Its well-known RCT’s experience spans nearly five decades, however it is not common knowledge that for two of those decades the company has been actively helping clients in South America.
It all began with the company’s foundation solution, Muirhead® protection systems. These were requested by a client wanting to get more longevity from their bulldozers and loaders which were machine re-builds.
Since this initial project, RCT has gone from strength to strength in the region. As a result, the company has helped deliver fit-for-purpose solutions, encompassing all of its brands, to big name clients including, Codelco, Antofagasta Minerals, Anglo American, BHP, and many more, both directly and partners.
The South American mining region in general is well-known for its copper and gold mines, all of which are located in areas exposed to extreme weather conditions (the heat and the cold) in addition to some being positioned in high altitude locations, making for some precarious working conditions for miners.
Therefore, RCT’s premier automation and control solutions - ControlMaster® have and continue to be in demand in both surface and underground mining operations in the region. While RCT’s Line-of-Sight and Teleremote options dominate the surface mining market, the full automation range is in strong demand for underground mining operations.
This journey for these solutions began in the early 2000’s after RCT completed an audit for ControlMaster® Line-of-Sight controllers at BHP’s Escondida Mine in Chile. The world’s largest copper mine wanted a proven solution to safeguard bulldozer operators manning the ROMpad feeders and crushers. RCT were able to retrofit the mobile machines with the technology that removed the operators from the cab of the machine and allowed them to operate it from a safe location - ultimately solving the issue for the client.
By 2008 RCT collaborated with Hexagon mining to engineer and deliver a bespoke solution to Codelco’s Andina mine site that allowed them to operate safer and for longer in the lead up to the winter shut down, reducing the number of days they had to stop work. This R&D project saw the delivery of a ControlMaster® Teleremote solution, paired with a Muirhead® Speed Limiter and combined with Hexagon Mining’s MineOps Geofencing systems installed on a Komatsu WD600 wheel dozer.
The company was fast becoming a household name; however, it was RCT’s project at Codelco’s El Teniente in 2018 that cemented its reputation in the region. RCT’s ControlMaster® Automation solution helped El Teniente successfully and safely mine ore rich mud in what is believed to be a world-first mining method in these conditions. This impressive feat was facilitated by RCT’s specialised department, RCT Custom, who delivered the bespoke solution to minimise the risk involved in mining in these conditions.
This project required RCT to retrofit its ControlMaster® solutions that were previously installed on Codelco’s mobile machines operating at its Adina surface mine site before integrating the refurbished equipment, installing them on working production loaders (Sandvik LH517’s) into the existing mine network. The solution removed the operator from the cab of the loader and allowed them to control the machine from the comfort and safety of an Automation Station located in an underground control room of the mine.
RCT’s solution allowed El Teniente to recover mud ore reserves that were previously deemed too dangerous to access due to the mud flow into these areas. In addition to this, the loaders were able to tram faster, avoid walls and obstacles after being automated which significantly increased productivity and reduced machined damage and unplanned downtime.
“It was with this project that RCT earned itself a strong reputation technically, it really put us on a solid footing going forward,” said RCT’s Commercial Executive, Phil Goode.
This project was also monumental for the company as it further reiterated the need for RCT to have more of a local presence and compelled the company to open an office in Santiago, Chile last year. The team, comprising of five, multilingual staff are working hard to support our existing and new clients in the region.
“Having a team working locally helps RCT to better function in Chile and other South American, Spanish speaking countries. Technically we have always been very good, but the office allows us to understand the business culture and provide that next level of support to our clients,” he said.
“Most importantly, it allows us to provide the first rate level of customer service and after sales support we have built a solid reputation on delivering to all of our clients around the world.”
Currently RCT’s innovative solutions are being delivered in Tailings and Waste Management situations with the company working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster® range of solutions.
With a local presence, a strong point of technology difference and the experience and knowledge RCT will continue to make its mark in South America going forward.
“We are very different from other companies in the region. As we have been in the industry for 48 years now and therefore we have an immense amount of combined experience in various regions around the world, which can’t be matched, we bring that experience to each client to deliver solutions to meet their specific requirements,” said Goode.