-backed mining self-driving company "Yikong Zhijia" recently announced that it closed a tens of millions dollar Series B1 round of funding, led by Zijin Mining and followed by original shareholders including , Eight Roads, Estar Capital, and MinxiXinghang State-owned Investment and Operation Co.

The funding round will be used mainly to expand the technical team, purchase mining trucks and other equipment, and accelerate product development, the company said.

Yikong was founded in May 2018 to position itself as an operator of driverless vehicles for mines, not just a technology solution provider.

It began trial operations in large open-pit coal mines in northwest China last year, settling with the miners in terms of earthmoving volume.

When the coal mine operations are stable, it will replicate its model to other mines and expand to non-coal mining scenarios such as non-ferrous mines, the company said.

Yikong CEO Wason said the company is building a team and conducting traditional earthmoving business in Inner Mongolia to help the technical team better understand the mining scenario and accumulate business relationships to reserve operational talent for future scale up landings.

The company has 20-30 technicians stationed at the mine site year-round, with chairman Zhang Lei and chief engineer of the open pit Sun Qingshan spending 90 percent of their time at the mine, Wason said.

Zijin Mining said developed mining countries such as Australia have even higher employment costs and a more urgent need for unmanned personnel.

The market space for overseas mines is huge, and Yikong has the opportunity to provide low-cost and efficient driverless transportation services for overseas mines, generating greater economic value, Zijin Mining said.

At the end of last year, Yikong completed its Series A funding round, co-led by Nio Capital and Eight Roads, for a disclosed amount.

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