Pits & Quarries
Caterpillar surpasses 5 billion tonnes of material autonomously hauled
September 22, 2022 By Don Horne
A mining industry first for autonomous haulage achieved in less than 10 years
Roughly nine months after reaching the 4-billion-tonne autonomously hauled milestone, trucks equipped with Cat MineStar Command for hauling have now moved over 5 billion tonnes.
Cat autonomous trucks are on pace to eclipse previous record totals of materials hauled in a calendar year, projected to be more than 1.4 billion tonnes in 2022.
Currently, more than 550 mining trucks are equipped with Command for hauling, operating across three continents. Over the last nine years, trucks equipped with Command for hauling have journeyed nearly the average distance between the Earth and Mars with zero loss-time injuries.
“In 2013, we placed our first fleets of autonomous trucks in Western Australia at FMG Solomon and BHP Jimblebar. Since that time, trucks using Command for hauling have safely traveled nearly 200 million km, more than twice the experience in autonomous operations of any automobile manufacturer,” says Denise Johnson, group president of Caterpillar Resource Industries. “Caterpillar has grown the number of autonomous trucks in operation by 40% in the past two years. We believe that automation is one of many keys to implement technology that unlocks the value miners need when it comes to the energy transition toward more sustainable operations.”
Marc Cameron, vice president of Caterpillar Resource Industries, adds that “The new Cat 798 AC electric drive trucks replacing BHP’s entire haul truck fleet at the Escondida mine will feature technologies that advance the site’s key initiatives, including autonomy and decarbonization. The agreement allows Escondida | BHP to accelerate the implementation of its autonomy plans by transitioning the fleet with autonomous haulage system (AHS) technology.”
Since 2019, Caterpillar has won eight of nine greenfield autonomy sites. “In 2023, we will expand Command for hauling to the 139-tonne (153-ton) truck class at ioneer Ltd’s Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron mine. This is the first greenfield project in North America to use an AHS,” says Sean McGinnis, vice president and general manager for Cat Mining. “We are now seeing a shift toward autonomy requested on new Cat trucks. Whereas large mines with fleet sizes of more than 70 trucks were the early adopters of the technology, we are seeing economic viability for autonomy at smaller mines with a fleet of less than 15 trucks.”
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