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Rio Tinto Continues to Roll Out Driverless Technology

Mining company Rio Tinto is getting closer to completing its Mine of the Future™ initiative.The company has now deployed 57 driverless trucks at i...

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|Apr 1|magazine5 min read

Mining company Rio Tinto is getting closer to completing its Mine of the Future™ initiative.

The company has now deployed 57 driverless trucks at its Hope Downs 4 joint venture in Pilbara, as well as recently testing its first autonomous train as part of its AutoHaul™ program.

• [VIDEO] Rio Tinto Unveils Mine of the Future, Hints at Big Data Optimization

Rio Tinto’s managing director of Pilbara mine Michael Gollschewski said the automation testing is only the beginning.

"We've only just started,” said Gollschewski told a business lunch. 

"We've got these various technologies and in their own right they're providing benefits, but we still haven't got it working as a mine automation system that is fully functioning.

"There's a lot of technologies that we're working on that start to get these different things talking to each other that will further drive efficiencies."

In the process of automating Rio Tinto's iron ore mines the number of staff and drivers will be reduced.

"Roughly speaking there's around a third less people involved in load haul but the overall skill levels of that group increase," Gollschewski said. "We probably employed less people than we would have done." 

Since unveiling the project in 2008, Rio Tinto’s driverless technology has hauled more than 200 million tons of iron ore. The company hauled 290 million tons in 2014. 

As the Mine of the Future™ continues to take shape, Rio will continue to invest in driverless technology and big-data utilization to improve mining operations. Rio's AutoHaul™ program is expected to have up to 41 autonomous trains installed in its newtwork by the second half of 2015. 

(Source: The Australian)