Autonomous trucks start operations at Fortescue’s Cloudbreak mine

10 May 2019 (Last Updated June 17th, 2020 13:34)

Fortescue Metals’ goal for a fully autonomous fleet of haul trucks moved a step closer after the first Cat 789D trucks fitted with the technology began operations at its Cloudbreak iron ore mine in Pilbara, Western Australia (WA).

Autonomous trucks start operations at Fortescue’s Cloudbreak mine
Iron Ore Mining, Cloudbreak. Credit: Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

Fortescue Metals’ goal for a fully autonomous fleet of haul trucks moved a step closer after the first Cat 789D trucks fitted with the technology began operations at its Cloudbreak iron ore mine in Pilbara, Western Australia (WA).

The company will roll out 38 autonomous trucks at the Pilbara site, a project that is part of a plan to convert 175 machines by the middle of next year.

Fortescue’s programme at the Cloudbreak mine is part of an automation initiative that began in 2012 when it became the first company in the world to implement Cat autonomous haulage on a commercial scale.

“Our remote operations centre located in Perth is a critical part of our integrated supply chain and key to increasing productivity and efficiency across our operations.”

Fortescue said the start of operation of the first Cat 789D model trucks fitted with autonomous haulage technology (AHS) completes another significant step to becoming the first iron ore operation in the world to have a fully autonomous haulage fleet.

The company said that 160 pieces of machinery were transferred to the Cat MineStar Command remote operations server for the rollout of the AHS at Cloudbreak.

Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines said: “Currently, Fortescue's pioneering AHS deployment is the largest mining technology programme in the industry.

“Our remote operations centre located in Perth is a critical part of our integrated supply chain and key to increasing productivity and efficiency across our operations.”

The Cloudbreak mine comprises the 5km relocatable conveyor, which has replaced the equivalent of 12 manned trucks. The conveyor features two semi-mobile primary crushing stations and feeds directly into the Cloudbreak ore processing facility (OPF).

The mine began production in 2008 and produces nearly 38Mtpa of iron ore.

Cloud Break is one of the three iron ore mines operated by Fortescue in the Pilbara region, with the other two being Christmas Creek mine and the Solomon project.