Fortescue Metals Group has launched operation of a relocatable conveyor system at the Cloudbreak iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The 5km conveyor includes a semi-mobile primary crushing station and feeds directly into the Cloudbreak ore processing facility at the Chichester Hub.
Fortescue, which awarded RCR Tomlinson a $33 million contract to design, manufacture and construct the system last November, can position the relocatable conveyor and semi-mobile crushing facilities approximate to pits and relocate it once mined.
The iron ore miner has developed the relocatable conveyor to provide greater flexibility and increased accessibility to remote mine pits.
It expects the system to reduce haulage costs, offset rising strip ratios and deliver sustained efficiency improvements across the business.
Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the long and shallow nature of the ore body at the Chichester Hub presented unique challenges and opportunities.
“Since Fortescue first began operation with strip miners, the team has consistently brought new ideas and solutions to deliver the most from our ore bodies,” Gaines said.
“In partnership with RCR Tomlinson, we have been able to adapt the relocatable conveyor technology frequently used in underground mining operations, allowing our team to respond to the requirements of the mine plan with greater flexibility.
“Together with the rollout of autonomous haulage technology (AHS) across the Chichester Hub, this innovative conveyor system will contribute to further productivity and efficiency improvements and maintain our cost leadership position.”
Fortescue is converting around 100 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub, which will see miner become the first iron ore operator in the world to have a fully autonomous fleet.