Equipment operators at PT-FI’s underground operations, using RCT’s ControlMaster teleremote system, can switch control from one type of machine to another as operations dictate.

PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI) has rolled out a fully autonomous fleet of mobile rockbreakers at its West Papuan mine in partnership with smart technology specialist RCT.

PT-FI’s corporate policies mandating safer mining practices include removing personnel from certain areas of the Grasberg Block Cave (GBC) and Deep Mill Level Zone (DMLZ), which are prone to wet muck rushes. To carry out this mandate, PT-FI engaged RCT to implement its ControlMaster Guidance across the rockbreaker fleet, marking the first time the product has integrated with mobile rockbreakers.

The project is just one element of PT-FI’s broader program for RCT to automate the mine’s diverse underground ancillary fleet, which includes the mobile rockbreakers, Getman water cannons and Cat cleanup LHD machines.

In line with PT-FI’s overall mine development plan, the fully autonomous ancillary fleet will operate in a designated Autonomous Mining Area (AMA) within GBC and DMLZ. Going forward, machine operators will manage the ancillary fleet via automation centers located within a Remote Operations Room (ROR) on the mine’s surface.

By utilizing Multi Fleet Select (MFS) capability, operators can switch control of the mobile rockbreakers, water vehicles or cleanup loaders in line with changing fleet requirements at short
notice. Working from the ROR safeguards machine operators from hazards found at the mine face and enables “hot-seating.”

RCT Account Manager Shane Smith said the technology significantly optimizes mobile rockbreaker fleet operations in addition to safeguarding the machine operators. “The mobile rockbreakers are utilized in the extraction level draw points to clear larger rocks. However, these draw points are prone to wet muck rushes, which represented a significant safety hazard to site personnel,” Smith said.

“Initially, we commissioned the rockbreakers with our ControlMaster Teleremote solution, which allowed machine operators to directly manage the machine from the ROR. ControlMaster Guidance enables independent fleet operations including faster tramming and consistent machine operations and prevents the machine from impacting against the walls of very narrow draw points.

“This solution reduces unplanned
machine maintenance downtime while consistent machine operations allow for better planning and forecasting activities,” he noted.