Mining companies have been using tunnel borers for a long time. However, in order to increase efficiency and enhance safety in its tunnel boring tasks, in 2012 Rio Tinto decided explore the possibility of using automated tunnel borers in building shafts and tunnels at a faster rate.
Then to carry out the programme, Rio partnered with the Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) , as part of the Mine of the Future Initiative. This relationship has resulted in a new tunnel boring system that is on trial at Rio’s Northparkes Mine in Australia. If it succeeds, it could revolutionalise tunnel boring, which is a time-consuming and costly exercise.