Automated robot charger pilot solution for remote blasting of rock face

ABB has developed automated robot charging technology to blast the rock face in unsupported areas of underground mines. This innovative technology will make mines safer by automating one of the few manual processes left in mining: charging the blasting holes with explosives.

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Blasting at the rock face is one of the few manual processes left in mining. This is a typically dangerous phase of mining, it requires people to be present for charging explosives at the unsupported rock face, meaning they are exposed to rock bursts.


The Robot Charger automates charging at the rock face, meaning that humans no longer need to be present in this part of the mining process. The robot charger can be remotely controlled, safely charging the bored holes without the need for human intervention.


Removing humans from this part of the mining process makes mining safer. The robot arm can also be retrofitted to any charging truck, making integration seamless.

About the ABB Robot Charger




ABB’s Robot Charger is being developed in close collaboration with Boliden and LKAB and it helps put the customer in control. The Robot Charger technology comprises vision systems and automation solutions which communicate with both truck and crane as well as the ABB industrial robot arm.

The Robot Charger is fitted to a charging carrier vehicle, which enters the mine face, detects boreholes, and fills them with explosives and detonators. The solution can be retrofitted to an existing truck, making adoption seamless for customers and the incorporation of a second robot arm which assembles detonators and primers, ensures automation of the full charging process and full reach to all boreholes and areas of the rock face.

How the robot charger works

To begin, the robot finds the drilled holes on the rock face. It does this using the integrated vision system, identifying all the drilled holes within the designated scanning area. The system then calculates how to reach all holes, and to charge them.

Charging of the first hole begins when the robot takes a detonator cassette from the detonator magazine. The detonator is fixed to the primer and subsequently attached to the end of the charging hose. The charging head is then moved to the position of the first hole and the charging hose is pushed into the bottom of the drilled hole. Explosives are then pumped through the hose whilst the hose itself is retracted.

After detonation at the first hole, the remotely controlled robot is then moved to the next drilled hole to start this process once again. The robot continues hole by hole across the rock face.

This new technology is part of the efforts to create a long-lasting impact on the safety, efficiency and productivity of mining. The Robot Charger has been tested at the Boliden Garpenberg mine in Sweden - the world's most productive underground zinc mine – where the testing team was able to go 1km below ground to demonstrate the autonomous mining robotics solution.

What the experts say

“With this robotic charger we can make the already safe environment that we have even safer. And by having a safer working environment we also become more attractive as an employer for people who would like to come and work here."

“If you think of a mine, you think of this heavy industry that’s dirty and dangerous and that’s not how it is anymore. Projects like this will make mining become even more attractive. We hope that we will get a bigger diversity of people who look for jobs in mines with initiatives such as these.”

Caroline Kuiper, Mining Manager, Garpenberg (Boliden)

ABB is now seeking other mine operators to test the Robot Charger in different mine environments and in regions beyond Northern Europe with varying climates and rock compositions.

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