Rio Tinto accelerating its automated Haul Truck roll out as drivers retrained for other jobs
Wednesday 31 January 2018
Rio Tinto says it will accelerate the rollout of Automated Haul Trucks (AHT’s) off the back of major productivity and safety benefits recorded in their Western Australian mines.
According to Rio, AHT’s moved 25% of the material shifted in WA, and in 2017 they did 700 hours more work over the year compared to human operated trucks, contributing to per unit cost savings of around 15%.
In the decade since they first started trialling AHT’s, Rio has now shifted one billion tonnes and has a working fleet of 80 machines, which they hope to increase to 140 by the end of 2019.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said they are working through the adjustments required in their business.
“Hauling one billion tonnes autonomously is an impressive milestone for our business and again highlights Rio Tinto’s pioneering spirit when it comes to adopting revolutionary new technologies which are making the industry safer and more efficient,” he said.
“We are studying future additions to the autonomous truck fleet that we expect will contribute to our $5 billion productivity programme, specifically Iron Ore’s commitment to deliver $500 million of additional free cash flow from 2021 onwards.
“We remain committed to working closely with our employees as we expand our autonomous haul truck fleet including providing opportunities for new roles, redeployment, retraining and upskilling.”
It is not clear whether Rio Tinto has any plans to start using automated Haul trucks on their Central Queensland Hail Creek and Kestrel coal mines, however it seems unlikely since both mines are reportedly for sale.
Next month some preliminary data is expected from a trial of three semi-autonomous Cat D11T bulldozers performing bulk “pushing” tasks at a mine near Blackwater.
Mining contractor Wolff Group has been trialling the machines since July last year.