PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Mining major Rio Tinto has been granted accreditation by the Australian Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, approving its autonomous operation of trains at its iron-ore operations, in Western Australia.
Rio implemented autonomous trains at its Pilbara operations in the first quarter of 2017, with about 65% of the all train kilometers completed in autonomous mode by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
The miner noted on Friday that more than three-million kilometers have been completed in autonomous mode to date.
Rio’s AutoHaul project is continuing to progress and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018, with the miner taking a phased approach to deploying autonomous trains across its network in the lead-up to full commissioning.
Once commissioned, the network will be the world’s first heavy haul, long distance autonomous rail operation, which Rio said will unlock significant safety and productivity benefits for the business.
The miner operates around 200 locomotives on more than 1 700 km of track in the Pilbara, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. Rio is expected to ship between 330-million and 340-million tonnes of ore in 2018, subject to market and weather conditions.