Fortescue Metals Looks to Cut Costs With Driverless Dump Trucks

The Fortescue Metals Group has decided to use robotic dump trucks in the Solomon project being planned for the Pilbara region of Australia's North West. Andrew Forrest’s company will have an automation rollout in Western Australia that is larger than the one operated by rival company Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has been involved in a pilot test project with these automated trucks since 2008. It announced that it was planning to double the size of its remote truck fleet from five to ten by April 2012. However Fortescue Metals has given Caterpillar and its local distributor Westrac a contract for 12 driverless trucks by the end of the year.

The trucks are to have the capacity to handle 200 tonne payloads each and will be used in the Solomon mine. And this is just the first stage. It hopes to have 45 trucks handling 120 million tonnes of iron ore annually from Solomon by 2015. Rio's trucks can haul 320 tonnes each.

Jim Walker the managing director of Westrac said that a Pilbara truck driver and associated housing, meals and transport cost about $1 million a year. With the driverless trucks much of this cost will be slashed. Caterpillar Group president Steve Wunning said the equipment would also provide a significant improvement in mine safety and reduce Solomon's environmental footprint.

Joel Scanlon

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Joel Scanlon

Joel relocated to Australia in 1995 from the United Kingdom and spent five years working in the mining industry as an exploration geotechnician. His role involved utilizing GIS mapping and CAD software. Upon transitioning to the North Coast of NSW, Australia, Joel embarked on a career as a graphic designer at a well-known consultancy firm. Subsequently, he established a successful web services business catering to companies across the eastern seaboard of Australia. It was during this time that he conceived and launched News-Medical.Net. Joel has been an integral part of AZoNetwork since its inception in 2000. Joel possesses a keen interest in exploring the boundaries of technology, comprehending its potential impact on society, and actively engaging with AI-driven solutions and advancements.


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