Fortescue deployment of Cat autonomous technology takes next step

Cat 793F mining trucks operating for Fortescue. Image: Caterpillar

Caterpillar and Fortescue Metals Group are moving ahead with the expansion of Cat Command for Hauling at the iron ore miner’s sites in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The expansion includes retrofitting around 100 Cat 793F and 789D and Komatsu 930E truck models at the Chichester Hub, as well as an expansion of the Cat 793F autonomous truck fleet at the Solomon Hub operations.

Command for Hauling is built on a foundation of the other Cat MineStar System capability sets – Fleet, Terrain, Detect and Health. It will be utilised across the mobile equipment fleet, including support equipment and light vehicles.

Caterpillar said it was working with Fortescue, Thiess Contractors and Cat dealer, WesTrac, to provide a solution for managing, operating and supporting Cat MineStar System and Command for Hauling.

“Caterpillar is pleased to build on the success we have had working with Fortescue to implement autonomous mining solutions,” Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Surface Mining & Technology Division, Jean Savage, said.

“Working with all the partners, we look forward to growing the entire MineStar suite of technology products throughout Fortescue’s operations and working with them to drive process efficiency, increase productivity, lower cost per tonne and enhance safety.”

Fortescue chief executive officer Nev Power said the company valued the strategic relationship developed with Caterpillar since 2012.

The autonomous haulage technology has achieved a 20 per cent improvement in productivity for Fortescue at the Solomon Hub, Power added.

“We will continue to work together to ensure the next stage successfully builds on the safety, productivity and efficiency gains we have achieved so far,” Power said.

“By harnessing leading-edge technology, supporting the skills development of our workforce and collaborating with our suppliers, we will continue to deliver ongoing cost reductions, ensuring we remain at the lowest end of the global cost curve.”

Fortescue and Caterpillar have collaborated to integrate autonomous haulage at the Solomon Hub operations since the first half of 2013. During this time, Fortescue’s autonomous haulage fleet has expanded to 56 Cat 793F CMD trucks.

In August, the Fortescue autonomous fleet surpassed the milestone of 400 million tonnes safely hauled since the launch of the system.