In yet another milestone, Rio Tinto has announced that its fleet of autonomous haul trucks last week moved their one-billionth tonne of both ore and waste material across five sites in the Pilbara.
Last year, Rio Tinto’s haul trucks fitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology moved roughly a quarter of the total material sources from its Pilbara mines.
According to the company, each autonomous truck was estimated to have operated about 700 hours more than conventional haul trucks during 2017 and at around 15% lower load and haul unit costs.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said there are currently more than 80 autonomous Komatsu trucks in operation, with plans in place to increase this number to more than 140 by the end of 2019.
“Hauling one billion tonnes autonomously is an impressive milestone for our business and again highlights Rio Tinto’s pioneering spirit when it comes to adopting revolutionary new technologies which are making the industry safer and more efficient,” he remarked.
“We are studying future additions to our autonomous truck fleet that we expect will contribute to our $5 billion productivity programme, specifically Iron Ore’s commitment to deliver $500 million of additional free cash flow from 2021 onwards.”
“We remain committed to working closely with our employees as we expand our autonomous haul truck fleet including providing opportunities for new roles, redeployment, retraining and upskilling.”