Clever innovation lights the way for first automated mine

The Syama gold mine in the south of Mali is set to become the first fully automated mine of its kind.

Although it still offered sustainable resources, it was abandoned in 2015 – but will now be revived with the help of Resolute Mining and engineering company the Savik Group.

The problem surrounding Syama mine was safety concerns around deep level mining. Operating more than a kilometre below the surface, guided by lasers and a hybrid solar grid, fully automated trucks will make their way along the ramps to collect ore and return to the surface where it will be crushed, milled and processed. 

This will improve mining efficiency - for example the virtual elimination of ‘smoke hours’ where miners must wait for the dust to settle before they can continue.

“We were looking to maximise the value of our assets and increase efficiency. We looked around at what was happening in the industry and were convinced that automation is the way to go,” said John Wellborn, managing director and CEO of Resolute Mining, at the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba.

What does this mean for South Africa’s costly and dangerous deep level gold mines? The more difficult conditions are better suited for automated mining.

SA’s declining gold sector may just be able to revive itself.

- Chante' Ho Hip

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