News, Software

No injuries in train derailment shows value of autonomous machinery

A Rio Tinto autonomous train derailed on the evening of February 11, with no injuries reported.

The accident, which involved over 35 wagons, occurred about 120km from the Dampier Port in WA.

“An investigation has begun, and the appropriate regulators have been notified,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson said in an email. “Work to recover derailed wagons has also commenced.”

While the iron ore major has not revealed the cause of the derailment yet, the fact that no injuries occurred speaks to the value of autonomous machinery in creating a safer mining sector.

According to the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the most common occurrence of injury on a mine site in 2022 was due to vehicle rollovers or falls from getting on or off a vehicle. 

It stands to reason that removing operators from vehicles will lead to fewer incidents, and more mines seem to be putting this belief into action.

Rio Tinto operates approximately 50 driverless trains across the Pilbara and has been doing so since 2019using the autonomous system AutoHaul. 

Three derailments have occurred in that time, including one in June 2022 and one in September 2022. All have reported no injuries or loss of life 

None of the three derailments have been linked back to the autonomous nature of the trains.

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