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Increasing production and safety using a machine-control solution

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Europe’s biggest open-pit mine, Minas de Ríotinto, is based in a landscape with height differences up to 250 meters. In this capricious landscape, running a profitable operation while taking safety concerns is extremely challenging. By using a Topcon machine-control solution, contractor Sanchez y Lago aims to increase production up to 30 percent.

Minas de Ríotinto is located in the southwest of Spain. In this surrealistic, martian landscape, miners have been excavating iron, silver and copper for thousands of years. Today, the mine is owned by Atalaya Mining. Aiming to become one of Europe’s leading copper producers, the company wants to go from producing 9.5 million tonnes of ore to no less than 15 million tonnes per year.

Challenging landscape

To succeed in fundamentally increasing the production, a rapid transportation of materials is key. Materials need to be transported around the clock. To safely run this vast operation, driveways need to be as smooth as possible. Without a smooth surface, accidents are prone to happen and materials quickly wear out.

“Our main challenge is mining the maximum amount possible in the shortest time possible, while always taking safety concerns into account.”

Manuel Paredero González, production engineer at Sanchez y Lago

Leveling the grounds

To level the grounds, contractor Sanchez y LagousesMC-Max Excavator machine-control with a Sitelink3D site management system to transfer design data directly to the machines. Since track and surface designs are automatically imported and processed, operators don’t have to manually check the different layers with a level. “A much safer way of working that is definitely more profitable”, according to Diego García Atance from Atalaya Mining.

“This system heightens productivity, because with better-leveled tracks and pit entrance ramps, it's easier for the trucks to access the pits. In this way, we can save time and improve time performance.” Diego García Atance, Atalaya Mining

Real time orientation feedback

Juan Carlos Ramos, Topcon Sales Manager, set up the MC-Max Excavator system on site. Ramos explains how the system works: “It's based on inclination sensors which are set up both on the machine's body and on the mobile parts, the boom, the dipper stick and the bucket along with two integrated receivers in the rear part of the cabin which make the machine stay in absolute positioning and orientation, even at standstill. In this way, we know the exact position of the bucket at any time and in real time.”

Knowing the exact position of the bucket and maneuvering with real time data helps the operator to excavate the exact right amount. The bucket can be positioned in line with the design to the millimeter.

“If we can increase performance, efficiency and safety, I think we all win.”

Diego García Atance, Atalaya Mining

Support team on site

To get the best out of the technology, Sanchez y Lago opted for Topcon professional services. A decision that helps to tackle challenges on site, and get the best results possible, according to Manuel Paradero González.

“Working with Topcon has helped me be successful, as they find solutions to the problems we've encountered over time. This is an important advantage. We feel guided and supported. Topcon's technology helps the mining industry, especially with regard to safety.” Manuel Paradero González

From an irregular surface to a smooth one. Partnering up with Topcon has helped contractor Sanchez y Lago to produce at an incredible production rate while, most importantly, keeping everybody safe and sound.

Atalaya Mining is happy to see their mining operations progress in a smooth, safe and successful way.