Japan-based equipment manufacturer Komatsu has partnered with Chilean State-owned miner Codelco to trial a new tunnel excavation method using a newly launched tunnel boring machine (TBM).
The trial will start in 2024 at Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine, in Chile.
Codelco and Komatsu, through its Komatsu Cummins Chile subsidiary, aim to speed up the introduction of this technology globally through the trial.
The machine caters well to increasingly deeper mining operations.
Komatsu has since 1963 been developing boring machines for use in civil engineering and mining. To date, the company has introduced more than 2 300 TBMs in the market.
The latest TBM is enabled with technologies that adapt to small curves, reversing and passing intersections in hard rock tunnels. Previously, TBMs were only generally able to excavate in straight tunnels.
“The new technology improves on the flexibility of its predecessors and enables excavation of tunnels according to more unique designs of each mine,” Komatsu explains.
Moreover, Komatsu has been focused on developing equipment with more environmental sustainability in mind, therefore involving no blasting and no diesel.
The new machine runs on electricity and does not require the use of blasting. It can also perform a series of tunnel excavation processes, eliminating the need for more vehicles.