Russian and South African presidents Vladimir Putin and Cyril Ramaphosa during a plenary session at the Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Thursday. Photo: AP

DURBAN – The opportunity for Russia to supply industrial robots, dump trucks and bulldozers to the African mining industry, as well as other digital technologies, was discussed on Thursday at the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi.

The panel discussion included Sierra Leon mining minister Foday Rado Loki, representatives of Russian companies ZYFRA, ALROSA and CHETRA, as well as Maximus Mining and General Maniema Mining Company from Democratic Republic of Congo.  

The theme of the discussion was "The African mining industry: New Russian technologies and high efficiency".

"As in Russia, extractive industries form the basis of the economy in Africa. Thirty per cent of the world's mineral reserves are located on this continent. According to government data, in South Africa alone, mining contributes eight out of every 100 rand to the overall economy, and accounts for one out of every 40 jobs,” said Igor Bogachev, chairman of the subcommittee on digital economy of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

“At the same time, it is important to consider the harsh climates in which these enterprises are located, the growing health and safety requirements, and the challenges of hiring highly qualified personnel. Without automation and robotics, it would be impossible to solve these problems," added Bogachev.

"At ZYFRA, we offer regional players automated control system solutions for mining and transport complexes, as well as robotic equipment," said Pavel Rastopshin, managing director of ZYFRA, the first company in Russia to develop a robotic dump truck. 

“The use of robotic technology is 20 percent higher compared to conventional machinery. Thanks to such technology, the driver of a dump truck can transition into a control centre operator, overseeing the use of several vehicles at once. This Fall, our robots were put to use in the SUEK quarry in Khakassia and Morocco. Our next destination for this technology is South Africa," added Rastopshin.

Panelists agreed that traditional mining methods are becoming increasingly costly, while productivity is declining due to high maintenance costs, low equipment reliability, reactive troubleshooting, low equipment utilisation and safety incidents.

According to General Maniema Mining Company chief executive George Oyema, improving workplace safety and productivity "serves the interests of both unions and workers, as well as owners and, ultimately, the state, by safely increasing the productivity of the industry."

The Russia-Africa summit and economic forum is attended by heads of African states, representatives of Russian, African and international business and government agencies, as well as representatives of integration associations from the African continent.

African News Agency (ANA)