PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Mining major Rio Tinto on Friday officially rolled out its $940-million AutoHaul rail technology programme, marking the world’s first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network.
Rio’s 2.4-km-long trains, running a network of 1 700 km of track, have now safely travelled more than 4.5-million kilometres autonomously since they were first deployed in December 2018, delivering iron-ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert.
Rio iron-ore MD for rail, port and core services Ivan Vella said the deployment of AutoHaul was a reflection of the pioneering spirit of the project team and its partners.
“This project has cemented Western Australia as a leader in the heavy-haul rail industry and has attracted interest from around the world. The successful deployment of the world’s first heavy-haul long distance rail network demonstrates the potential for significant further improvement in such operations with others around the world looking to replicate.”
“AutoHaul has brought the rail freight industry in this country into the twenty-first century and is rightfully the subject of global interest,” Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said at an event marking the official celebration of the rail technology programme.
Vella noted that early results from the deployment of AutoHaul highlighted the technology’s potential to improve productivity, increase flexibility and reduce bottlenecks in Rio’s iron-ore system.
Rio’s Pilbara operations are being transformed to flex in line with market conditions and AutoHaul is a vital component in increasing flexibility and safety in the system, he added.