1000 more hours work a year, and 15% cheaper than their human equivalent.
Wednesday 20 December 2017
The march toward automation of Australian mine sites has reached a key milestone this week with Rio Tinto announcing that by mid-2019 all haulage its Brockman 4 Iron operation will be automated.
According to Rio Tinto - who owns both the Kestrel and Hail Creek coking coal mines in Central Queensland - a total of 29 Komatsu haul trucks will be retrofitted with Autonomous Haulage Systems (AHS) at Brockman, followed by a further 19 Caterpillar haul trucks at the Marandoo mine from mid-2018.
By the end of 2019, about 1 in 3 of Rio’s 400 haul trucks in the Pilbara will be AHS-enabled.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the retrofit projects are expected to make a significant contribution toward Rio Tinto’s $5 billion productivity programme.
“We are excited to be starting a new chapter in our automation journey with a valued long-term partner in Caterpillar, and we are proud to be extending our successful partnership with Komatsu on this world-first retrofitting initiative,” he said.
“Rapid advances in technology are continuing to revolutionise the way large-scale mining is undertaken across the globe, and the expansion of our autonomous fleet via retrofitting helps to improve safety, unlocks significant productivity gains, and continues to cement Rio Tinto as an industry leader in automation and innovation.
“We are studying future additions to our autonomous fleet in the Pilbara, based on value, to help deliver our share of $5 billion of additional free cash flow for the company by 2021.
“Rio Tinto is committed to working closely with our workforce as we transition to AHS including providing opportunities for new roles, redeployment, retraining and upskilling.”
The retrofit is also significant for Rio Tinto because it marks the first time AHS technology has been deployed on Caterpillar haul trucks.
According to Rio, last year, on average, each of Rio Tinto’s autonomous haul trucks operated an additional 1000 hours and at 15 percent lower load and haul unit cost than conventional haul trucks.