Fortescue autonomous fleet achieves major milestone

Image: Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group’s fleet of autonomous haul trucks in Western Australia has hit a milestone with more than one billion tonnes of material moved safely.

The autonomous fleet has covered 33.5 million kilometres, or in excess of 1.2 million kilometres a month – a distance equivalent to travelling around Australia 2.6 times every day.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the introduction of autonomous haulage technology (AHS) had led to improved safety outcomes for its team members.

This was achieved through reduced interaction between heavy equipment and people in mining areas.

“Our autonomous fleet has not only moved more than one billion tonnes of material, it has also delivered a 30 per cent improvement in productivity and reflects our commitment to increasing operational efficiency through industry leading technology and innovation,” Gaines added.

Fortescue was the first in the world to deploy Caterpillar’s AHS on a commercial scale at the Solomon Hub operations in Western Australia.

This fleet has since seen its expansion to Fortescue’s Chichester Hub, with 137 autonomous trucks now in operation.

Fortescue will also convert a total of 175 trucks to autonomous technology by mid-2020, making it the world’s first iron ore company to have a fully autonomous haulage operation.

“As we expand our autonomous haulage fleet, our focus remains on ensuring that our workforce is prepared for the changing industry landscape through our training and redeployment program, which has successfully transferred or upskilled employees to new roles across the business, resulting in no forced redundancies,” Gaines concluded.