Xsite® Machine Control Enables Remote Controlled Excavations in Gongo Soco Mine, Brazil

The Gongo Soco mine, situated in the municipality of Barão de Cocais, Minas Gerais, Brazil, holds historical significance as a key site during the Brazilian Gold Cycle from 1745 to 1856. This period attracted global attention, drawing foreigners to exploit the region’s abundant gold resources. Later, Gongo Soco transformed into an iron ore extraction hub under VALE, one of the world’s largest mining corporations, overseeing its operations.

However, a tragic incident occurred in Brumadinho due to a tailings dam collapse. Subsequently, the Gongo Soco mine underwent scrutiny by the National Mining Agency, leading to the classification of three of its dams as Level 3, indicating the utmost and imminent risk of rupture.

In response, over a thousand residents were evacuated in 2019, and VALE, responsible for the Gongo Soco dams, initiated the recharacterization process in the area.

Safety in Remote-Controlled Excavators

To safeguard workers during dam deconstruction, the Public Ministry mandated remote, unmanned operations. The dam site was divided into “Common Area” and “ZAS” (Self-Rescue Zone), where solely unmanned equipment could operate.

Due to the high risk, the number and size of equipment were restricted. In extraordinary circumstances necessitating human presence in ZAS zones, individuals were airlifted by helicopter and tethered to the aircraft throughout their work.

The Gongo Soco mine currently relies on advanced technology, specifically the Xsite® PRO 3D machine control system, for its operations. Twelve excavators and four bulldozers are equipped with Xsite® Pro 3D, allowing teleoperated control.

Additionally, the mine employs one Leander base and a rover system. Notably, the Xsite® PRO 3D system integrates with operators’ remote cabins, enabling them to visualize the machine’s surroundings and monitor project execution. This technology plays a pivotal role in the ongoing decharacterization efforts, ensuring the safety and efficiency of operations at the Gongo Soco mine dam.

The mine plans to expand its teleoperated equipment to include 30 more units in the coming years.

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