Fortescue autonomous trucks hit billion tonne milestone

Image: Fortescue Metals Group.

Fortescue Metals Group’s fleet of autonomous haul trucks in the Pilbara has surpassed the one billion tonne milestone of material moved, covering 33.5 million kilometres in the process.

The company claims there has been “no forced redundancies” as the autonomous truck program has expanded since it was launched in 2012.

Fortescue first deployed Caterpillar’s autonomous haulage technology (AHS) at the Solomon Hub operations, making it the first company in the world to do so on a commercial scale.

The company has since added a fleet to the Chichester Hub, with a total of 137 autonomous trucks now in operation.

Fortescue will convert a further 175 trucks to autonomous technology by mid-next year and become the world’s first iron ore company to have a fully autonomous haulage operation.

Chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines described the milestone as “significant” for Fortescue.

“Our autonomous fleet has not only moved more than one billion tonnes of material, it has also delivered a 30 per cent improvement in productivity and reflects our commitment to increasing operational efficiency through industry leading technology and innovation,” Gaines said.

“Importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has led to improved safety outcomes for our team members through reduced interaction between heavy equipment and people in mining areas having safely travelled over 33.5 million kilometres.”

Fortescue will remain focussed on preparing its workforce for the “changing industry landscape” through its training and redeployment program.

The program has successfully transferred or upskilled employees to new roles across Fortescue, resulting in no forced redundancies, the company stated.

Fortescue rolled out 38 autonomous trucks at its Cloudbreak operation in Pilbara in May as part of the company’s effort to convert 175 machines by mid-2020.

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