Australian mining contractors Murray Engineering and Byrnecut have been involved in the delivery of the first automated underground mine in Africa, for Randgold.
The Kibali gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is in the north-east of the country, with production of around 500,000 ounces in 2014.
The lead contractor for the operation is Byrnecut, a private Western Australian company, with revenue of about $900 million annually.
Byrnecut Offshore maintenance manager Dave Cornish said the major driver behind the move to automation was reducing the damage cost of machines.
“The decision was to do with the technology becoming available and Byrnecut Offshore wanting to remain on the cutting edge of technology,” he said.
“It is one of our selling points in maintaining industry leadership in contract mining.”
The company estimates a 25 per cent increase in production levels from the move with no increase to operating costs.
Generally savings from automation come from improved safety rather than need for less labour.
Randgold has further work planned on the mine, which will eventually be powered by four hydropower stations.
In total, the Jersey-based business is spending $2.5 billion developing the mine, it said.
Earlier this year the company acquired Newcastle-based electrical engineering business SRO, with the combined entity estimated to generate revenue of about $50 million annually, while in January it opened a Kalgoorlie office.