BHP’s Jimblebar mine will be the first operation in the mining giant’s Pilbara iron ore portfolio to move completely to driverless trucks.
In an email to staff, WA iron ore boss Edgar Basto and Jimblebar general manager Elsabe Muller said Jimblebar’s existing fleet of 25 Caterpillar 793F autonomous trucks would be expanded to 50 by the end of the year.
They said mine automation was part of the company’s strategy to improve safety, build capacity and remain globally competitive.
It is understood all affected staff will be offered alternative jobs or new roles working with the driverless trucks.
“Employees will be provided training to further develop their skill sets for the roles required to support autonomous haulage,” the email stated.
At last count, Rio Tinto had 76 driverless haul trucks operating across its Pilbara iron ore network with plans for its new Silvergrass project, coming online this year, to be fully automated. Haul trucks at its Yandicoogina, Nammuldi and Hope Downs 4 minesites are driverless.
Last month, Fortescue Metals Group announced it would convert another 12 CAT haul trucks at its Solomon Hub operations and 100 at its Chichester Hub to driverless.
FMG has 56 driverless trucks at its Solomon Hub, representing 75 per cent of its fleet at the operation.
Nothing Purpose Built…. yet
It seems that while the capex tap has been partially turned on to enable retrofitting of existing truck fleets, none of the majors are prepared to invest in the new, purpose built bi-directional autonomous trucks unveiled at Minexpo last year.
SOURCE – WEST AUSTARLIAN – 7th July 2017