Sumitomo Metals’ Hishikari underground mine in the Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, has become the country’s first mine using automated loading technology thanks to the operator’s partnership with Sandvik.
Sandvik’s AutoMine system will aid the operation to increase productivity, improve safety and maintain better cost control, the OEM said, while also bringing digital transformation of the mining process closer and increasing operational transparency.
The Japanese high-grade gold mine has about 20 grams of gold per tonne of ore. In steady operations since 1985, Hishikari is the only gold mine in Japan that still operates on a commercial scale today.
It commissioned AutoMine Lite on a Toro LH307 underground loader in December 2022 for operation at its small cross-section tunnels. It will additionally bring the system in for its production areas to enhance safety, accelerate underground efficiency and improve productivity.
Hidenobu Yabu, manager of Mining Section for the Hishikari mine, said its goal is to become a corporate enterprise that produces resources with advanced technology by 2030.
“By implementing advanced technology and innovation, we aim to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve safety. Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in our long-term focus on the Hishikari mine,” he added.