425 tonne driverless road trains for the Pilbara

A world first pilot program using 385 tonne GCM driverless triple road trains is currently underway, with plans afoot to ramp it up to 425 tonne set-ups that would run in convoy in the Pilbara.

Mineral Resources (MRL) is working on the ambitious autonomous road train project in partnership with digital reality solutions provider Hexagon.

“MRL has always been at the forefront of providing innovative and low-cost mining services solutions,” said Mike Grey, MRL chief executive – Mining Services.

“In recent years, we have implemented a number of new technologies which have enhanced the safety and operational efficiency of our long-distance road train haulage fleet, reducing the risks of driver fatigue and increasing fleet availability. The autonomous road trains will take us to the next level again. They provide a safe, cost-efficient solution for hauling ore, which is key to unlocking stranded tonnes in the Pilbara.”

MRL says the autonomous road trains will form an essential part of the cost-efficient supply chain for the Ashburton Hub Iron Ore Project.

“To support the development of the 30Mtpa Ashburton Hub, we plan to run a fleet of 425 tonne Gross Combination Mass (GCM), triple-trailer road trains operating across multiple convoys, with each road train convoy consisting of up to five prime mover trucks, with three trailers each, hauling the ore from the mine-site to the Port of Ashburton,” MRL said in a statement.

“The autonomous road train solution integrates Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement. A successful pilot project is underway at our Yilgarn operations using 385 tonne GCM triple-trailer road trains, which have been tailored for the specific economic constraints of iron ore and other bulk commodities. During the next two years, the testing will continue, ramping up to 425 tonne GCM in time for the Ashburton Hub Project.”

MRL says it will initially adopt the technology for its own operations, with a view to offering the solution to its large “Tier One customer base.”

“Being part of the MRL Group, our Mining Services division is in a really good position to trial all of our new technologies on our own mine sites prior to offering additional services to our customers,” added Grey.

“Our autonomous road trains, combined with our other innovations, are all part of our growth strategy to expand our capability to provide full pit-to-ship, low-cost infrastructure solutions.”

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