Boliden is investing US$25 million to retrofit automation technology to 11 Komatsu haul trucks at its low-grade Aitik copper-gold mine in Sweden’s north. The Komatsu Frontrunner autonomous haulage system is expected to be operational at Aitik in 2024.
Boliden bought and introduced the first Komatsu electric-drive mine trucks in Europe last year – deploying fleets at its Kevitsa and Aitik mines – after earlier putting Caterpillar trucks on an electric trolley-assist system at Aitik to boost speed and cut diesel emissions on the ramp climb from the circa-450m-deep main pit.
The miner has also worked with local manufacturer Epiroc to automate surface production drills at Aitik and recently announced a project involving Epiroc and ABB to develop an electric trolley truck system for “fossil-free underground mining”.
Boliden is aiming to feed 45 million tonnes of ore grading 0.21% copper and 0.11 grams per tonne gold into the Aitik mill in 2021, up from the 41-42Mt achieved in the past couple of years. Sweden’s largest openpit mine, which commenced operation in the late 1960s, had reserves of more than 1350Mt grading an average 0.22% copper, 0.15gpt gold and 1.2gpt silver at the end of 2020.
Boliden says C1 costs for Aitik have come down from about US$1/lb 10 years ago to below 50c/lb now.
The mine generated an operating profit of SEK2296m last year.
“Haul truck automation in Aitik is securing that the mine will stay in the position as the world’s most productive copper mine, while continuing to deliver copper with industry-leading climate performance,” Boliden mining president Stefan Romedahl said.
The company is aiming to cut its business “CO2 intensity” (0.61 in 2020) by 40% by 2030.