PERTH (miningweekly.com) - Diversified giant Rio Tinto has hauled its first iron-ore from the Yandicoogina mine, in Western Australia, using driverless trucks.
The Junction South East (JSE) pit now has a fleet of 10 Komatsu driverless haul trucks which will move high-grade ore for the first time, marking a major step towards full operational deployment of the project. The trucks would be used for all haulage requirements in the pit, moving high-grade, low-grade and waste material from multiple loading units.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Sam Walsh said on Thursday that the deployment of the driverless trucks was the next step in Rio’s programme to introduce over 150 driverless trucks to its Pilbara operations, making the company the world’s largest owner and operator of these vehicles.
"Autonomous haulage is an important component in our Mine of the Future programme. These new trucks will work with our pioneering operations centre that integrates and manages the logistics of 14 mines, three ports and two railways. They will be a critical part of our drive to outstanding safety and production efficiency as we grow our business towards 353-million tons a year.”
The Mine of the Future programme, which was launched in 2008, aims to create next-generation technologies for mining operations, resulting in greater efficiency, lower production costs and improved health, safety and environmental performance.
Rio has been testing the Komatsu AHS, the world's first commercial autonomous mining haulage system, in the Pilbara since December 2008. During the trials the AHS technology demonstrated benefits in health, safety and productivity.