Champion Iron has signed a Letter of Intent with Caterpillar to implement artificial intelligence based advanced drilling technologies on Cat equipment at its Bloom Lake Mine.

“We are honoured to collaborate with industry leaders like Caterpillar and Toromont Cat, and are confident that our workforce’s proven operational expertise and ingenuity will be an asset in deploying these technologies,” said David Cataford, Champion CEO.

The project will progressively implement a remote-controlled, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous Cat electric drilling fleet, utilizing the Technologies engineered, designed, and/or integrated by Caterpillar. With Champion contributing its experienced workforce, and Caterpillar’s independent dealer, Toromont Cat, its aftermarket support, the collaboration will aim to optimize Bloom Lake’s operational productivity and reduce energy consumption, while demonstrating the capabilities of Caterpillar’s advanced drilling technologies. A Drill-to-Mill strategy (D2M) is expected to be deployed based on a series of tightly integrated systems, driven by Cat MineStar solutions, designed to optimise the drilling, loading and hauling processes. D2M is focused on delivering improved milling performance by supplying optimized mill feed, while contending with dynamic operational conditions.

Real time data and AI

Using real-time data, artificial intelligence and analytics, Caterpillar’s integrated technology will support Champion’s ability to assess the status of machines, technologies, and material to enable more timely and accurate operational decisions and consistent execution across Champion’s entire mining value chain. The goal of the collaborative effort will be to deliver a fully integrated drill-to-mill technology solution powered by data connectivity and advanced analytics to ultimately improve workflow between the mine and plant, providing a more efficient end-to-end enterprise process that delivers more consistent raw material for final product specification requirements.

Cataford explained that the aim and vision of improving mining practices and ultimately reducing waste and energy use is the foundation of this collaboration. The entire Bloom Lake team has already demonstrated its ability to operate at a consistently high level, since commissioning the mine in 2018. “In doing so, we have continuously strived to improve operations utilizing the best existing and new prospective mining technologies. Drill-to-mill aligns with our core value of respecting the land that we exploit, as it will enable us to responsibly extract non-renewable resources using the best means possible,” he concluded.

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