Fortescue install automated trucks at its Solomon Hub Kings mine

Fortescue Metals Group has installed Caterpillar autonomous trucks at its Solomon iron ore mine in the Pilbara.

The two signed an autonomous truck deal in July last year, which included the complete MineStar technology suite.

At the time Chris Curfman, Cat vice president, said "this collaboration will positively impact sustainability at Fortescue’s Solomon mine through a reduced environmental footprint and machine efficiencies".

As part of the second phase of automation implementation, following the installation of the technology and vehicles at the Firetail mine, Fortescue will have the same system running at its 40 million tonne per annum Kings mine.

Eight 'Command for Hauling' Cat 793F CMD trucks have been commissioned and started operations.

The mine plan will see this fleet expand and ramp up to 45 autonomous trucks over the next several years.

Leighton Contractors, which secured the $2.8 billion contract for Kings earlier this year, will operate the trucks.

"Caterpillar is pleased to team with Fortescue and Leighton Contractors for the operations of our autonomous mining solution," Curfman stated.

"Working with all the partners, we look forward to managing the entire Cat MineStar System suite of technology products at Solomon in order to drive process efficiency, increase productivity and enhance safety. The Solomon project is an excellent fit for our progression to the next level of technology and sustainable mining—with the ultimate goal of delivering greater value for our customers."

Hans Haefeli, Caterpillar's advanced components and systems division vice president, added that "Fortescue’s Solomon mine is the first project of its kind for Caterpillar".

"Utilising the entire Cat MineStar System suite of surface mining technologies, both autonomous and manned machines are producing iron ore from two mines at Solomon.The depth and breadth of the Cat precision technology, coupled with skilled control personnel, is designed to enable the dual fleet to work safely and efficiently and to reach production goals quickly."

The MineStar technology covers a range of different facets of vehicle and machinery automation and control.

Once in full operation the Solomon iron ore hub will have a workforce of around 1200 people.

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