Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations has achieved a world first in mobile equipment interoperability by integrating a remote-operated MacLean water cannon into its Epiroc automation fleet at Cadia East.

Cadia’s Mining Innovation & Automation team worked with Epiroc and MacLean to integrate a MacLean water cannon capable of localization with Epiroc’s traffic management system and safety hardware, so it could be introduced into the automation safety system.

Water cannons are used for secondary breaking operations, using high pressure water to release rocks wedged in drawpoints.

By integrating the MacLean IQ Series teleoperation system with Cadia’s automation safety system, the water cannon could be safely operated from the surface in a teleremote capacity, allowing it to work alongside Cadia’s semi-automated loaders, according to the company.

The water cannon was trialed and commissioned during July and August and is now in use at Cadia East.

Cadia General Manager, Aaron Brannigan said that integrating the water cannon into Cadia’s automation system has improved the efficiency of the production level and removed human exposure from drawpoints. “We are constantly pushing the envelope of change in the innovation and technology space,” he said. “Automated machinery allows for shift in technical capabilities of our workforce, while ensuring we continue to eliminate safety risks from our operation.”

In 2018, Cadia commenced a loader automation trial with mining equipment manufacturer, Epiroc, with the aim of removing operators from the Cadia East underground environment, while maintaining productivity and performance. The loader trial proved successful and the next phase involved integrating non-Epiroc machinery into the existing automation fleet.

The success of this milestone paves the way for further integration of other key pieces of secondary break equipment into the automation system, the company said.