Rio Tinto doubles its fleet of driverless haul trucks at its iron ore operations in Western Australia and deploy them at Yandicoogina, the largest mine in the Pilbara.
The move follows a two-year trial of Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology on trucks at the West Angelas mine, which has performed well above expectations.
The trucks will dump ore for the first time, marking a major step in the evolution of the project towards full operational deployment. Previously the trucks only dumped waste product.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Pilbara Operations president Greg Lilleyman said “This is an exciting step in achieving our Mine of the Future vision, and a critical one in our drive for outstanding safety and production efficiency as we grow our business towards 333 Mt/a capacity.”
“It will be the first operational deployment of this technology in Australia, or anywhere on this scale. The trucks will be used for all haulage requirements in the Junction South East (JSE) pit, moving high grade, low grade and waste material from multiple loading units”
The AHS project has been underway at West Angelas since December 2008, operating around the clock for more than two years , moving more than 42 Mt of material in approximately 145, 000 cycles, traveling more than 450,000 kilometers.
In that time, performing a number of tasks, the AHS technology has demonstrated clear value to the business, especially to the areas of health, safety and productivity. The AHS trucks use pre-defined courses and navigate autonomously from loading units to dump locations, including waste dumps, stockpiles and crushers. The main navigation system is GPS, combined with a secondary navigation process.
The existing five Komatsu 930E trucks fitted with Komatsu’s “Frontrunner” AHS system, will be moved from West Angelas to the Yandicoogina mine, where they will combine with five new 930E trucks, and operate the JSE pit.
The 10 autonomous trucks will operate Yandicoogina JSE under the control of Yandicoogina mine management, supported by the AHS support team. It is expected to be fully deployed by April 2012.
The deployment of the driverless truck fleet forms a key part of the Mine of the Future programme. Launched in 2008, the Mine of the Future programme creates next generation technologies for mining operations that result in greater efficiency, lower production costs, and improved health, safety and environmental performance.
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals, (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant business in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.