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Komatsu brings autonomy to mining truck fleet

A process to make 41 Komatsu mining trucks autonomous is well underway

A fleet of Komatsu mining trucks are set to be converted into autonomous operation and put to work in the Pilbara.

Following approval from mining giant BHP in January to deploy the Komatsu 930E trucks at its South Flank iron ore mine, the project commenced with trucks phased in from June.

In total, 41 930E trucks will transition to autonomous haulage across five Autonomous Operation Zones (AOZs) – with the process expected to be completed by September 2023.

The fleet will be controlled from a purpose-built control facility at the South Flank site.

South Flank, which cost US$3.6 billion to create, is just one of many mines across Western Australia and Queensland which will deploy Komatsu’s autonomous haul trucks.

Since July 2020, a fleet of 930E autonomous-ready trucks have been moving iron ore and materials at South Flank. Across the country, Komatsu is on track to have over 430 autonomous trucks operating by the end of the 2022 calendar year.

Komatsu general manager for mining automation Garry Povah says 15-month rollout of the trucks is well on track.

“All 41 of the 930E’s on site are now in the process of being upgraded to fully autonomous operation, at the rate of four a month,” Povah says.

Komatsu Australia chief executive Sean Taylor says the autonomous technology will have many benefits across the industry.

“Komatsu’s autonomous technology helps drive job creation, with a focus on safety, diversity, upskilling and an innovative flexible work force that meets the needs of people and communities with business goals,” Taylor says.

“Not only does Komatsu’s autonomous haulage technology have a proven record in safety, productivity and lower haulage costs, but we pride ourselves on our ground-breaking contributions to autonomous technology solutions in the industry.”

The South Flank mine, located 156km north-west of Newman, is Australia’s largest new iron ore mine in more than 50 years.

When South Flank merges with neighbouring Mining Area C facility, it will form the largest iron ore hub in the world, producing 145 million tonnes each year.

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