Industry News

Autonomous roadtrains achieve world first in WA

A world-first milestone has been reached in Western Australia with autonomous roadtrains.

Mining company, Mineral Resources, has successfully demonstrated an automated roadtrain platoon with each triple trailer unit hauling 300 tonnes of iron ore.

The demonstration showcased the successful application and operation of the company’s autonomous roadtrains pilot project, which has been underway at its Yilgarn iron ore operations since late 2021.

Mineral Resources has partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.

Mike Grey, Chief Executive – Mining Services, said automating a roadtrain platoon of this size had never been achieved before and he was delighted that Mineral Resources was leading the world with this ground-breaking innovation.

“It’s been an exciting journey over the past year and we’ve now achieved a world-first platoon of three autonomous roadtrains, which is a game-changer for us,” said Grey.

“It’s an extremely proud moment to see our autonomous project grow from desktop concept to iron ore reality so quickly.”

In the commodities sector, Mineral Resources is renowned for providing innovative and low-cost solutions across the mining infrastructure supply chain.

The autonomous roadtrains will form an essential part of what Mineral Resources called its cost-efficient supply chain unlocking stranded resources in the Pilbara region as part of the Ashburton Hub Iron Ore Project.

Mineral Resources, according to Grey, had introduced a number of new technologies over recent years to enhance the safety and operational efficiency of its long-distance roadtrain haulage fleet.

The autonomous roadtrains are now, in accordance with the business asset management strategy, taking operations to the next level.

The technology, per a Mineral Resources statement, will initially be adopted for its own operations, with a view to offering the solution to a large Tier One customer base as it further bolsters its mining services division.

“As we get ready for the Ashburton Hub Iron Ore Project and look to unlock stranded tonnes of iron ore, our autonomous roadtrains will be the vital link between the pit and the port,” said Grey.

“As the first of its kind in the world, it opens up new opportunities for us, as we can trial the technology ourselves before offering it to our Tier 1 customers.”

Hexagon has enjoyed working with Mineral Resources given the necessity for it to quickly bring ideas into production said Nick Hare, Hexagon Mining Division President.

“We value the opportunity to demonstrate our position as a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions. Mineral Resources is an ideal partner for a project of this size and complexity,” he said.

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