Swedish engineering company Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has launched a new technology centre in Zimbabwe to take advantage of local miners’ push for automation to manage rising costs.
The centre, based in Harare, has already signed up companies with hard-rock mines to use digital systems in monitoring production.
“Our starting point was an Optimine implementation for the monitoring and tracking of underground mobile equipment and customer support for a MySandvik project,” says Sandvik Technology Centre manager, Hosea Molife.
Hardware is installed on the equipment together with the software to gather and transmit operational data, allowing mine management to view equipment location and productivity at any time. The data is automatically analysed.
Mining companies in Zimbabwe are grappling with rising costs, and are looking to automation technology to help manage expenses and waste.
Ian Bagshaw, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions territory manager, says the technology gives miners vital real-time information such as tonnes mined and holes drilled per shift.
“These customers are certainly leading the way globally in the platinum mining sector,” Bagshaw says. “There is a strong safety element in the digital journey, as machine automation can help keep operators away from the workface and other potentially hazardous areas of the mine.”
There are already three projects underway at the Technology Centre, says Molife. The solution is being provided to 100 machines on one site, while Optimine is being installed on a 76 unit fleet and Automine is initially being used to create a trucking loop for a single unit pilot project.
“The beauty of our facility is that it can be quickly ramped up as demand grows, allowing us to serve a growing customer base as mines see the practical value of applying digital technology,” he says.
The Technology Centre will serve clients in South Africa, Botswana and further in the region, the company says.
While Zimbabwean mines are resource-rich and shallow, years of underinvestment has seen many of them lagging behind on new mine technology. For monitoring processes, some older mines stull rely on paper-based and static data platforms.
Zimbabwe is looking to mining to push its ambitious economic growth targets.