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First autonomous road trains land at Onslow Iron

autonomous road train

Mineral Resources has welcomed its first convoy of road trains with autonomous haulage solutions (AHS) technology to its Onslow Iron project in the Pilbara.

The Kenworth C509 prime movers were transported from Perth in a two-and-a-half-day journey spanning more than 1280km.

According to MinRes, the single-engine road trains are the “biggest in the world” and can each haul 330 tonnes of iron ore. The full fleet of 150 trucks will be fitted with autonomous technology at a rate of around 10 each month.

The movers will be based at MinRes’ truck maintenance facility near Onslow while they undertake trials and verification before commencing autonomous operations.

MinRes director of technology and innovation David Geraghty said the delivery marks an exciting milestone for Onslow, with autonomous road trains set to become a game changer in the industry.

“The prime movers are being progressively fitted out with autonomous technology by autonomy specialist Hexagon. It’s fantastic to see the first batch arrive in Onslow in preparation of first ore mid-2024,” Geraghty said.

“They will initially commence as manned operations, with trials and verifications with safety drivers to occur later in the year before we transition to autonomous operations.”

MinRes handed the keys to its road train fleet to Hexagon in December to begin installing the AHS technology.

Now the trains will travel on a 150km dedicated and fenced haul road running from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the MinRes transhipping terminal at the Port of Ashburton.

MinRes project manager Marcus Kenny said the road trains would enhance road safety by eliminating interactions with public vehicles.

“The haul road is separate to public roads, with tunnels under North West Coastal Highway and Onslow Road, and fenced to keep stock and wild animals off the road,” Kenny said.

“Autonomy in mining isn’t about replacing people – it’s about taking them out of dangerous situations and employing their skills elsewhere.”

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