools or heavy plates, or even getting close to fire.

Likewise, MIRS Development Manager, Luis Baeza, explained that the objective is to create a flushed body capable of making its own decisions, “we joined our mining knowledge with robotics to cover a need”.

A study conducted by Randstad showed that 55% of Chilean workers believe that due to the implementation of automation, job offers will decrease. However, its application responds to the risky tasks that humans are exposed to in order to reduce future accidents.

“This whole issue of automation helps us, it is the empowerment of our people (…) Each plate weighs between 80 and 100 kg, it is a difficult weight to handle. In this case, the interaction of our people with this potential risk is zero,” explained Eduardo Romo, BHP’s Electrowinning production supervisor.