Autonomous mine meets safety metrics

Friday, 17 March, 2023 | Supplied by: Epiroc

Autonomous mine meets safety metrics

An iron ore mining project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia is entering the final stage of its autonomous haulage system (AHS), converting its trucks to a driverless operation.

Since 2020, Epiroc and automation specialist ASI Mining have worked with Roy Hill to develop an autonomous haul truck solution that is interoperable and scalable regardless of manufacturer.

The project’s production verification phase is complete, and 10 haul trucks have been converted to driverless operation. This was undertaken by using ASI Mining’s Mobius traffic management and on-board automation systems to navigate the mine’s virtual map and communicate with other vehicles — as well as with the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth. The AHS fleet is meeting the desired safety and productivity metrics and achieving higher productivity rates than the conventional haul truck fleet.

The autonomous haul trucks are running 24/7 in a dedicated autonomous operating zone, interacting safely with two excavators and numerous ancillary vehicles at intersections, waste dumps and load areas.

The project’s progressive expansion will see autonomous haul truck numbers grow steadily throughout 2023. The fleet will comprise 54 Caterpillar trucks and 42 Hitachi trucks. In addition, more than 200 ancillary vehicles will interact with the autonomous haul trucks.

“The ground-breaking automation work together with Roy Hill and ASI Mining over the past couple of years has been successful and very exciting,” said Helena Hedblom, President and CEO at Epiroc.

“The team working on this is doing a fantastic job, and we are now looking forward to collaborating with Roy Hill in ultimately achieving the world’s largest autonomous mine. This will bring significant benefits for both safety and productivity.”

“Roy Hill’s in a strong position to continue its transition to autonomous haulage early this year with our teams onsite and at the ROC in Perth now skilled in autonomous operations,” said Gerhard Veldsman, Roy Hill Chief Executive.

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