The overburden (OD14) semi-autonomous drill is the first in Anglo American Metallurgical Coal's fleet to be fitted with this capability.
"This is a significant step towards FutureSmart Mining at Metallurgical Coal," said Matt Graham, Anglo American's principal, open-cut technology and automation.
The introduction of the semi-autonomous drill brings a number of benefits, including safety improvements, increased productivity, and a reduction in shift change times, which is important somewhere like Dawson where the operation spreads across 50km.
The project team received guidance from colleagues in other parts of Anglo American, including the Copper business in Chile and the Kumba Iron Ore business in South Africa - there are 12 drills currently in use across the business.
They worked with electrical control system supplier Flanders and Dawson's maintenance and engineering team to upgrade the drill system's on-board computer, sensors and new safety devices. The information management team also upgraded the mine's Wi-Fi network to ensure connectivity.
"We're always looking for ways to be safer, more productive and more sustainable, and the opportunity at Dawson was attractive because of the ‘can do' culture of the team," said Dieter Haage, head of mine modernisation on Anglo's technical & sustainability team.
"Applying technology in this way is how we modernise our approach, and the Dawson mine has taken an important first step on this journey."
Work will continue on the overburden (OD14), while the team focuses on automating the drill rod changing process. Once this is complete, they'll explore opportunities to upgrade other drills in the Metallurgical Coal fleet.