Mineral Resources’ autonomous road trains project has reached a world-first milestone, achieving a successful demonstration run of a triple-trailer, automated road train platoon with each road train hauling 300 tonnes of iron ore.
The demonstration showcased the success of MinRes’ autonomous road trains pilot project, which has been underway at the company’s Yilgarn iron ore operations since late 2021.
MinRes has partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.
MinRes is renowned for providing innovative and low-cost solutions across the mining infrastructure supply chain. The company’s autonomous road trains will form an essential part of the cost-efficient supply chain unlocking stranded resources in the Pilbara region as part of the Ashburton hub iron ore project.
To support the development of the 30Mtpa Ashburton Hub, MinRes is planning to run a fleet of 425-tonne Gross Combination Mass (GCM), triple-trailer road trains operating across multiple convoys. Each road train convoy will consist of up to four prime movers with three trailers each, hauling the ore from mine site to the MinRes unloading and storage facilities at the Port of Ashburton.
The pilot project in the Yilgarn uses 365-tonne GCM triple-trailer road trains, which have been tailored for the specific economic constraints of iron ore and other bulk commodities. Testing will continue over the next eight months across the Yilgarn and increasingly in the Pilbara, ramping up to the 425-tonne GCM capacity.
MinRes will initially adopt the autonomous road trains innovation for its own operations, with a view to offering the solution to its large Tier One customer base as part of plans to further growing the Company’s Mining Services division.
Mike Grey, MinRes’ Chief Executive – Mining Services, said:
“It’s been an exciting journey over the past year and we’ve now achieved a world-first platoon of three autonomous road trains, which is a game changer for us. It’s an extremely proud moment to see our autonomous project grow from desktop concept to iron ore reality so quickly.
“As we get ready for the Ashburton Hub Iron Ore Project and look to unlock stranded tonnes, our autonomous road trains will be the vital link between the pit and the port.
“As the first of their kind in the world, they open up new opportunities. We’ll be trialing the technology on our MinRes operations, before offering it to our Tier 1 customers.”
Nick Hare, President of Hexagon’s Mining division, said:
“What’s great about working with Mineral Resources is how quickly they bring ideas into production. We’re pleased to collaborate on this ground-breaking innovation for the resources industry.
“We value the opportunity to demonstrate our position as a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions. Mineral Resources is an ideal partner for a project of this size and complexity.”