First Sandvik AutoMine loader in Brazil starts operations at BHP’s Pedra Branca –

Brazil’s first AutoMine loader recently officially started operations at BHP’s Pedra Branca copper-gold mine in Para state, northern Brazil, an important milestone for Sandvik in the country, which says it is committed to supporting the future of sustainable and safe mining.

Specifically, the LH514 loader is using AutoMine Lite. Sandvik says this is a system that maximises equipment performance through automation, which results in increased productivity, safety, and savings in operations. “Fast, accurate, consistent and dynamic, it is designed for small- and medium-scale mining applications, especially in environments that are constantly changing. AutoMine Lite offers high performance for loading and conveying automation, making it a super effective solution.”

The first TH545i dump truck to operate in Brazil was previously delivered to Pedra Branca mine in late 2021, along with other Sandvik equipment including the loader. In total, the mine now has five different models of Sandvik drilling, loading and transport equipment as part of a modern and complete fleet.

The Carajás Province in Northern Brazil hosts a significant number of undeveloped copper-gold deposits. Prior to its acquisition by BHP, OZ Minerals said in its 2022 annual report that it was pursuing a staged, low risk and modest-capital hub approach in the Carajás, where each hub would process ore from several nearby satellite mines. A significant milestone was the commencement of underground mining at Pedra Branca in Água Azul do Norte in 2021, which is part of the Carajás East Hub and is the first of the intended satellite mines with Santa Lucia set to be second.

The Pedra Branca asset comprises an underground copper and gold mine with an 8-year mine life which ramped-up to full production during the June quarter 2022 and had been showing strong operational performance with multiple stopes consistently in production.

Most recently in its operational review for the quarter ending September 2023, BHP stated that the Carajás Province (ie Pedra Branca as the only operating mine) had produced 1,200 t of copper and 800 troy oz of gold. The much lower than usual figures were due to operations having been suspended in August 2023 due to a geotechnical event, but which recommenced in the following months. For the full year 2022, Pedra Branca had produced 11,378 t of copper and 8,674 oz of gold. In Q1 2023, the mine produced 3,207 t of copper and 2,638 oz of gold.


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