Sandvik mining to supply world’s largest underground mine automation system to argyle diamond mine

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Sandvik Mining today announces an order from Rio Tinto to provide advanced mine automation systems for use at Argyle Diamonds underground mining operation in Western Australia. The automation systems are scheduled for delivery in 2012-2013.

Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine, one of the world's major suppliers of diamonds, has selected the Sandvik AutoMine system to enhance safety, accelerate its underground operation efficiency and achieve production improvements.

The order from the Argyle Diamond Mine comprises the AutoMine system with eleven electric loaders, LH514Es, and two diesel LH410 loaders. The system delivery also includes Sandvik’s recently launched Draw Control product that enables accurate tracking, reporting and overall management of manual production loading during the mine’s development phase.

Automated loaders will be operated from Sandvik control room systems including three operator stations in a surface control room.

The Argyle AutoMine system will be delivered and installed to adhere to stringent Australian mining sector standards for functional safety, including the AS61508. Sandvik Mining is the only supplier in the world to comply with the strict Australian safety laws and requirements. This was recently demonstrated and confirmed in connection with a successful AutoMine delivery to Rio Tinto’s Northparkes mine, where the system is now operating 24 hours a day in a production capacity. It has proven to be a safe and efficient technology, and the work undertaken at Northparkes will significantly streamline the delivery, implementation and support process at Argyle.

The advanced AutoMine automation systems will be the largest underground mining automation installation in the world to date. The Argyle production structure is fully designed for automation when fully operational. At its peak the mine’s block cave annual production will reach around 9 million tonnes per annum, with 16 extraction drives.

“This order is a very important milestone in the growth of our fleet of AutoMine not only in Australia but globally as well,” said Riku Pulli, Vice President, Mine Automation of Sandvik Mining. “The AutoMine Draw Control and AutoMine Loading systems are ideally suited for Argyle’s block caving operation. We are honored that Rio Tinto has put their confidence in our AutoMine system to improve their operation safety and efficiency,” he added.

The Argyle Diamond Mine is one of the world's largest suppliers of diamonds. The Argyle Underground mine is being developed using a block caving technique and will produce on average approximately 20 million carats per year over life of the block cave. The Argyle Diamond Mine, which is 100 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, has been operating since 1985. In its 27 years of operation the mine has produced close to 800 million carats of rough diamonds.

Sandvik Mining is the world’s leading provider of mine automation technologies with more than 10 automation systems deployed in around 7 countries worldwide.

Sandvik is a global industrial group with advanced products and world-leading positions in selected areas – tools for metal cutting, equipment and tools for the mining and construction industries, stainless materials, special alloys, metallic and ceramic resistance materials as well as process systems. In 2011 the Group had about 50,000 employees and representation in 130 countries, with annual sales of more than 94,000 MSEK.

Sandvik Mining is a business area within the Sandvik Group and a leading global supplier of equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining industry. The offering covers rock drilling, rock cutting, rock crushing, loading and hauling and materials handling. In 2011 sales amounted to about 32,200 MSEK, with approximately 13,200 employees (pro forma rounded numbers).

Argyle Diamonds
The Argyle Diamond mine is located in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region, 2,500km north of Perth and is 100 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, one of the world’s biggest mining companies.

Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

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