Fortescue Metals Group has acknowledged a new record in mining safety standards with its autonomous haul (AHS) fleet reaching the milestone of two billion tonnes of material moved.
The milestone has doubled the amount of ore hauled by Fortescue’s autonomous fleet since September 2019.
Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the record autonomous haulage figure represented greater on-site safety for its workforce.
“Moving over two billion tonnes of material without a driver at the wheel is a significant milestone and a reflection of Fortescue’s ongoing commitment to increasing operational efficiency through technology and innovation,” she said.
“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has led to significant safety improvements for our team members, with our fleet safely travelling over 70 million kilometres to date – the equivalent of 91 return trips to the moon.”
According to a company statement, the continued expansion of autonomous capability across the business has demonstrated that autonomy doesn’t need to be at the expense of jobs.
Fortescue has used the transition to autonomous haulage to provide new opportunities for its workforce through the provision of training and redeployment to new roles.
“Significantly, the adoption of autonomous haulage has allowed us to relocate many traditional site-based roles to our integrated operations centre in Perth, providing opportunities for parents and women in particular to remain engaged in our workforce,” Gaines said.
“Today, almost 50 per cent of our workforce in the Fortescue hive are women.
“Our fleet represents one of the largest in the world, with 79 trucks currently in operation at Solomon, 74 at Christmas Creek, and 40 at Cloudbreak.”
Last month, Fortescue used Perth’s Resources Technology Showcase to demonstrate its autonomous Caterpillar MineStar Command fleet at the Christmas Creek operation.
Despite Christmas Creek being 1500 kilometres away in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Fortescue operated a Cat dozer from the safety of the Perth Convention Centre.
In 2012, Fortescue was the first company in the world to deploy Caterpillar’s autonomous haulage technology on a commercial scale at its Solomon Hub operations.
The fleet has since expanded across the company’s Pilbara operations with a total of 193 autonomous trucks now in operation.