Japan’s Hitachi is ramping up its investments in mining technology as it winds down a 33-year marketing agreement with U.S. equipment giant John Deere and positions itself as a leader in smart mining technology.
The Hitachi Construction Machinery Group has been in an alliance with John Deere since 1988. But the end of that agreement next March will allow Hitachi to run its race in digital mining through its subsidiary ConSite mine, which is designed as a digital solution for the operations of an entire mine.
The ConSite mine model is being piloted in mines in Australia, Zambia, and Indonesia and will be rolled out commercially across the mining industry later in 2021.
Hitachi has also been making technology investments as part of its digital strategy, making an April investment in Australian lidar sensor company Baraja, which is developing autonomous haulage systems for mining dump trucks and large-scale hydraulic excavators.
Baraja has created and builds a technology called Spectrum-Scan Lidar used in highly automated operations. This uses a prism-like optical sensor head that measures distances to all objects in high resolution and is highly durable as it has few moving parts.
“More than just an investment relationship, we expect that this relationship will lead to technological improvements and accelerated commercialization for both parties in areas such as terrain measurement and obstacle detection,” said Hideshi Fukumoto, vice president and chief technology officer for Hitachi Construction Machinery.
In October 2020, Hitachi also invested in the Chrysalix RoboValley Fund, a Canada-based fund for mining and industrial innovation startups.
Hitachi has contributed to a fund that aims to raise USD 120 million for investment in what the company says are “disruptive innovations using digital solutions.”
These comprise AI, IoT, sensors, and advanced robotic technologies targeted at companies working in the resources sector and manufacturing.
Hitachi has long sought leadership in autonomous mining through its One Hitachi initiative, which brings together a range of Hitachi Group technologies and open innovation to create new solutions for the industry.
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