ABB has successfully completed testing of the industry-first automated robot charging technology for underground mines in partnership with mine operators Boliden and LKAB. The goal is to make mines safer by automating one of few manual processes left in mining: charging the blasting holes with explosives.

Blasting schedules in underground mines can vary, but the process takes place up to fifteen times per day in larger mines as miners expand the chambers to extract mineral and metal ores. ABB Robot Charger automatically detects boreholes and fills them with charges without the presence of humans, removing the need for people to be near the unsupported rock face during blasting sequences.

The completed testing phase confirms the effectiveness of integrating the robot charger with a carrier vehicle, communication with bulk emulsion and vision systems and incorporation of a second robot arm to assemble prime and detonator. It ensures full reach to all borehole levels and areas of the rock face and remote control for operators.

ABB is now embarking on the final stage of development that aims to execute the full blasting sequence in the underground mine with full control of the robot handed over to the customer.