Automated mining trucks come online for Rio

Massive vehicles transporting iron ore controlled from 1,200km away

Automated mining trucks come online for Rio
Rio Tinto's mining operations in WA are set to become lonlier places


Rio Tinto has announced it has moved to a completely automated fleet of iron ore transporters at two of its WA mine sites.

The Yandicoogina and Nammuldi mines are two of the largest of their kind in the world, and the company says they are the first to use a fully automated fleet. Rio has a total of 69 vehicles being operated remotely from Perth, collectively moving more than 20 million tonnes of iron ore per month.

Mining operations manager at Yandicoogina Josh Bennett says the company benefits in both safety and productivity terms.

As well as driver wages, there are the flights and accommodation costs involved with getting those drivers to the remote mine sites. Rio Tinto will also save on setup costs of infrastructure for a larger on-site workforce.

Bennett says safety was another key consideration.

"We have taken away a very high risk role, where employees are exposed to fatigue," he tells the ABC, adding that the automated machines offer greater reliability than human drivers.

"One of the advantages we have had with autonomous haulage p[is that] we are getting consistency in terms of the way the machines are operating."

Rio Tinto is also trialling driverless train operations, with a view to developing a fully automated supply chain.

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