A joint development project involving two of the mining industry’s flagship companies – Atlas Copco and Anglo American – is well under way towards “a potential milestone in future mining technology”, says the partners. Atlas Copco, the mining and construction equipment manufacturer and Anglo American, the global mining group, are set to test a new type of mining machine that is expected to transform the extraction process of ore from underground hard rock mines. The two companies have been cooperating in a research and development partnership since 2012 and say their combined efforts, which centre on mechanical excavation technology, are now in an advanced stage with proof-of-concept testing scheduled to start in the fall, 2015.The statement said: “If all goes according to plan, it will be a milestone for the partnership and one of the most significant examples of innovative technology to emerge from Anglo American’s FutureSmartTM approach to mining.” Scott Barker, President of Atlas Copco’s Underground Rock Excavation Division, says: “We are very proud to be Anglo American’s partner in this joint development project and we are excited at the prospect of demonstrating this potential game-changing technology to the mining industry.”Donovan Waller, Group Head of Technology Development at Anglo American, comments: “Atlas Copco is a well-known supplier to the mining industry with more than 140 years of product development to its name. In addition, they share our vision that we need to work together for the future benefit of the industry. Atlas Copco is therefore an ideal choice to partner with us on this exciting journey.” Speaking at the Dassault Conference in Las Vegas, USA last November, Waller explained the philosophy behind the FutureSmartTM initiative: “We are looking for a radical transformation of the way we do things and that means taking a fresh approach,” he said. “Anglo American believes in seeing how technology can benefit entire systems, not just certain just parts of them. We also believe that the benefits to the industry as a whole can only be realised through openness and collaboration.”For Atlas Copco, a successful outcome will be seen as confirmation of the company’s commitment to innovation and sustainable productivity in underground mining. For Anglo American, it will demonstrate the visionary force behind the FutureSmartTM innovation initiative which embraces integrated thinking and collaborative partnerships. Mikael Ramstrom, Manager of Global Strategic Projects and Alliances and the man who heads up the project team at Atlas Copco, says: “The mining industry need to be more cost efficient and predictable in its ore production systems. One way to achieve this is to move towards continuous mining systems based on mechanical rock cutting. If Atlas Copco and Anglo American together prove that this is possible – and we are confident that we will – we can expect it to be a game-changer for the industry.”Dragan Janicijevic, Anglo American’s Project Manager Mining & Engineering – Technology Development, agrees: “In developing this concept together we have proventhe tremendous benefits that can be gained by this type of collaboration,” he says. “Our skills as a mining company combined with Atlas Copco’s technical knowhow has proven to be a very worthwhile combination.” According to Anglo American, the new technology focuses on rapid mine development and on making hard rock mining faster and safer. Further information will be made available as the project progresses.