Fibre-optic project could raise mine output 10%

A $400,000 project to install fibre-optic cable at Oceana Gold's Frasers underground mine at Macraes could improve productivity from the mine by up to 10%.

Loaders were operated in the mine to load blasted ore into trucks, which then hauled it to the surface.

The loaders were equipped with cameras front and back and, at the moment, were operated remotely from a nearby cubicle underground, the operator viewing a camera screen and piloting the loaders using two joysticks.

Operations ceased during changes from one shift to the next, Bernie O'Leary, general manager of the Macraes operation, said.

But using "cutting-edge" technology, the mine was establishing a fibre-optic network from the underground mining areas to the surface, which would enable an operator to operate the loaders from a place "far removed" from the mine.

A crew of operators would continue to mine remotely from the surface when the workforce was removed from the mine for blasting and the changeover to the next shift.

The project to install the cable and start remote operations was expected to take about three months. Some of the larger underground mines were using the technology already, Mr O'Leary said.


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