By doubling its fleet of driverless trucks at its iron ore mining operations in the state of Western Australia, Rio Tinto will increase its production to 333 million tonnes annually by the end of 2015. The haul trucks are to be deployed in the largest mine site in the Pilbara region at Yandicoogina.
The trucks have performed well above expectation as per Rio Tinto over the last two years that they have been on trial at the West Angelas mine. The company has been trying out the Autonomous Haulage System technology around the clock in the mine since December 2008.
The haulage system uses GPS technology to autonomously navigate the trucks around a pre defined course from the place of loading to the dump location. They have been hauling loads meant for waste dumps, stockpiles and crushers.
10 trucks will be deployed by next April in the Yandicoogina junction south east pit. They will help to haul high grade ore, low grade ore and waste material from many loading units. The deployment of the trucks will be a major step in the evolution of the project into full operations.
The mining giant, who faced a difficult first quarter due to climatic conditions, is still on track to produce 240 million tonnes of iron ore this year globally. This is marginally higher than the 239 million tonnes that it managed to produce in 2010.
The operations president for Pilbara Greg Lilleyman made a statement saying that the deployment of the driverless autonomous trucks would be the first operational deployment of this technology in Australia or anywhere on this scale.