Publications / 2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada

Remote and Semi-Automated Operation of an Electric Cable Shovel

Garston H. Blackwell
Pages 1526-1541 (2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada, ISBN 978-1-62993-294-1, ISSN 2413-5844)

For ageing open pit mining operations where the economic viability of another pushback is questionable, mine life can be extended by increasing the wall slope. If the steepening is started where ore intersects the pit wall, the capital outlay for waste stripping is minimal. Such a venture must be conducted safely, and a basic requirement would include loading equipment capable of working remotely.

In the application described, alternatives in the choice of loader included equipment available on site, or the purchase and assembly of used equipment. Only electric cable shovels were in use at the operation, and it was thought that these would be more capable of digging high muck piles at the productivity demanded by an increasingly efficient mill, and in a challenging environment less suited to a rubber tired loader or hydraulic front shovel. A decision was made to convert an older electric cable shovel to remote controlled operation and to include the application of semi-robotic control.

The conversion was completed successfully and is described, along with methods developed for remote operation of a shovel, and the application of various sensors for semi-robotic operation. A plan of operations to mine out several completed double benches and make two quadruple benches with wide catchment berms is depicted. On completion of this task, the working benches developed would be wide enough to operate at near full production.

Prior to moving the remote controlled shovel back into the pit, a large wall instability became active, eventually closing the operation. The instability could have been safely mined using the remote controlled shovel.

Keywords: cable shovel, remote control, sensors (rotation/crowd/hoist/propel), safety