An RCT automation center on the surface at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bathopele mine provides a much improved ergonomic environment for machine operators.

Australia-based machine control specialist Remote Control Technologies (RCT) reported that it has recently completed installation of autonomous control systems for underground mines in Africa and Australia.

RCT, in cooperation with a South African OEM, installed its ControlMaster Automation system on a battery-electric loader and an automation center in an office on the surface at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bathopele mine, a mature, trackless mechanized South African platinum operation that works the UG2 horizon exclusively using low-profile and extra-low-profile equipment suites.

The ControlMaster system in combination with the surface automation center eliminates any need for operators to be in potentially hazardous mining working conditions and allows them to use cutting-edge technology to load ore at the mine, according to the company,

RCT also said its Connect specialized underground communications network was implemented to further enhance autonomous operations and improve overall connectivity at the mine, an integral requirement at the remote site.

RCT’s ControlMaster Product Manager Paul Taylor said, “The equipment is designed to be simple to set up, allowing the work area to expand and move as required without needing an RCT presence on site to do so. In addition to this, we set up support chat groups with the team on site giving them direct contact with the RCT technician workforce. This was paired with a VPN connection to the site so we can dial in and assist with any questions that they have.”

In Australia, a gold mine in Victoria now running ControlMaster has been able to achieve major productivity improvements, according to the company, noting that its technology enables site personnel to control the entire fleet from automation centers on the mine’s surface and allows for rapid cross-shift changes. With RCT’s digital automation system, machine operators can supervise seven Cat R2900 underground production loaders from the surface.

RCT said its ControlMaster Multiple Machine Control (MMC) feature enables an operator to switch between production loaders during auto tramming and supervise specific elements in the load-haul-dump cycle.

In October, Epiroc announced that it would acquire RCT.