Anglo American abandons autonomous truck plan in QLD

The Dawson site. Image: Anglo American.

Anglo American has scrapped a plan to replace a portion of its truck fleet at the Dawson coal mine in Queensland with autonomous trucks.

The decision follows a feasibility study carried out at the Dawson mine which considered the option of introducing autonomous haulage systems (AHS) instead of undertaking a major overhaul of the company’s 23-strong fleet of CAT797 trucks.

Subsequently, Anglo announced it would overhaul the existing fleet rather than purchasing new trucks and implementing AHS, a decision that will be revisited in the next few years as the company looks to replace the fleet.

An Anglo American spokesperson said that while the study found AHS presented opportunities to improve truck fleet performance, the company was prioritising other measures to achieve safer and more production operations at Dawson.

“The accelerating pace of technological innovation, particularly in the areas of digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence, is opening up opportunities for the mining sector to be safer, more productive and sustainable,” the spokesperson said.

Despite opting out of joining other majors such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group with the use of autonomous trucks, Anglo American has found other ways to leverage the development of technology in its operations.

In addition to its open cut technology program, Anglo American has initiated remote longwall operation from mine surface and introduced an electronic tablet device to be used in its Australian underground coal mines, which was launched at Moranbah North earlier this year.

Anglo America’s plan for autonomous trucks comes just two months after BHP talked up ambitions to add up to 500 autonomous trucks at its coal and iron ore operations across Australia.

In the Pilbara, Komatsu announced a deal to deploy 41 automation-ready haul trucks at BHP’s South Flank iron ore project.

The trucks add to the 250 AHS machines Komatsu has already deployed and the 180 operating globally across three continents at nine mine sites.

Earlier this year, Rio Tinto confirmed that Caterpillar would supply 20 autonomous 793F trucks and four autonomous blast drills, in addition to automation technologies and enterprise systems to the company’s Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara.

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