January 27, 2022
“Agnico Eagle is a Canadian mining company that has been around since 1957. I work at the Kittilä site in Finland, which had open pit operations between 2008 and 2012 and started underground operations in 2010. We’re the largest gold mine in Europe, with 500 employees and 600 contractors, producing over 6 000 kilograms of gold in 2020.
I was a project manager and representative of Agnico Eagle in the first SIMS project. Some things have changed for NEXGEN SIMS – the consortium is slightly smaller, there’s a slightly narrower focus, and we’re hitting the ground running, getting off to a flying start. I think OZ Minerals is a great contribution to the consortium, it’s always nice to have a partner outside of the EU to bring a different perspective. Even if it’s harder on the meeting time schedule.
"With autonomy, we can remove human presence in hazardous areas and lower barriers to exploit more resources."
Agnico Eagle will be task leader for task 3.1, which revolves around connectivity and communication. We will set the scene for Ericsson and the other tech providers, who might not fully understand the reality of mine environments and how they operate.
One of our main contributions is offering the Kittilä mine as a pilot site, where we will develop and demonstrate a fully automated loading cycle. Several machines will be working together to enable a complete workflow, without human interaction during the cycle.
Doing live pilot tests and demonstrations under actual working conditions is important. When you can see the process with your own eyes, instead of seeing it on a screen, you get a better understanding. Also, it sparks discussions, resulting in feedback on site. For this project we will use a controlled environment in a small part of the mine, but the ultimate goal is to implement the solutions in the whole mine.
With NEXGEN SIMS, we address efficiency and safety concerns. With autonomy, we can remove human presence in hazardous areas and lower barriers to exploit more resources. This is an important project to secure minerals for future products.”
NEXGEN SIMS is a consortium of 13 partners collaborating in an EU-sponsored project to develop autonomous carbon-neutral, sustainable mining solutions, building on the successful SIMS project, which ran from 2017 to 2020. The partners are: Epiroc Rock Drills, AFRY – ÅF Digital Solutions, Agnico Eagle Finland, Boliden Mineral, Ericsson, KGHM Cuprum, KGHM Polska Miedź, K+S Minerals and Agriculture, Luleå University of Technology (LTU), LTU Business, Mobilaris MCE, OZ Minerals and RWTH Aachen University. The project has a budget of 16 million euros and will run from May 2021 to April 2024.