Cave 1 conversion to semi-autonomous production is now complete at the Cadia East gold operation in New South Wales, according to mine owner Newcrest and OEM partner Epiroc.

The companies’ Mining Innovation and Automation Team (MIA) brought the Scooptram ST18 automated loader project through several stages, and are moving into full operation as Cadia prepared for automation to take over future operations as standard.

Cadia’s GM Aaron Brannigan said the MIA team is changing how the mine operates; Cadia East is now operating at a semi-autonomous integrated production level, and it has developed technology to integrate automation into all third-party mobile equipment at the level. 

“We see automation as the future of our Cadia East underground mine, and through our industry partnership with Epiroc, we are already achieving milestones that will support this aspiration.  

“The successful integration of a semi-autonomous level with the capability of full autonomy presents significant safety benefits.” 

Epiroc Manager for the Regional Application Centre Rohan Anderson added that the OEM is glad to have completed the latest phase of the Scooptram automated loader project.  

“The autonomous system is now capable of full 24/7 production across seven drives of a whole panel cave. This now meets a key objective of Cadia’s by reducing major hazard exposure rates of manual operators on the production level and an objective of Epiroc’s of having a fully developed autonomous system,” Anderson said. 

cadia newcrestThe partners are now planning forward for further expansions to other parts of the mine, integration of additional third-party equipment and further development of the system.

“Cadia’s innovation journey hasn’t stopped with Panel Cave 1 – it is now leveraging into other areas of the operation, with the hope of continuing to implement innovation and automation across the business,” Epiroc said. 

The Cadia complex is made up of the Cadia East underground panel cave mine and the Ridgeway underground operation, which is currently on care and maintenance.

Cadia produces gold doré from a gravity circuit and gold-rich copper concentrates from a flotation circuit The gold doré is then refined at the Perth Mint and concentrates are piped to a dewatering plant at nearby Blayney and sent by rail to Port Kembla in New South Wales for export.

Progress on the Cadia molybdenum plant is continuing, with commissioning expected during the operator’s 2022 financial year. It is projected to deliver an additional revenue stream in the form of a molybdenum concentrate.

Sources: Epiroc and Newcrest