Fortescue kick-starts autonomous expansion at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group’s first haul trucks fitted with Autonomous Haulage Technology (AHS) as part of its current expansion are now operating at the Christmas Creek site in the Pilbara.

The conversion of around 100 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub will see Fortescue become the first iron ore operation in the world to have a fully autonomous fleet.

AHS trucks have moved more than half a billion tonnes of material for Fortescue since they were introduced at the Solomon Hub in 2013, delivering a productivity increase of more than 30 per cent for the company.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the company has a proud history of embracing leading-edge technology to ensure it remained at the lowest end of the global cost curve.

“Innovation and technology is fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across the business, ensuring we continue to deliver returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders,” Gaines said.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology is leading to improved safety outcomes by significantly reducing the risk to our team members.”

Workforce skills development has been a significant aspect of planning for the expansion of automation, according to Fortescue, with the implementation of a staged, sustainable redeployment process already permanently assigning team members to new roles.

“Training is at the heart of everything that we do and our approach to autonomy is to ensure that no one at Fortescue is displaced as a result of this important initiative,” Gaines said.

“We are working closely with our team members to offer professional development opportunities to expand their capabilities and provide pathways to a significant range of different roles throughout the company.”

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