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Robots, Space Technology Run Australia's Mining Miracle

By PhysOrg.com

March 31, 2010

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Rio Tinto plans to use satellite, motion-sensor technology, and robotics to become the most technologically advanced mining company in the world.

The Anglo-Australian mining giant has been trialling all kinds of automation technologies at its A-Pit test site since December 2008, and will wrap up the project this year. The results of the research determine which technologies Rio Tinto rolls out across its operations.

Rio Tinto has a new operational center in Perth that will be fully operational in June, and will allow the miner to coordinate all of its rail, mine and port systems from one place. The operations center is the focal point of its "Mine of the Future" program, which envisions Rio Tinto using driverless trucks and trains with artificial intelligence that can learn the layout of a mine and use sensors to avoid objects.

Rio Tinto also hopes to use sensor-fitted "smart drills" that can be operated remotely.

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